Identify plants to keep horses safe

Some plants can be harmful to horses. Look for different plants in your horse’s paddock and check if they’re safe.

Last edited: 11/04/2024

Before you get started

Health and safety

Young people should never touch plants unless an adult is present and is certain of the plant identity.

Wear gloves when identifying and removing plants, and additional protective equipment for fencing off trees.

Be careful of adders on warm days, particularly in long grass and woodlands.


A safe living area


Identify plants in your horse’s living area

Look around your horse’s living area and photograph the different plants, trees, and hedges you find.


Try to name as many as you can, and carry out some research to fill in any gaps.


Make a note of harmful plants

The following plants, trees and hedges are harmful to horses.


Ragwort, groundsel, laburnum, broom, lupin, bracken, buttercup, hemlock, water dropwort, cowbane, foxglove, hard rush, horsetail.

Trees and hedges
Yew, oak, sycamore, rhododendron, deadly nightshade, laurel, privet, box.


Examine your photographs to identify any harmful plants, trees, or hedges discovered during your investigation (you can learn more about each plant type here).


Preventing harm

Speak to an adult to decide what to do if you have found toxic plants in a horse’s living area.

This might involve:

  • Removing plants and their roots, and disposing of them immediately out of all horses' reach – they can remain toxic after being pulled out or dried
  • Fencing off trees
  • Land management strategies


Receive your certificate

Take a photograph of your horse paddock or a plant, tree or hedge you’ve identified.

Upload the photograph below to receive your certificate. 

Share your work to inspire others and celebrate what you’ve achieved!


Get a practical animal welfare certificate!

If you’ve just completed this activity, upload a photo and get your own animal health certificate!

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