How to be safe around horses

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Horses are large animals. They can easily hurt us intentionally and by mistake. It’s important you remain safe at the barn by practicing good handling and riding skills. By following these tips, you can prevent both minor and serious injuries!

Tips to Keep You Safe

  • Stay calm when around them. Screaming and running can cause your horse to spook or lash out.
  • Always let your horse know where you are, especially when tacking and brushing them.
  • Wear the proper shoes when in the barn and riding. Scandals and flip-flops don’t belong around horses!
  • Helmets are a must when riding!
  • When leading a horse, make sure to use a lead rope clipped to the halter. You should stand at their shoulder when you walk.
  • Use a quick-release knot when tying your horse. They should be tied at their eye level and with no more than an arm’s length of rope.
  • Never go under your horse’s neck when brushing or tacking up.
  • You should also avoid getting on your knees or sitting on the ground near them.
  • When turning a horse out, steer their body back toward the gate before taking off their halter.
  • Feed treats from a bucket or flat palm.
  • Beginners should ride with supervision until they’ve become experienced.
  • Let someone know when you go to the barn and when you plan to be back, especially if you’ll be alone.

These are just a handful of safety tips. Makes sure to find an experienced handler and rider to show you the ropes in the beginning.

Stay safe around horses with these basic guidelines for riding and handling. Second nature for experienced horsemen, these rules are especially important for novices and young riders.

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How to be safe around horses

Follow these 14 rules to stay safe around horses.

1. Approaching, catching. Always speak to a horse to alert him to your presence before walking near; this avoids provoking his startle reflex. Approach from the side, to avoid his “blind” spots (directly in front of and behind him). Touch him first on the neck or shoulder, with a firm but gentle stroking motion.

Be especially careful when entering a pasture or paddock containing several horses (they can inadvertently jostle or step on you, or even kick).

Also, don’t take grain or other food into a group of horses—this just entices them to crowd around you and could incite a “food fight,” with you caught in the middle.

2. Leading. Always use a lead rope attached to the horse’s halter, rather than grasping the halter itself, which provides no options if the horse were to startle.

Don’t coil the end of the lead rope around your hand, where the loops could tighten; instead, fold it back and forth and grasp the middle of the folds.

To avoid being pulled over and dragged, never wrap a lead rope or any other line attached to a horse around any part of your body.

Don’t allow the horse you’re leading to touch noses with an unfamiliar horse, as this can lead the “strangers” to suddenly bite or strike at one another. (This applies when you’re mounted, as well.)

3. Tying. Tie a horse “eye high and no longer than your arm,” meaning the tie knot should be at least as high as the horse’s eye, and the distance from the knot to the halter should be no more than the length of your arm.

Tie only to a safe, solid object, using a quick-release knot or breakaway string. Keep your fingers out of the loops as you tie the knot. Tie only with a halter and lead, never with bridle reins.

4. Grooming. Stand near the shoulder or next to the hindquarters rather than directly in front of or directly behind a horse when grooming his head or brushing or braiding his tail.

To walk behind a horse, go either (1) close enough to brush against him (where a kick would have no real force), keeping one hand on his rump as you pass around; or (2) far enough away to be well out of kicking range.

Avoid ducking under the tie rope; you might cause the horse to pull back, and you’d be extremely vulnerable to injury if he did.

Be mindful of a horse’s feet while you’re working around him, as horses are often careless about where they step. When releasing a horse’s foot after cleaning it, make sure your own foot isn’t in the hoof’s spot as it returns to the ground.

When tending to a horse’s lower leg or hoof (as in applying a bandage), never kneel or sit on the ground. Remain squatting, so you can jump away in the event he startles.

When blanketing a horse, fasten the chest straps first, then the girth strap, then the hind-leg straps. When you remove the blanket, unfasten straps in the reverse order. This makes it impossible for the blanket to slip down and become entangled with a horse’s hind legs.

Try using this! Weaver grooming kit for all of your horse-grooming needs.

5. Trailering. Never fight with a reluctant horse to get him into a trailer; seek professional help and retraining, if necessary.

Once a horse is in the trailer, close the back door or ramp before you hitch him to the trailer tie. When unloading, untie the horse before opening the back of the trailer, so he doesn’t begin to back out on his own and hit the end of the rope, causing him to panic and pull back.

How to be safe around horses

Keep yourself and your horse safe in the trailer.

6. Turning loose. When turning out a horse or pony for exercise or returning him to his paddock or pasture, always turn his head back toward the gate and step through it yourself before slipping the halter off to avoid his heels in case he kicks them up in delight at freedom.

7. Feeding treats. Give carrot or apple chunks from the palm of a flattened hand to avoid being accidentally nipped. Better yet (especially in the case of greedy horses or ponies), put treats in a bucket before offering them.

Safety in the Saddle

8. Supervision. Until skills are well established, beginners and especially children should ride under supervision. Jumping and work with cattle should be supervised at all times.

9. Safety gear. Essentials include proper footwear (boots or shoes with hard toes and a heel) and, especially for children, a properly fitted helmet that meets current safety standards. [The Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) certifies helmets that meet or exceed the American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM) standard for equestrian headgear. Use only helmets with the ASTM/SEI mark.]

Try using this! Troxel Spirit riding helmet that meets all standards for headgear.

How to be safe around horses

Wearing a helmet while riding is a great way to stay safe.

Safety or breakaway stirrups (designed to release the foot easily in the event of a fall) are an added measure, as is a safety vest for anyone involved in cross-country jumping.

Try using this! Tough-1 EZ Out safety stirrups for youth or adult riders.

10. Tacking up. A bit that pinches, ruffled hair under the saddle pad, a too-tight back cinch—any of these can cause a horse to act up “unaccountably.” Make sure you and your child always follow basic guidelines for proper bridling and saddling.

Regularly inspect equipment for signs of wear that could cause a rein, stirrup leather, or other essential part to break.

11. Preparing a fresh mount. Longeing by an experienced person will “take the edge off” a fresh horse and make it less likely he’ll act up when ridden. (Remember, excess energy can result from overfeeding, lack of exercise, or both.)

12. Mounting. Never mount where there are low overhead clearances or projections.

Follow proper technique (a trainer or instructor can show how) and maintain contact with the reins as you swing aboard.

A child’s horse or pony should stand still for mounting, or else be held by an adult until the child is securely in the saddle.

13. Paying attention. Staying calm, focused, and alert in the saddle at all times is a key safeguard. Children, in particular, can have fun but mustn’t become careless or unmindful.

14. Trail riding. Novices and children shouldn’t ride out on the trail until a trainer or instructor deems they are ready, teaches them how, and assures that mounts are trail-safe.

Controlling weeds is probably one of the most important decisions to think about when managing horse pastures. Weeds are generally less palatable, less nutritious, and are less dependable as a forage supply to horses than the desirable pasture species they replace. Some pasture weeds are poisonous to horses. From a control standpoint, grouping weeds into categories based on life span is most practical. Annual, biennial and perennial are the main life spans of weeds.

Lifespan of Weeds

How to be safe around horses

Annual

An annual germinates from seed, grows, matures, and dies in less than one year. Chemical control of annuals works best when applied in the spring to actively growing, young weeds. Mechanical control, such as mowing, is very effective against annuals.

Biennials

Biennials require two years to complete their life cycles. They form a rosette (group of leaves at ground level) and store food in their roots the first year and flower the second year. Control measures, chemical or mechanical, are most effective when applied during the first year’s growth. If treatment is delayed until the second year, early season application of a herbicide before bloom is important.

Perennials

Perennials live more than two years, and grow back from the same roots year after year. Perennials move nutrients into their roots during fall to prepare for winter. Because of this, chemical control of perennials works best when applied in the fall to actively growing and well-developed foliage. As the nutrients move into the roots, the chemical will too. Application of herbicides in spring, or frequent moving during the summer is also effective in controlling growth until fall. However, mowing alone may take a several growing seasons to effectively control the perennial weeds.

Herbicides and Minimizing Weeds in Pastures

Herbicides

When using herbicides, always read and follow labels carefully. Always follow grazing recommendations after herbicide application. Herbicide may make toxic weeds more palatable to horses. Horses should be excluded from the sprayed area for seven to ten days after treatment if poisonous plants are present. Herbicides alone will not result in a weed-free pasture.

Most herbicides control either grasses or broadleaves (i.e. alfalfa and clover). If you have a mixed pasture (both grasses and legumes like alfalfa and clovers), there are no herbicide options that will control unwanted weeds and leave BOTH legumes and grasses.

Steps To Minimize Weeds in Pastures

  1. Proper grazing management is a must. Overgrazing easily damages pastures. Overgrazing pastures tends to pull out roots of desirable plant species, giving weeds space to take hold.
  2. Protect new seedlings from grazing until they are well established and graze moderately thereafter.
  3. Allow established pastures a recovery period after grazing. This will reduce weeds and increase pasture yield and nutrition value.
  4. If possible, mow after each grazing period to control many pasture weeds and encourage new pasture growth. However, do not mow the pasture closer than four inches above the soil.
  5. During excessive dry or wet conditions, remove horses from pastures.
  6. In pastures with excessive weeds, where pasture forages are thin, reseeding may be the best practice.
  7. High yielding, well-managed pastures will choke out weeds.

Interested in learning more about horses? Check out the Horses Learning Lessons.

Krishona Martinson, Equine Extension Specialist, University of Minnesota

How to be safe around horses

Illustration by Navah Rae Adams

1. If your normally well-mannered horse suddenly pushes into your space while you’re leading him back to his pasture, ignore it. He’s earned the right to “be a horse.”

2. If your horse gets antsy about being clipped, you should tie him up (safely!) before you begin in order to limit his moving about.

3. A good way to build a friendship bond with your horse is to tuck treats into your pockets and the folds of your clothes, then let him search you to find his “rewards.”

4. If, on a given day, your horse is “on the muscle” and hard to control while you’re riding him in the arena, a good solution is to take him out on the trail, where a change of scenery will help him relax.

HOW’D YOU DO? (Answers below.)

1. F is correct. Treat every instance of disrespect, no matter how small, as an opportunity to reinforce good behavior with your horse. Use it as a teaching moment, or else your horse can become “untrained” over time.

2. F is correct. Being tied—even safely—while being clipped will only increase a nervous horse’s feelings of claustrophobia and could even result in a pull-back wreck. One solution is to enlist the help of a friend to hold your horse for you during clipping.

3. F is correct. This is actually a good way to teach your horse to nip you. Yes, some people seem to get away with this sort of foolishness. until that one instance when they don’t. A better idea is to be safe and smart—all the time. (Learn more about feeding treats safely.)

4. F is correct. You’re less safe outside the arena. Fix misbehavior in a safely enclosed area, then go out on the trail.

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How to be safe around horses

Worried about keeping small children safe around the barn? Here’s a comprehensive set of safety rules for handling and riding horses, especially slanted for kids.

Safety on the Ground

Approaching, catching. Always speak to a horse to alert him of your presence before walking near; this avoids provoking his startle reflex. Approach from the side, to avoid his “blind” spots (directly in front of and behind him). Touch him first on the neck or shoulder, with a firm but gentle stroking motion.

Be especially careful when entering a pasture or paddock containing several horses (they can inadvertently jostle or step on you, or even kick). Also, don’t take grain or other food into a group of horses–this just entices them to crowd around you and could incite a “food fight,” with you caught in the middle.

Leading. Always use a lead rope attached to the horse’s halter, rather than grasping the halter itself, which provides no options if the horse were to startle. Don’t coil the end of the lead rope around your hand, where the loops could tighten; instead, fold it back and forth and grasp the middle of the folds. To avoid being pulled over and dragged, never wrap a lead rope or any other line attached to a horse around any part of your body.

Don’t allow the horse you’re leading to touch noses with an unfamiliar horse, as this can lead the “strangers” to suddenly bite or strike at one another. (This applies when you’re mounted, as well.)

Tying. Tie a horse “eye high and no longer than your arm,” meaning the tie knot should be at least as high as the horse’s eye, and the distance from the knot to the halter should be no more than the length of your arm. Tie only to a safe, solid object, using a quick-release knot or breakaway string (your child’s instructor will explain how). Keep your fingers out of the loops as you tie the knot. Tie only with a halter and lead, never with bridle reins.

Grooming/handling. Stand near the shoulder or next to the hindquarters rather than directly in front of or directly behind a horse when grooming his head or brushing or braiding his tail. To walk behind a horse, go either (1) close enough to brush against him (where a kick would have no real force), keeping one hand on his rump as you pass around; or (2) far enough away to be well out of kicking range. Avoid ducking under the tie rope; you might cause the horse to pull back, and you’d be extremely vulnerable to injury if he did.

Trailering. Never fight with a reluctant horse to get him into a trailer; seek professional help and retraining, if necessary. Once a horse is in the trailer, close the back door or ramp before you hitch him to the trailer tie. When unloading, untie the horse before opening the back of the trailer, so he doesn’t begin to back out on his own and hit the end of the rope, causing him to panic and pull back.

Turning loose. When turning out a horse or pony for exercise or returning him to his paddock or pasture, always turn his head back toward the gate and step through it yourself before slipping the halter off to avoid his heels in case he kicks them up in delight at freedom.

Feeding treats. Give carrot or apple chunks from the palm of a flattened hand to avoid being accidentally nipped. Better yet (especially in the case of greedy horses or ponies), put treats in a bucket before offering them.

Safety in the Saddle

Supervision. Until skills are well established, your child should ride only under supervision. This is especially crucial for younger children. Jumping should be supervised at all times.

Safety gear. Essentials include proper footwear (boots or shoes with hard toes and a heel) and, whenever mounted, a properly fitted helmet that meets current safety standards. [The Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) certifies helmets that meet or exceed the American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM) standard for equestrian headgear. Use only helmets with the ASTM/SEI mark.] Safety or breakaway stirrups (designed to release the foot easily in the event of a fall) are advisable, as is a safety vest for cross-country jumping.

Tacking up. A bit that pinches, ruffled hair under the saddle pad, a too-tight back cinch–any of these can cause a horse or pony to act up “unaccountably.” Make sure your child always follows her instructor’s rules for proper bridling and saddling. With your or her instructor’s help, she should also regularly inspect her equipment for signs of wear that could cause a rein, stirrup leather, or other essential part to break.

Preparing a fresh mount. A child’s horse or pony must always be evaluated for excess energy before the child mounts. Longeing by an experienced person will “take the edge” off a fresh horse and make it less likely he’ll act up when ridden. (Remember, excess energy results from overfeeding, lack of exercise, or both.)

Mounting. Your child should never mount where there are low overhead clearances or projections. She should follow proper technique (her instructor will show her how) and maintain contact with the reins as she swings aboard. Her horse or pony should stand still for mounting, or else be held by an adult until your child is securely in the saddle.

Paying attention. Staying calm, focused and alert in the saddle at all times is a key safeguard. Your child can have fun, but she mustn’t ever become careless or unmindful.

Trail riding. Don’t allow your child to ride out on the trail until her instructor deems she is ready, teaches her how, and assures that her mount is trail-safe. Your child shouldn’t ride out alone at any time.

How to be safe around horses

Before placing any plants in your stable’s landscape, be aware that many popular plants are hazardous to horses.

Editor’s note: A reader suggested after we ran an article about plants that are poisonous to horses that we write one about plants that are safe around horses. Thanks for the suggestion!

Spring is in the air. It’s the perfect time to plan enhancements to your stable’s landscape. There are a wide variety of plants that can add color, texture and beauty to the exterior of your barn. Hanging baskets, sidewalk borders and planned garden areas enriches the barn atmosphere for existing clients and catches the attention of potential clients.

Upgrading the landscape is an investment. Even annuals that only last one season can be expensive. Take time to learn which plants are the best fit for your property and lifestyle. “Landscapes are much more than a decorative addition for your stable,” said Matt Johnson, Principal at Equine Facility Design in Portland, Oregon.

Some links in articles are part of an Amazon Affiliate program that provides income to support this brand. Links are chosen by our editors.

While the point of landscaping is to beautify, add value and add character to your stable, a well-planned landscape design can also support water conservation, reduce the flow of pollutants into waterways and aid in fire resistance. Native plants, storm water runoff and drought-tolerant plants are buzzwords among landscape professionals today. Each of these plants, and others, might work as well on horse farms as they do residential or commercial properties.

But before placing any plants in your stable’s landscape, be aware that many popular plants are hazardous to horses. “The oleander, a southern flowering shrub which is dangerously toxic, yet used regularly in commercial and home landscaping,” Johnson explained.

Other favorites such as lilies, milkweeds, delphiniums, hyacinths, daffodils, or butterfly weed are also toxic to horses.

There might be situations where you choose to use a plant that can be poisonous to horses. “I was visiting one of the industry’s leading veterinary practices. Boxwood plants, which are highly toxic to horses, were all over the property,” he said.

When the facility manager was asked if he had any concern, his reply was, “no.” The plants were in areas the horses did not have access to.

“You have to decide for yourself the level of risk you want to take,” Johnson advised.

Choosing plants that are not toxic to horses is the safest bet. But careful planning can offer some stable owners a balance between the plants they love and keeping the horses in their care safe.

For example, keep plants a safe distance from horses.

“Add a little buffer zone between your walkway or barn entrance, and the beginning of your flower bed,” he suggested, “keep flowers planted along your barn perimeter trimmed below the reach of inquisitive noses peeking out of stall windows. A bored horse might eat just about anything, even if it’s toxic.”

Colorful Enhancement

The goal you have for the landscape will determine the plants you use. Annuals are a favorite choice for adding color. For the best success, pick plants that will thrive in the conditions you have. There also are edible flowers that can be added to your landscaping.

“For sunny areas, try a bright daisy-style flower, like Black-Eyed Susans,” Johnson suggested.

If you’re a fan of horse racing, you know that the winner of the Preakness Stakes is draped in a blanket of Black-Eyed Susans. These big yellow flowers love the sun and bloom all summer long. They also attract bees and butterflies, so plant them a little way away from your barn to enjoy the color and butterflies, without luring the bees inside.

In shady areas impatiens are a good choice. Hardy impatiens will grow almost anywhere. “I’ve stumbled across plots of them deep in the woods and they grow into big luxurious mounds when planted in the shade,” he said.

At stables, roof overhangs are an ideal place for these plants. Hanging baskets overflowing with impatients are popular choice for show barns. “Just ask yourself if you’ll remember to water the baskets before you take that route,” he cautioned.

Use a safe mulch in the planting beds to cut down on maintenance. Mulch prevents water from eroding the garden and helps hold moisture in the soil. “Be careful of the wood your mulch is made from; avoid black walnut or cocoa hull. For added fire safety, you can mulch around your flowers, then use gravel between the mulched areas and the barn, reducing the flammable fuel around your barn.

Native Plants

Annuals add color and texture to the landscape, but they require a lot of maintenance and water. Native, regionally specific, plants require less water to survive. These plants are naturally found in specific regions and/or climates. Because they are naturally adapted to survive in a specific climate, the list of specific plants to consider varies dramatically across the country.

Most native plants are perennials. Once they are established, they will thrive for many seasons. The key to success is choosing the right plant for the right place. Take time to understand the site and lighting.Plants placed outside their natural “comfort zone” will struggle and need more water to look healthy.

Checklist of Native Plants by Region

Whether you’re caring for your horses or taking in boarders, fences are a necessary investment for every stable. Even barns without turnout paddocks need perimeter fencing to keep loose horses contained.

There’s a variety of fencing systems to choose from. High-tensile, poly tape/wire, woven, PVC, wood, and portable panels have become popular alternatives to timber because they are budget-friendly. The trade-off is that they can be time-consuming and costly to maintain.

Each of these materials has risks for injury. Splinters from wood fences can get embedded in a horse that rubs. Wire and tape can get wrapped around a leg if a horse runs through it. PVC fences may not hurt a horse but easily shatter with an impact like a kick.

High-Density Poly Ethylene (HDPE) plastic fencing is an innovative option that is safer and more durable. You’re already familiar with HDPE without even realizing it. The material is widely popular as decking material because of its longevity. It’s also used to make plastics labeled 2—think milk jugs, laundry detergent, cutting boards, and piping.

How to be safe around horses

Durable and ready for harsh weather conditions, Tangent Technologies’ low-maintenance recycled plastic fencing is ideal for horse stables and fences.

Choosing HDPE over traditional options brings a host of benefits. Here are three reasons to consider plastic wood fencing for your next project.

Aesthetics

Appearance is as important as safety. Loose wire, sagging tape, rotted or broken fence posts look sloppy. Unfortunately, perception is reality. Unkempt fencings suggest that the details aren’t important, which makes visitors question all aspects of the horse’s care.

Plastic rail fencing mimics the iconic painted wood fencing look and showcases your hard work. It is customizable so you can choose from a collection of white, browns, and grays. Stains and textures replicate the appearance of natural wood. The colors won’t chip or bleed like paint or stains because they are part of the manufacturing process.

Low maintenance

No one enjoys mending fences. Plastic fencing can help you reduce time and money on repairs compared to other materials. Recycled plastic lumber does not rot, splinter, corrode or decay or need to be painted. That leaves you more time to ride or interact with clients. Specially formulated additives strengthen the plastic to avoid damage from UV rays while offering a consistent color and texture.

HDPE plastic fencing is sturdier than PVC fencing. It’s even used around corrals at zoos. If it can hold in exotic animals, it can hold in a horse and doesn’t splinter when kicked. Other fencing materials become brittle when it’s cold but HDPE plastic can withstand temperatures that drop to 60 below.

How to be safe around horses

Demetrio Carrasco / Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

Losing a horse is heartbreaking and it’s especially so if all it would have taken is a little knowledge to prevent the loss. Losing a horse to tree poisoning is devastating, partially because we see trees as part of our horse’s natural surroundings.

Anything in your horse’s pastures is fair game for tasting. If there is plenty of other food, such as grass or hay available, your horse probably won’t touch any of the trees within its reach. But, if it gets bored or hungry, to satisfy its need to graze, your horse might try chewing on tree bark, branches or leaves. Some horses love the taste of willow, staghorn sumac, and a few others. Others nibble out of habit or curiosity, rather than hunger or taste. But, what this all means, is that any tree that’s growing within a horse pasture should be safe to eat.

Generally, horse owners don’t plant trees in pastures for this reason. Saplings have a good chance of being aggressively pruned by horses–to the point where you’ll be left with nothing but a ragged stick. If you do plant trees, you’ll need to find a way to safely protect them, until they are large enough that they are no longer a tender snack. The protection needs to be safe for both horses and the tree. If you plan to plant for a windbreak, it’s probably best to plant the trees on the outside of your pasture fence, just beyond your horse’s reach. And of course, you’ll want to plant trees that are safe if they are eaten.

Toxic Trees

Many pastures included forested areas. These provide important shade and shelter from the wind and are a nice addition to a natural setting. But, you may want to check that there are no trees that are actually toxic to your horse. The links in the following list will take you to descriptions of the trees for easy identification. Toxic trees and shrubs in North America include:

  • Junipers
  • Cherry, Peach and Plum trees
  • Locusts, including honey and black
  • Yew
  • Oleander
  • Mountain Laurel
  • Box (Shrub)
  • Boxwood
  • Elderberry
  • Buttonbush
  • Horse Chestnut
  • Pines (when eaten in great quantity)
  • Black Walnut
  • Red Oak
  • White Sumac

Ingesting the leaves or needles, wood or bark of these trees can be fatal. Chances are if your horse snatches a mouthful of red maple or oak leaves while trail riding, it won’t be harmed. Many of these trees, bushes or shrubs won’t be attractive to your horse. They probably don’t taste good, and if better food is available, the horse won’t touch them. But if your horse gets hungry or greedy, a stomach full of leaves or tender bark could spell trouble, however.

Because most of these toxic trees don’t taste very good, horses will leave them alone. But, during drought, when pasture grass is sparse, your horse might snack on the trees despite the taste. In the springtime, emerging leaves may taste fresher to your horse than a dry hay bale. Storms can down branches, putting otherwise unattainable tempting leaves within reach. And, in the autumn leaves on the ground may be attractive to some horses. Sometimes it’s simply not practical to cut all the trees down that may be toxic. Instead, be vigilant for opportunities or situations that might lead to your horse ingesting any part of a toxic tree.

Warning

If you suspect your horse has eaten parts of a toxic tree, call your veterinarian. Prompt veterinary treatment may be required.

How to be safe around horses

Safe Trees

If you do wish to plant trees for shade or windbreak in or near your pastures, you might consider the following:

Any variety of maple, other than red–as long as it hasn’t hybridized with red maple.

  • Poplars
  • Eastern or Canadian Hemlock (not water hemlock which is a plant and is toxic)
  • Willow
  • Staghorn Sumac (shrub)

Even though these trees are safe, a horse can still overeat bark, twigs or leaves, which can lead to colic. If you notice your horse is sampling the greenery, be sure it isn’t gorging itself.