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Farriers are sometimes asked about how toxic or poisonous plants can affect the condition and integrity of the hoof. With over 700 plants, shrubs and trees in the United States and Canada that can be toxic to horses, this can be a concern to your clients.
Fortunately, horses naturally avoid most noxious weeds and plants because they are bitter and very unpalatable. When a horse has access to good pasture, hay, grain and water, they will avoid eating harmful plants.
But when pastures are drought stressed, over grazed, under fertilized or not clipped, horses tend to look for something else to eat. Examples include the tendency of hroses to eat oak leaves or acorns and to reach across the fence. Since hay can contain poisonous plants, knowing the source of forage is important to your clients.
Plants that are grown on soils that are high in selenium can cause hoof problems. Black walnut and black locust shavings for bedding must be avoided as these can lead to laminitis concerns.
Poisonous plants affect horses in many ways, as any toxin that is ingested that interferes with normal metabolic activity can cause problems. The resulting metabolic blocks can affect the horse in many ways. Here are just a few examples of how plant, shrub and tree toxins can have an impact on horses.