BHS: Be Vigilant This Spring for Sycamore Seedlings

Owners are encouraged to watch for sycamore seedlings, which can cause atypical myopathy, in horse pastures.

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The British Horse Society (BHS) is reminding owners to be vigilant for the presence of sycamore seedlings in horse pastures this spring.

Atypical myopathy is an often-fatal muscle disease in the United Kingdom and Europe. Researchers recently learned that horses develop the condition after ingesting hypoglycin A, a toxin found in sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) seeds.

Sycamore seeds are most prevalent during the winter but cases of atypical myopathy can also occur during the spring. Due to the spring outbreaks, the BHS says, it has been suspected that sycamore seedlings were the causal factor of atypical myopathy. This link has now been confirmed by the Université de Liège who have identified that sycamore seedlings also contain the toxin hypoglycin-A.

For horse owners, the challenge of removing sycamore seeds and seedlings can be a daunting and onerous task. One preventive measures is to ensure horses have sufficient grazing available to help deter their need to search for additional food. But at this time of year, some horses will have to be kept on restricted grazing to help control their weight and prevent laminitis. Therefore, the BHS said it is crucial to regularly check such pasture for sycamore seedlings

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