Horsetail has been around for millions of years and it reproduces by spores rather than seeds. It got its name because it resembles a horse’s tail. This plant grows in humid climates on plains, on the shores of mountain rivers or on railroads. Horsetail has antimicrobial antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects that preserve eyesight and stimulate blood flow.
Horsetail is often called snake grass, puzzlegrass, candock for branching individuals and scouring-rush for unbranched or sparsely branched individuals. The leaves have a waxy coat and they can be found near bogs and streams.
Toxic to Horses
Although horsetail is an herb often used on humans to aid with digestive problems, eyesight and blood flow, it is highly toxic of consumed by horses and ponies. Just like the herb ground ivy, horsetail is mostly consumed by horses when dried and mixed in hay. However, horsetail can sometimes remain green during the winter and if grazing is in short supply or limited, horses may eat it.
After a horse nibbles on the horsetail plant multiple times over a long period of time symptoms of weight loss occur. It can later progress to unsteady walking. Then the unsteady walking can lead to stumbling and staggering leaving the horse to have to use all four feet spread to stay balanced. Often a horse that falls will not be able to get up or have a very hard time doing so. Stumbling is due to horsetail containing vitamin B1, which destroys enzymes in the horse. It also contains piperidine alkaloid palustrine that can cause cattle to become lame. The horse will often have to use solid objects to hold himself up and if left untreated will cause death within several days or weeks after symptoms occur. Prior to death horses have been reported to be quiet, unresponsive or comatose.
If you try to dig up horsetail before it is dead and dried out it will just grow from the root cuttings again. Dry out or drown the roots to ensure they are completely dead before digging them up.
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