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tumai 05-20-2007 05:29 PM

Ragwort Poisoning!
:cry: My poor Tu has eaten something that has majorly disagreed with him and I believe it was Ragwort :cry:

History.....10 days ago he was brought in from turnout time, went through 2 days of reminder work (was broken in over our summer, December/January) and then sent to be ridden lightly by 11 year old boy and when I went to collect him on Saturday we noticed he was unwell and then when we removed cover noticed sweat underneath flanks and girth, He was reluctant to move and after observation also noticed slightly swollen and tight belly and also constipation....wanting to do 2s but couldn't.....anyway managed to get uptake of food and H20 and administered an enema under consult with vet....finally did 1s and 2s that evening. Yesterday checked him again and wee bit brighter but went through a second sweat and we fed him willow leaves as a mild and natural painkiller. I have had to leave him where he is as he's not well enough to float even a short distance, Any way I think he is on the mend but I think that it will be awhile before I can turn him out again which I planned to do as he is only 2 1/2 yrs old. My poor little man!

My question any of you know of any natural herbal supplements that I could feed him to help his recovery.....Ragwort poisoning attacks the liver preventing cell division therefore causing cell death causing soriosis?(sp) I have read that Dandelion leaves and roots help to expel toxins and am adding that to my witches brew (garlic, kelp, flaxseed oil and calcium), but do you know any others?

Please help as this is my precious boy and I feel quiet beside myself! :cry: is him.

kristy 05-20-2007 06:55 PM

"The danger of Ragwort is that the toxin can have a cumulative effect. The toxin does not actually accumulate in the liver but a breakdown product can damage DNA and gradually kill cells. About 3-7% of the body weight is sometimes claimed as deadly for horses, but an example in the scientific literature exists of a horse surviving being fed over 20% of its body weight. However, because of the mode of poisoning is through affecting DNA molecules, very small amounts are unlikely to cause harm as they will be below the threshold to cause damage. The toxic breakdown products can also be metabolised by the liver before damage occurs. The effect of low doses is also lessened by the destruction of the original alkaloids by the action of bacteria in the digestive track before they reach the bloodstream. There is no known antidote or cure to poisoning, but at least one example is known from the scientific literature of a horse making a full recovery once consumption has been stopped."
Found here:

"No known anti-dote for this alkaloid based toxin. Efforts should be concentrated on prevention through pasture management."
Found here:

"Damage to the liver is cumulative and irreversible, and most horses succumb to chronic exposure over time, after consuming between 50 and 150 pounds, in total.
Signs: Often, there is no evidence of consumption until signs of liver failure begin to appear: photosensitization, diminished appetite and weight loss, progressing to depression, incoordination and jaundice.
What to do: There is no treatment for advanced stages of liver disease due to this toxin."
Found here:

What signs is the horse exhibiting? Are you certain that it is because of eating ragwort? Why do you think this and how much has been eaten?


tumai 05-23-2007 05:31 PM

THANKYOU KRISTY! :D I read your message the evening that you posted and it really gave me food for thought so I went back to the vet and spoke to her and she was of the same mind as you but didn't have the heart to tell me at the time because I was a bit distraught :oops: :cry: Anyway we investigated the pasture more and found fallen leaves that had mould on them and the vet agrees that he probably ate some of them and well it all disagreed...don't know for certain as still waiting for blood results to come back. On a better note Tu has perked up over the last couple of days, still not 100% but is better than he was at the weekend :D

Dave Singleton 05-23-2007 05:47 PM

I think that sounds more like a colic case which as you say is quite likely to have been caused by the mouldy leaves. However, I think it maybe wise to analyse the rest of your general horse care routine just to make sure:
1) Do you allow cooling down time after exercise before feeding or turning out?
2) Do you regulate the diet to make sure he isn't under/overdosing on certain components?
3) Do you feed him in one big meal a day or smaller meals throughout?
4) Do you exercise your horse less than an hour after a large meal?

It may also be an idea to make sure that there aren't any friendly passers-by who feed your horse but may not necessarily be feeding the best things e.g bread.

kristy 05-23-2007 05:51 PM

The fact that he has perked up is fantastic. Great sign. I am very interested in hearing the results - fingers crossed!

Glad I could help, too!

tumai 05-25-2007 06:06 PM

:shock: OMG!!!!! The results for the bloods came yesterday and I am still in shock!!! It wasn't ragwort or mould or colic(which I knew already).....It appears that he was tied up or you may know it as Monday morning sickness, where the lactic acid in the muscle has not been released and caused my poor man excrutiating pain! After my own investigation I have found that he was probably not cooled properly after the previous days ride and also a drop in his selenium levels also would have contributed to this, so after a dose of selenium from the vet onto the float he went and home we came. He has improved as the days go on but will be awhile before he is 100%. I havn't seen this in a pony ever and the last time I saw it in a horse was quiet a few years ago when I was way younger :wink: and they were horses prone to tie up. My next concern is I wonder if Tu is going to be prone to this again. I'm going to talk to the vet about that more. Thanks for your concern and mostly thanks for your advice :D P.S Do you know about this Kristy? please share if you do. TIA.

mokinho 05-25-2007 06:22 PM

dehydration could have been the cause as well.....

tumai 05-26-2007 02:44 AM

Well yes Mokinho you are quite right, dehydration can be a factor and I am certainly making sure he is taking in alot of water as tie up can cause kidney damage as well. Today he and vicky(see riding pony critique) have been turned out onto longer grass and they both went for a trot around the paddock together and he still looked really slow and stiff but was happy and keen to eat, On the bright side he is improving day by day. :D Makes me very happy as I received him as a real youngster and well he's put little footprints on my heart :)

kristy 05-26-2007 10:57 PM

Oh my goodness! Poor guy, but at least it isn't ragwort!

I know a little about it. The name originated from farmers who would work their plow horses heavily and then give the horses the weekend off. The horses would have the same amount of feed given daily, regardless if they were worked. When Monday came around, the horses were bombarded with lactic acid in their muscles. They were in immense pain, with possible trembling, muscle spasm or collapse.

Is this guy used for jumping? What work is he performing? How often? Does he have a large carbohydrate intake?

"Recovery is monitored by the decrease of these enzymes in the
blood. When both fall to normal levels, treatment can be discontinued and the horse can be put back to work. If levels of these enzymes are not elevated in the blood, then problems other than tying-up must be considered.

Emergency treatment includes a pain killer and a muscle relaxant. Your veterinarian may also administer an anti-inflammatory agent. Intravenous fluids are used for dehydration and to help flush myoglobins out of the kidneys. "

What treatment did your vet suggest? Did your vet suggest to alter the amounts of feed given/type of feed?

"Multiple factors contribute to this syndrome, and different horses are sensitive to different conditions. Regular exercise, daily turn out, a consistent low-carbohydrate/high-fat diet, and a stress-free environment may decrease the incidence and severity of tying-up. Feeding the horse balanced electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals--especially vitamin E, selenium, and calcium--is believed to be effective. Preventive measures that reduce stress, reduce potassium depletion, and improve energy metabolism have been used with varying degrees of success. Chromium seems to decrease the effects of stress in nervous horses. Dimethyl
glycine (DMG) increases the efficiency of energy metabolism. Sodium bicarbonate added to the diet as a buffer is helpful in cases of potassium depletion. Dantrolene and phenytoin are compounds used in the prevention of tying-up, but these are not allowed in horses on the race track. "

Personally, I would consider the amount of work he is used for and take a close look at his feed and nutritional intake. I would also suggest exercising him daily, regardless if it is a fun and light hack. If an attack is to happen again, remember NOT to move him as you would with colic! It can make things dramatically worse. :(

But at least you can work with this problem!

tumai 05-28-2007 07:50 PM

Tu is only 2 and a half years old, he was trained to take a rider 6 months ago and then turned out to grow and then brought in for a refresher heavy riding and absolutely no jumping as he is too young in my eyes....I train my horses and ponies gradually over four years....yep four years before they come in for full time riding so increasing or decreasing riding now isn't an option as he needs to be turned out again and he won't start a career jumping until he is six. Well this is how I like to do it anyway I think that he was maybe a little bit over exerted and then the following day he tied up...odd I know as he hadn't had a break and was on a small amount of hard food to deliver vitamins and minerals but certainly a minimal amount of carbs...what I did find interesting from the vet was that apparently low selenium can contribute to tie up??? and also backed up the vitamin e which is needed for the body to absorb selenium effectively and also chromium. So she and I are looking at that part of his diet very closely and he will be blood tested again in a few weeks.
What I do find interesting is that since he has been home and on very good pasture his weight has picked up (he lost alot of weight while ill) and so has his general health...eyes and coat brighter, carrying himself prouder, happy to tease the mares and trotting and cantering all round his paddock. He has no idea that I thought he was going to die!
Yes your right Kristy at least its not ragwort and yes I can work with this. Thanks again for your info about this! :)

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