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It Could Kill Your Horse Although It Cannot See It…

I am talking about RAGWORT. It has been said that horses can get ragwort poisoning without the plants growing in their fields. Spores or seeds or both get carried by wind from anywhere where people are irresponsible enough not to pull those plants up in their gardens or fields. Horses will inhale the seeds or spores whilst grazing and the slow process of poisoning will begin.

Now some of you might believe that ragwort poisoning can be cured and that the liver regenerates anyhow. The liver does regenerate but once it is poisoned by ragwort, the liver will NOT regenerate!

I have attended a Veterinary conference run by Dodson & Horrell and a veterinary surgeon and senior lecturer at the Liverpool University Medicine for Horses Dr.Knottenbelt showed some ghastly videos for us to see. Horses die the most traumatic death and it is a very slow death! I cannot imagine that any horse owner would put their beloved pets through this kind of suffering. Fortunately, we were spared the actual END of the horse in the videos, which I was pleased about because it was just too upsetting.

The good news though is that YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT and I do not mean that you need to climb over into your neighbours garden or field and start putting your back out by pulling these culprits up. Firstly you can advise your neighbour on the dangers of leaving ragwort to grow and be friendly but firm about it. If he does not believe you, you can mention that there is a Weed Act 1959 by which HE IS RESPONSIBLE for removing this plant and should he not be willing you can complain to your Council.

Should the council fob you off that it only looks after agricultural land then you still have DEFRA/MAFF to complain to. It might surprise you to know that cows are just as vulnerable as horses are.

I have read somewhere that there is a fine of up to £1000.—for refusing to remove ragwort!

A word of warning: when you pull these plants up in your field, do wear gloves since it can cause skin irritation should the plant ‘bleed’ and you will have to burn the plant once you have pulled it up to make absolutely sure, that it has seen its last day. DO NOT THROW IT ONTO YOUR MUCK HEAP!

Last year the British Horse Society had a ROOT OUT RAGWORT WEEK and they intend to do the same this year.

Watch your bales of hay closely before you offer it to your livestock and once you detect ragwort in it you can report this to the Trading Standards Office at your local Authority.

I am appealing to anyone seeing ragwort grow anywhere, whether they are horse owners or not, just help us SAVE OUR HORSES by insisting that this weed gets removed from wherever you will find it.

I have a web-site for you to see that the Highway Agency do their bit to remove these weeds from alongside roads and highways to stop it from blowing its seeds across fences into our fields. You will be able to read more about it here: -


Ingrid Khan

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