Hogweed and Horses

I first came across Hogweed many years ago when my little palomino Solas developed thick blisters on the pale skin of his nose. Initially I assumed he was suffering from sunburn and proceeded to smother his pink skin in sun screen, as any good horse mom would.

However, the blistering didn’t stop. Watching him in the paddock one day I noticed he was eating the tall, thick leaves of a white flower – which turned out to be Hogweed.

Years ago while Solas’ skin was healing from Hogweed blistering and burns

Hogweed is a phototoxic plant. This means that toxins in the plant cause cause the skin to react when exposed to sunlight. Its sap can cause severe reactions to skin if touched and if ingested, causes extreme photo-sensitivity. This means that when a reaction occurs and the skin is exposed to sunlight, it causes severe lesions and/or blistering that appear as burns.


If untreated, these lesions can get infected. In such cases, veterinary assistance is recommended as there may be a need for antibiotics. However, in my experience, removing the plant from the paddock and sheltering your horse during peak sunshine hours are sufficient. Aloe Vera based lotions or creams specific for skin irritations also work well.

Recently I noticed that our neighbour’s cobs were suffering from blistered muzzles – which indicated they have been munching on the wild Hogweed which is growing on the ditches in our local area. These guys have plenty of grazing so I can only imagine that Hogweed must taste good!

Hogweed is robust in nature and it’s seeds can survive for up to 15 years before germinating. It comes from the same family as Celery and is closely related to Cow Parsley, which we know is a firm favourite of our equine friends.

Funnily enough, it’s taller and even more poisonous relations, Giant Hogweed, is known as “Feabhrán Capaill” in Irish – which literally means Horse Hogweed!




5 thoughts on “Hogweed and Horses

  1. I shared this on Facebook. I think we have another name for this plant and it is classed as a noxious weed. I have asked FB readers to tell me what we call it here in Csnada.


  2. Someone replied on Facebook and we call it Giant Hogweed. Ours is dangerous to humans as well and if you see one of them you have to call a local government ministry that will come and remove them. Seems they are dangerous to touch. So maybe ours are a mutant rogue version of yours.


    1. We have the giant variety here too, luckily I haven’t seen it around home. As far as I know you have to report it here too! I’ve done a bit of reading on common hogweed and it seems some people forage for it and eat it! I also read that in some cases it’s toxicity levels are higher as the plant can sense when it’s under threat and releases more toxins to protect itself!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Common hogweed is a nasty very invasive weed which caused bad blisters on my recently adopted horse with a pale nose. I first thought it was sunburn from a very hot spell we had but then began to realize that it could be the hogweed she was browsing around which proved to be correct. On researching selective weedkillers Glyphosite kills it, but the grass as well as everything else including bees so I,m going to use Grazon Pro which the company ‘Progreen’ told me kills it off. This hogweed also effects humans the same way so gloves are needed to deal with it in any way.

    Liked by 1 person

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