Atypical myopathy can be a problem in the spring as well as the autumn. The number of cases has been high throughout the UK over the last few winters and spring due to the unseasonal weather we are currently having. Today’s blog takes a look at how we can minimise the causes of this poisoning and how best to manage the ground we graze.

Atypical Myopathy:

This is caused by the toxin Hypoglycin A. It is found on the seeds and seedlings of some but not all acers. Acers are trees such as sycamore and these are also related to the Maple family. Since you can’t easily identify those seeds and seedlings that contain the toxin, the easiest and safest way to minimise the risks, is to remove them from your grazing ground.

Clinical signs:
  • Colic signs
  • Muscle stiffness +/- tremors
  • Sweating 
  • High heart rate 
  • Depressed with their head hung low
  • Brown or dark red urine 
  • Weakness, struggling or reluctance to walk and/or have difficulty standing
  • Breathing difficulties¬†
  • Sudden death

The symptoms/signs of atypical myopathy can come on rapidly and the fatality rate is up to 62% of affected equines even if they are caught early and are intensively treated.

Grazing Management:
  • Using weed killer or mowing doesn’t get rid of the seedlings
  • Clearing the ground by hand is the only way
  • Removing sycamore trees from your boundaries
  • Feeding horses from a height using hay mangers
  • Supplementing their grazing to reduce the risk of accidental ingestion
  • The toxins can leach into ground water sources so if using ponds or slow moving streams as your water source it may be beneficial to have clean tap water supply also.
  • Not feeding under trees will also minimise the seedlings be accidentally ingested.

Hospitalisation and intensive care treatment especially with mild clinical signs is the best way to enable recovery from this toxicity. Therefore if finances allow the best thing to do is seek veterinary assistance quickly to give your horse or pony the best chance.

If you have any questions on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact the office on 01782 898102