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Toxic Weeds - info?

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  • Toxic Weeds - info?

    Anyone have any good recommendations of books or resources on toxic weeds? I am clueless in that department.

    Would some horses be more sensitive or develop issues while others would not? Obviously some would be more interested in eating weeds than others would too.

    Would you need some kind of specific BW/toxicology report done to find evidence of such issues? I'm guessing it would not show up on a normal blood panel?

    Symptoms I'm looking at are tying up, mild ataxia, colicky behavior, urinary issues, weight loss. Started mid July and disappeared *entirely* when the weather changed about mid-September.

    Vet did a very thorough work-up, never had a fever, ruled out infection, couldn't find tumors or bladder stones. Not believed to be Lyme or EPM. Horsey was headed to the clinic when he got better as quickly as he'd gotten sick.

    Horse had been turned out in a smallish pasture that was very weedy. I'd been told they were throwing hay but found out later they were not.

    The vet had asked a lot of questions about the pasture, weeds, hay, etc. at the time. I didn't even put two and two together until I bumped into an old friend tonight who immediately said "weeds" when I told her about his issues.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

  • #2
    Originally posted by FlashGordon View Post

    Symptoms I'm looking at are tying up, mild ataxia, colicky behavior, urinary issues, weight loss. Started mid July and disappeared *entirely* when the weather changed about mid-September.
    where did it happen ?
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Western NY.

      Horse nettles? Also we get tons of weird buttercup type stuff but its not really buttercup?
      We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

      Comment


      • #4
        Well if there is horse nettles in this paddock then that is seriously bad horse management in not ridding the paddock of them. Horse Nettles are from the nightshade family and are highly toxic to horses, often fatal.

        Buttercups aren't much better!

        My suggestion - move! Don't keep your horse in such an unsuitable environment and with people who clearly know nothing about land management.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Oh we did move, last night in fact. For many reasons. One of them being the horses kept in a small, enclosed, weedy corner of the pasture despite there being acres and acres of turnout.

          I feel like a complete and utter moron. I'd always left pasture management to the BO's... guess it is something I now need to educate myself on, though the pasture at the new barn is far grassier and the BOs are much more educated horse people than the last BOs.

          Tonight when the friend immediately said "weeds" and specifically horse nettle, it was like a lightbulb going off and I knew that had to be what was going on. I'd spent the last 6 weeks wondering WHY the horse had suddenly improved when the weather changed-- The grass had grown in, and the weeds had died. Duh.

          I'm guessing if he were out eating toxic weeds all day, that would be the reason his symptoms were especially bad 2-3 hours after being brought in for the night.
          We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

          Comment


          • #6
            Here's a good book -- don't know if it's still in print:

            Horse Owner's Field Guide to Toxic Plants
            Copyright 1996
            Breakthrough Publications
            www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
            "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
            Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube

            Comment


            • #7
              Get blood drawn immediately to see what his GGT levels are. This past summer my horse's appetite changed, he got lethargic, lost weight, etc Blood was drawn and his GGT level was sky high - I took him to Palm Beach Equine where they took more blood, did an ultrascan, and liver biopsy. Result was he had ingested either lantana, or a micotoxin (algae or fungus) - several months before. It takes quite awhile for the symptoms to show.
              He was so bad I was preparing myself to put him down. The vet put him on 3 different meds, + MSN and 3 months later he has regained all his weight, I'm riding him, and he looks fantastic. But it took a while to recover and I spent over $2,400 in his recovery, but well worth it. He just finished his last round of meds at the end of Oct.
              I will never know for sure what he ate, but all that matters is he is healthy. I camp and trail ride, so it's possible he ate something on a camping trip or in the pasture he'd been in for 2 years. I moved him shortly before he started showing symptoms.
              Bloodwork will show if anything is amiss, so please get it done to rule out liver failure or other things.

              Comment


              • #8
                There are several good websites for poisonous plants. The U Penn vet school has a good site.

                Comment


                • #9
                  If it's your property, you can always get the ag agent out. I have the Horse Owner's Guide to Poisonous Plants. Just got it three years ago, so think it's still in print. Also, just google "horse poisonous plants". There's a wealth of free information out on the net (complete with pictures).

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Heart's Journey View Post
                    Get blood drawn immediately to see what his GGT levels are. This past summer my horse's appetite changed, he got lethargic, lost weight, etc Blood was drawn and his GGT level was sky high - I took him to Palm Beach Equine where they took more blood, did an ultrascan, and liver biopsy. Result was he had ingested either lantana, or a micotoxin (algae or fungus) - several months before. It takes quite awhile for the symptoms to show.
                    He was so bad I was preparing myself to put him down. The vet put him on 3 different meds, + MSN and 3 months later he has regained all his weight, I'm riding him, and he looks fantastic. But it took a while to recover and I spent over $2,400 in his recovery, but well worth it. He just finished his last round of meds at the end of Oct.
                    I will never know for sure what he ate, but all that matters is he is healthy. I camp and trail ride, so it's possible he ate something on a camping trip or in the pasture he'd been in for 2 years. I moved him shortly before he started showing symptoms.
                    Bloodwork will show if anything is amiss, so please get it done to rule out liver failure or other things.
                    HJ, that is scary stuff! I'm so glad your boy recovered.

                    So your horse had issues a long time after ingesting that particular toxin?

                    My horse's symptoms are gone now, he's been doing well this fall. I suspect whatever it was he was eating was giving him issues hours and days after ingestion. We did do a blood panel among other things this summer. IIRC it was NQR but not hugely abnormal.
                    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      [QUOTE]
                      Originally posted by FlashGordon View Post
                      Tonight when the friend immediately said "weeds" and specifically horse nettle, it was like a lightbulb going off and I knew that had to be what was going on.
                      yes but....


                      only a starving horse will touch nettle and then only in the dried variety mixed in with hay...it is covered in pricklies and stinks to high heaven with an bitter acid smell

                      I have to check a place or two before I post what I do think it is, but I myself would rule out HN pretty quick in a grazing situation
                      Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                      I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        [QUOTE]
                        Originally posted by FlashGordon View Post

                        Symptoms I'm looking at are tying up, mild ataxia, colicky behavior, urinary issues, weight loss. Started mid July and disappeared *entirely* when the weather changed about mid-September.
                        what about his urine ? straining ? stopping? bloody? dark red??
                        Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                        I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Tamara in TN View Post

                          yes but....

                          only a starving horse will touch nettle and then only in the dried variety mixed in with hay...it is covered in pricklies and stinks to high heaven with an bitter acid smell

                          I have to check a place or two before I post what I do think it is, but I myself would rule out HN pretty quick in a grazing situation
                          Would definitely be interested to hear your thoughts.

                          Been googling and looking at pics to see if I recognize any of the crap that was growing out there.

                          I guess I was naive in thinking most horses will naturally avoid toxic plants. This horse has a history of severe starvation (body score of 1-2 when I got him in 2008) and is also lowest man on the totem pole. It is quite possible he's retained habits of eating weeds from his days of neglect, or else was forced to after being chased off what good grass and hay there was available.
                          We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Tamara in TN View Post

                            what about his urine ? straining ? stopping? bloody? dark red??
                            Straining, stopping and starting, dropping all the time acting like he was going to pee and then not doing it. It wasn't dark red or bloody but at times looked orangey. Smelled funny.

                            We kept thinking stones.... We did urine culture and urinalysis, both of which were not terribly remarkable. He did have some calcium crystals. Palpated for stones and none found. Vet seemed to be on to the idea that something he was eating was NQR, so we pulled him off every supplement and processed product put him on TC senior only. Was going to haul him to the clinic for endoscopy but he started to suddenly improve about mid-September. He gained back about 200 pounds, hind end coordination improved, he stopped tying up and having the weird urinary issues. It was like it all went away as quick as it had come on at the end of July.

                            He's been out of work since then and I figured him permanently retired, but watching him move last night in his new paddock, he looks fat and healthy and SOUND again. So may try and get him going lightly this winter.
                            Last edited by FlashGordon; Nov. 19, 2009, 10:39 AM. Reason: more info
                            We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by FlashGordon View Post
                              It was like it all went away as quick as it had come on at the end of July.

                              He's been out of work since then and I figured him permanently retired, but watching him move last night in his new paddock, he looks fat and healthy and SOUND again. So may try and get him going lightly this winter.
                              ok here's what I think

                              I think he was starving...nothing more or less

                              LOTS of people equate green in a field with something edible...lots of people equate "hay" with something useful to the horse....

                              I think he was just starving and once you started the TC things improved.....

                              I found this cite here to talk about the symptoms of starvation in horses:

                              http://books.google.com/books?id=q-2...ataxia&f=false

                              it describes all the things you talked about and more...as the horse uses it's internal resources to feed him self these outward signs appear...

                              I do not think you knew about it as you thought he was being fed hay...that compounded with the summer heat brought added stress to him...

                              we see lots of horses going hungry every week partially as both vets and BO have no clue about hay in any real depth and many HO are afraid of both the cost and the consequences of feeding "grain"....

                              regards
                              Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                              I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Tamara its very possible he was not being fed appropriately. Which would make me feel even worse because I was there every day, sometimes 2x a day, for several hours. Though the BO was responsible for most of the feedings.

                                He was on 3lbs Blue Seal Senior 2x a day (which BO was feeding), and a probiotic, out on the weedy pasture, and was supposed to be getting free choice hay. I know he could eat at least a bale in 24 hours. Whether he was getting that I am not sure.

                                I was throwing him hay when I was there daily but when I pressed the barn owner about what she was giving him the rest of the time, she couldn't give me a true amount. BO seemed to step up available hay after my vet was out multiple times and made comments about nutritional value of the way.

                                So you think beyond the BS Senior he was just not getting the forage he needed? Thus causing all those bizarre-o symptoms?

                                We switched him off the BS Senior onto the TC Senior, 3 times a day (I was feeding 1x a day w/ hay pellets also, BO feeding straight TC 2x a day) and we were mixing the TC Senior with water.

                                I also wondered if he was dehydrated, hence why he was having those issues in the evening after a day out on pasture.
                                Last edited by FlashGordon; Nov. 19, 2009, 12:58 PM. Reason: more info
                                We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  [QUOTE]
                                  Originally posted by FlashGordon View Post

                                  So you think beyond the BS Senior he was just not getting the forage he needed? Thus causing all those bizarre-o symptoms?
                                  I do...in the absence of decent hay he should have been getting up to 20 pounds of the Senior

                                  We switched him off the BS Senior onto the TC Senior, 3 times a day (I was feeding 1x a day, BO 2x a day) and we were mixing the TC Senior with water.
                                  while a dyed in the wool Purina gal the TC Senior according to it's ingredients has the exact balance of fat to fiber that a declining horse would need (which was noted in the cite)...I don't know a thing about Blue Seal feed...I've never heard of it past mentions here...it may be fine but not in the heat and not for his condition at the time

                                  I also wondered if he was dehydrated, hence why he was having those issues in the evening after a day out on pasture

                                  sure....Low Dogs suffer tremendously in pasture situations if the fields are not big enough...Dirt Lot Low Dogs are even more at the mercy of the humans around them

                                  I'm glad he's better now but I don't see any weed that could have done that to him and him alone, in the group...and I looked pretty hard, as you never want to say to anyone what I said to you, if you don't have to...

                                  best
                                  Last edited by Tamara in TN; Nov. 19, 2009, 01:09 PM. Reason: spelling
                                  Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                                  I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Well I appreciate your honesty.

                                    The BO had turned out to be far stranger than I had ever imagined so honestly it is not shocking to think he was not being fed appropriately.... despite me purchasing his feed and going so far as to consult nutritionists and adjust his diet per her and the vet's recommendation, several times.

                                    She claimed her own vet told her the pasture was TOO rich, but my vet blatantly told her that was an idiotic idea. (Duh, it is hot, the end of summer, there is no grass out there.) My vet was also pretty harsh when she was unable to accurately recount how much hay she was really giving him. She was often telling me how he was leaving hay uneaten. She also took great offense to my theories on feeding as they were different than hers.

                                    Looking back I have a feeling they were giving him only his AM grain, putting them out in the field, and not haying at all. I would arrive in the evenings when he was already in his stall, and had had his evening grain. He'd have been given some hay at that point-- 2 flakes? I'd throw at least half a bale to get him through the night...... but have no idea if what I put in actually stayed IN the stall.

                                    I feel like the world's biggest jackass right now. Especially because I oversaw every detail of his care. And all the BO had to do was dump the feed in the bin, and throw the hay. I trusted they were doing that.

                                    I guess it would explain why despite all the work-ups we did and the multiple vet visits we never found a decisive reason for his issues. The vet did focus in on his diet initially but never went so far as to tell me she thought he was not being fed.
                                    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by FlashGordon View Post
                                      I guess it would explain why despite all the work-ups we did and the multiple vet visits we never found a decisive reason for his issues. The vet did focus in on his diet initially but never went so far as to tell me she thought he was not being fed.
                                      she never said that probably because she, as you, trusted the third party to do what they said/promised/agreed...if my vet gave me a med and told me to give it and I did not, and hid that fact,the vet could only assume that I gave the med and it failed...so another course must be taken...

                                      there is also an assumption that if you have a barn you have some small clue about horses...

                                      rest assured that is wrong wrong wrong....on the innocent end a person can think they know everything from a book...on the other more dark end people are "in control" when they run a barn and it brings out the dark side in them...

                                      while meant to be funny, I always get a twingy fear feeling when I see the signs that say things like "my barn my rules" and what not...

                                      they really are not funny to me, given the reflection they have on the person who put the sign up

                                      he's better now right ?? so don't stress on it...
                                      Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                                      I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        He is better, yes, thank goodness. And last night he was unbelievably happy to return to the boarding barn we left last spring. Horses do remember places where things were good, I think.

                                        Ironically I had moved him to the small private farm to give him a less busy and less "stressful" environment but clearly things were not as they seemed. I'm just so disgusted.

                                        The scary thing is the BO loved the "my barn my rules" motto you spoke of and control was her #1 issue. Ironically she lacked basic horse sense, so more than once I was caught going "what?!?" when she instituted some odd rule. I thought me being there every day (sometimes 2x) was enough to keep her at bay, and only realized recently when my own schedule changed, which thus affected my barn time, just how out of hand things were getting....

                                        Anyway I appreciate the info and your honesty, truly it was something that has been in the back of all of our heads and maybe I just needed to hear it out loud........
                                        We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                                        Comment

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