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Maple Poisoning

Maple poisoning is very real and its not just from red maple trees. What
happens is that when the leaves begin to wither, they create a substance
that is lethal to horses. Horses can eat the leaves when green or when
dead; its only when they are in the yellow, withering stage. The
substance created causes the horse to bleed internally. I'm not sure
what happens, but it's almost as if the blood vessels fall apart. It is
fatal. The horse does have to ingest quite a bit; I think the statistic
is 1 to 2 percent of the body weight. That's a couple grocery bags full
for a full-size horse.

I found this out the hard way. A friend's daughter had a lovely Welsh
pony. Always in the ribbons in 4-H and Pony Club. She had her for years
(I think she died when she was about 21). They were finally able to
bring the pony home to live in their back yard, after building a barn,
etc. It was fall and the maple trees were losing their leaves. They
didn't have much other pasture, so the pony ate the leaves. She died
within 2 days I think. Her vet was also my vet and he gave me literature
to read about this. It truly is awful! Horses shouldn't eat any leaves
if you can prevent it. A maple leaf or two isn't going to kill them, but
make sure you don't pasture them with any maple trees that they can get
at. I believe they don't usually eat these if there's enough pasture.
But if they don't have anything else, they will.


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