SEVERAL horses have died as a result of poisoning brought on by eating ‘toxic’ seeds.
Sycamore seeds – commonly known as ‘helicopters’ because of the way they fall – contain a toxin called Hypoglycin A.
If eaten, this can cause muscle weakness and, ultimately, organ failure in horses.
Lisa Fisher, from Emsworth was forced to have her gelding, Bullet, put down after eating sycamore seeds.
The 44-year-old said: ‘Bullet had been standing still. We thought his muscles were tight from the show he’d been in the day before but phoned the vet anyway.’
Bullet was rushed into the emergency clinic at Liphook Equine Hospital.
Blood tests confirmed the healthy six-year-old had contracted blood poisoning from sycamore seeds and was put down
The field, in Emsworth, has been occupied by Lisa’s horses for more than six years.
Lisa’s seven other horses have now been moved from their enclosure. The two sycamore trees near the field have been felled.
She added: ‘Bullet was such a sweet, kind horse. He will never be forgotten.
‘I’m shocked at how little is known about this.
‘It’s sad knowing such a little thing has killed my Bullet.’
While it’s been known for decades that horses can die from eating sycamore seeds, there has been an unusually high number of deaths recently.
It’s believed four horses in Hayling Island and two in Hambledon have also been put down after eating the seeds.
Dr Andy Durham, a vet from Liphook Equine Hospital, confirmed several cases at his clinic.
He has two theories of what’s behind the rise.
He said: ‘The two most popular ideas about the recent influx in cases are that the seeds contain more toxins and/or the sycamore trees are producing more seeds under stress.
‘Some researchers have tied these theories to global warming and a change in weather patterns.’
Dr Durham added: ‘Since treating my first case over 25 years ago there wasn’t much hope. Since 2011 there has been a much higher rate of survival.’
Since its first documentation more than a century ago there’s still no direct cure for the toxin.
The matter recently came to national attention after Eva Machan, nine, of Henley-on-Thames, was forced to put down her pony because of the seed.
The matter has come to national attention after Eva Machan, of Henley-on-Thames, Oxon, was forced to put down her pony because of the seed.