Before turning your horses out on pasture to graze, learn what you need to do to keep them safe. From erecting a sturdy fence to cutting down dangerous trees, you can prevent your horses from getting hurt or becoming ill while in the field.
Cut Down Toxic Trees
The leaves, seeds, fruit and bark of some species of trees are lethal to horses. These dangerous trees contain toxins that can poison or cause a horse to colic due to abdominal issues. Colic causes the most fatalities in horses and in severe cases, this painful condition can cause the intestines to twist.
If you observe any of these trees in your field, cut them down and dispose of them before you turn your horses into the pasture.
- Oak – The leaves, bark and acorns from oak trees contain an acid called tannin that's poisonous to horses. If ingested, this toxin will cause liver or kidney damage.
- Red Maple – If horses eat wilted leaves from a red maple tree, the gallic acid in the leaves will cause issues with the red blood cells.
- Cherry – Almost every part of a cherry tree is toxic to horses, including the bark, leaves and seeds. When horses eat freshly wilted leaves from this tree, it can lead to oxygen suffocation.
- Yew – Every part of the yew tree, whether alive or wilted, poses a danger to horses. When a horse ingests these tree parts, it can cause cardiac arrest in the animal.
- Buckeye – Also called horse chestnut, these trees have poisonous seeds and leaves. If a horse consumes new buckeye sprouts in the spring, this can cause gastrointestinal issues and lead to colic.
- Persimmon – When a horse consumes a large amount of the fruit that grows on persimmon trees, it can cause an impaction in the horse's stomach.
In addition to inspecting the entire pasture area, walk along the fence line and look on the other side of the fence for these toxic trees. A horse will often extend its neck to reach what's on the other side of the fence. Cut down any poisonous tree species that's within three feet of the fence line.
Install A Sturdy Fence
A fence constructed out of wooden posts makes a sturdy structure for horses. This type of fencing material is easy for horses to see, so they won't accidentally run into it. Horses can get tangled up in a wire fence and this won't happen with wooden materials.
When you're fencing in horses, erect your fence at least 5 feet high for average sized horses, such as quarter horses. If you own draft horses or other large breeds, install a fence that is at least 6 feet tall. If the fence is too short, horses can reach over to the other side and this will eventually cause the fence to lean.
When selecting a type of wood for your horse fence, choose a durable hardwood such as pine or cedar. Pine posts treated with chromated copper arsenate will protect them against termites and other insect infestations. The distinctive aroma of cedar boards act as a natural repellant against insects.
Clean Out The Field
Dangerous objects in your pasture are hazardous and they will cause cuts or wounds to your horses. Walk the entire length of your field and pick up objects that can harm your horse. Look for barn boards with rusty nails, metal objects, glass, wire and any other unsafe objects in your field.
Inspect the ground for holes that could cause your horse to trip, fall and possibly break a bone. Fill the holes with dirt and tamp the soil down into the hole until it's flush with the ground.
After cutting down poisonous trees and clearing out hazardous objects in your field, contact a qualified contractor to erect wood fencing so your horses will be safe.