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: Is it okay to let my horses eat the dandelions in my pastures?
By Kentucky Equine Research staff
Dandelions are not known to be toxic to horses. However, false dandelions (known scientifically as hypochaeris radicata or hypochoeris radicata) are thought to cause stringhalt in horses if too many of these plants are consumed.
Stringhalt is a spasmodic contraction of the lateral flexor tendons in the hind legs, which occurs as a sudden flexion of one or both hind legs. False dandelion causes the breakdown of the myelin sheath that covers nerves, causing damage and muscle atrophy. Less severely affected horses may show signs of incoordination or dragging of their hind hooves. In addition, horses chronically consuming false dandelions may also experience muscle atrophy.
The best treatment with false dandelion poisoning is to remove horses from areas where the noxious plants grow. Over the course of a few weeks or months, the horse should recover.
It is important to distinguish between dandelions and false dandelions. Dandelions have jagged leaves, whereas the leaves of false dandelions are lobe-like and hairy. In addition, false dandelions have multiple branching flower stems that can grow up to 24 inches in height, and each with a single, yellow flower.
Also known as cat’s ear or flatweed, false dandelions are perennial plants that are often found in lawns.
Any time a plant is suspected of being toxic, even if there’s uncertainty, it is best to prevent horses from grazing that plant.
Located in Versailles, Ky., Kentucky Equine Research is an international research, consulting and product development firm working in the areas of equine nutrition and sports medicine.
Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (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, 2017 installment: What can I do so I don’t have to worry about lush spring pastures leading to grass founder concerns?