Keeping your pet—large or small—safe from harmful food or plants is an important part in every owner’s routine. That’s why Leslie Easterwood, MA, DVM, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, recommended all horse owners keep their fields clear of plants that can be toxic to horses.
Some of the most toxic plants that grow in Texas and can be dangerous for horses include oleander, hemlock, bracken fern, johnsongrass, and locoweed. Although having no poisonous plants in the pasture is ideal for horse owners, Easterwood said horses typically do not eat toxic plants because they are not as appealing as forage.
“Toxic plants are generally not eaten by horses if there is other forage available,” she said. “There are some toxic plants that can seem particularly appealing to horses, but generally they will avoid toxic plants.”
This might be good news for horse owners, but it does not necessarily mean unkempt pastures are safe. “Generally, it is never good to allow toxic plants to be where horses have access to them,” Easterwood said. “There are always a few plants out there that could cause a problem if eaten by a horse.”
Easterwood said horse owners should take time to look around their pastures and know what plants are growing. Additionally, Easterwood recommended mowing, shredding, and using chemical weed control to control toxic plants in the pasture.
“Horse owners can also arrange to meet with their county Extension agent to have them come out and look at the plants in the pasture,” Easterwood said. “They are trained to spot the pr