Be aware of the dangers of the sycamore tree to your horses' health.
This time of year, and the current wild weather conditions, remind us all to be careful of pasture-associated toxins such as the seeds of the sycamore tree, which when eaten by horses can result in atypical myopathy.
The seedlings contain a toxin which causes severe muscle damage. The signs include muscle tremors, inappetence, reluctance to move, dark red-brown urine and recumbency. If a horse eats a large quantity of the seedlings, the condition can be fatal.
Prevention is best so avoid your horse eating the seedlings by removing them from paddocks with the seedlings in (be aware, the seedlings can blow a long way) or if this is not possible provide supplementary hay to avoid the horses eating the grass down low to the level of the seedlings.
If your horse is showing signs of illness consistent with atypical myopathy please consult your vets, but it is likely that an emergency visit, and sometimes hospitalisation for the most severely affected horses, will be necessary.
Recent advances mean that we can now test for the toxin in the blood or urine, and any paddock-mates of an affected horse should also be examined/ blood sampled. If caught early and treated aggressively many horses will make a full recovery over time.