HOW TO PROTECT YOUR HORSE
Any sycamore trees in or around your horse’s fields or in the near vicinity should be identified. Seeds can travel a significant distance, especially in certain weather conditions, so it’s important to be vigilant. Ideally, don’t use any pastures with sycamore trees around the outside or close to them. Areas where sycamore seeds and leaves are likely to fall should be fenced off and any that have fallen should be cleared from the grazing and disposed of. If grazing is poor, or a number of horses graze a small area, you should consider supplementary forage (for example, providing hay or haylage in the field) to try to reduce the risk of them ingesting the seeds/seedlings. If a case of atypical myopathy occurs, then all horses should be removed from the affected pasture (especially the youngest). Either stable them or move them to clean pasture. All horses from affected pasture should have blood tests to measure the levels of muscle enzymes. These should be rechecked regularly to identify any other cases, so that if treatment is required, it can be initiated as soon as possible. Certain laboratories can sample sycamore seeds/leaves/seedlings for the presence of the toxin hypoglycin A. Consider testing any sycamore trees around your grazing to assess the level of danger to your horses. Bear in mind the toxin is not always present in every seed from the same tree, or in seeds from every sycamore.
Outbreaks tend to be seasonal, with most cases occurring in the autumnSycamore seeds can be tested for the presence of the toxin hypoglycin A PHOTO: HEATHER REA