Hoof Nutrition Intelligence Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.

Below you will find Part 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: Can eating poisonous plants by horses lead to serious hoof concerns?

By Buck McColl

A: Poisonous plants affect horses in many ways, as any toxin that is ingested that interferes with normal metabolic activity can cause problems. Here are a few examples of how plant, shrub and tree toxins can have an impact on horses:

  • Red maple produces gallic acid that cause lethargy and anemia (breakdown of red blood cells) that reduce oxygen transport.
  • Black walnut shavings should not be eaten, as the resulting toxins are absorbed through the hoof, causing founder or laminitis.
  • Yews produce taxins that interfere with heart action.
  • Black cherry produces cyanide, which can lead to a horse’s death.
  • Azaleas and rhododendron can cause diarrhea and heart problems.
  • St. John’s wort can destroy skin cells.
  • Mycotoxins and fungi found on plants can cause difficulty with horses giving birth. For example, fescue poisoning is common in pregnant mares.
  • The taxins found in alsike clover can cause liver problems.
  • Milkweed can cause seizures, colic and sometimes death in horses.
  • Sorghum grass (the milo family) produces cyanide, which sometimes leads to death.
  • White snake root causes weakness and tremors.
  • Water hemlock can produce considerable pain with horses and also be deadly.
  • Mountain laurel is also deadly.

Make sure your clients understand any digestive compromise in the horse usually ends up casing problems in extremities such as with the hooves. When blood flow is restricted, nutrients can’t get to the cells.

Buck McColl is an equine nutritionist who worked for many years with Mobile Milling Service in Thomasville, N.C.

Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine). Absorbine

Like many significant achievements, Absorbine® grew out of humble beginnings—and through the tenacity of someone willing to question the status quo. In this case, it was a young woman in late 19th-century Massachusetts: Mary Ida Young. Her husband, Wilbur Fenelon Young, was an enterprising piano deliveryman who relied on the couple’s team of horses to make deliveries throughout the Northeast. Inspired by Mary Ida and Wilbur’s vision, Absorbine® has continued to add innovative products throughout the years — products used every day by horse owners around the world. Which is why, since 1892, we’ve been The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®.


Click here to read Part 1 of the June 1, 2016 installment: With all of my summer riding, I think my horses need a hoof supplement. When do I need to start adding it to their ration?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.