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Toxic trees

From: Jennifer

Hi I just today found your web site and I've been going through the archive articles and they are very informative and helpful! I have a question I'd like to ask you. We are going to bring my little mare home after boarding her for two years and we are trying to prepare her pasture. We are putting her in about 11/2 acres some of which is wooded with a run in shed. Last fall (before we knew we'd bring a horse home) we planted two red maples and one sugar maple and a yoshino cherry tree in our front yard, do we need to remove all of these? I've heard that the red maples' wilting leaves can cause sever kidney damage in horses if ingested is this true? Are there any other plants or trees we should check for in our woods? We want to do all that we can for her and don't want any harm to come to her. Thanks so much for your advice!! Jennifer

Hi Jennifer! You're very sensible to prepare so carefully for your mare's arrival. I'm sorry about the trees -- yes, the red maples will have to go if there's any chance that your mare could get at some wilted leaves. They don't have to be in her pasture to be dangerous -- horses can die from eathing the leaves when a branch from a red maple, or from a yew, blows into their field after a storm. It's happened enough times that most horsemen don't want to see a red maple anywhere on or near their property.

There are so many dangerous plants, and you're right to be thinking about them NOW. I have two suggestions for you: first, call your county extension agent and ask if he or she will come out and walk your property with you. That way, you'll get useful advice about toxic plants, and you can also find out what sort of grasses will do best in your pasture, how to plan and where to put your sacrifice area, etc. My second suggestion is that you purchase a copy of the "Horse-owner's Field Guide to Toxic Plants", which is a very useful book. It's small, paperback, very portable, but packed with good information and clear colour photos. There's a review of it on my web pages, together with information about how to get it.

With the book in hand and your extension agent to help you, you should be able to prepare a safe home for your mare.


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