All natural horse care in the west of Ireland

Fertilizer Poisioning
Tuesday, 29 June 2010

May 2010

What happened was the fields where my horses graze was fertilized by the farmer who owns the land. I dont like fertilizing the land for the horses but the farmer insisted that it so after a lot of discussion he put fertilizer on very lightly. Only half a ton over 5 acres.

Well I was away in UK in May and my husband called to say that he was asked to move the horses into the pasture which had only been fertlilized 10 days before. I was not happy about this but was assured by the owner that it would be OK as we had had some rain.

I had read somewhere that you should not put horses out on fertilized land until you had seen at least 1inch of rain. We had not seen anywhere near an inch of rain by this time.

Anyway I returned from UK 5 days later to find that Magpie was very poorly and could hardly move. She seemed to have seized up and look like she was in the middle of a very severe attack of laminitis without any heat in her feet. Her udders were swollen solid like she had mastitis as well.

She struggled to walk back to the house from the field. It was pitiful to watch!!! This mare had been barefoot and sound since 2003 and has almost perfect solid hooves!! 

My farrier checked her feet and gave her a trim and even commented that although she was indeed very stiff laminitis would not be top of his list of ailments.

A week later her son, Harley who is now 4 years old, developed a swollen sheath. It was the size of a football!! He was also barely able to walk

My farrier came again and checked both of them. Still no heat in the hooves!!

One of the evenings when Harley was looking particularly uncomfortable I brought him home, hosed his sheath with cold water and his with KY Jelly and MADE him move around for about half an hour. He was so not impressed at having to move and was obviously in a lot of discomfort.

I couldn't believe that 2 horses would be subject to the same symptoms, at the same time.

I called my vet as I suspected that the fertilizer might have something to do with the symptoms they were suffering. This was now two weeks after the symptoms appeared and they were not getting any better.

He confirmed that fertilizer poisoning could indeed cause symptoms similar to laminitis and odema (swollen sheaths and udders) but these symptoms would normally be accompanied by very loose bowels.

They did have very loose bowels but I did not associate this with their condition only a switch from hay to grass.

he also commented that at this stage he would have expected the fertilizer to have washed through their systems at this stage. But they were still very poorly and did not seem to be improving.

He prescribed diarazone powders for 2 day which did give them a 'little' relief. But they still weren't good.

I started to research their symptoms and kept coming up with results indicating IR (Insulin Resistance)!!

Could it be that both developed the same problem at the same time?

Well the only think I could think of is that the fertilizer 'triggered' a problem that caused both horses to develop the same symptoms at the same time.

Anyway, long story short (or shorter that what actually happened) I discovered a paper on IR describing the symptoms exactly and there was even a photo of a gelding with a sheath the same as Harley's. 

So after LOT of research I decided to treat them for IR and see what happened. What did I have to lose, they were not getting any better. 

Magpie had had her feet checked 3 times and trimmed twice, even though she appeared like a laminitic there was no heat in her hooves. Harley the same. And bother her udders and his sheath were still swollen.

This is one of the websites that I found most interesting:

I have ordered this HEIRO supplement from the US as it is not yet available in Europe. 

Friday 25th June:

In the meantime, while I waited for the supplement to arrive, I started using Redmills Lamicare Balancer which is high in Magnesium (similar levels as HEIRO) but lacks the high levels of Vitamin E (anti oxidant) that exists in the HEIRO. It is not cheap at 29 EURO per bag and feed 100g per 100kg of bodyweight.

I included Baby in the trial!! She has been fed conditioning cubes daily even though she is still on grass.

All the ponies are still on grass, if you could call it grass. There is little more than an inch of grass on the field they are turned out on

I gave the 3 ponies each the required weight of Lamicare together with a scoop of Hi Fi Lite every morning since Friday (5 Days).


Since day 2 Harley and Magpie appeared to be getting better
Day 5, this morning, they both walked confidently to the gate for the first time in weeks for their breakfast!! 

As a side issue, since Magpie and Harley have been poorly the mechanics of my little herd has changed!!

Polly is now the lead mare (taken over from Magpie) and has buddied up with Harley. Magpie (ex. aggressive Alpha) has now paired up with Baby (who was always exorcised from the herd)!! 

Summary (and this is just my opinion):

The fertilizer seems to have done some damage or caused the pancreas to stop working properly. This is the organ that controls the insulin levels. This is why they were showing signs of laminitis even though their hooves were not indicating heat or any other obvious signs of laminits that would be obvious to a farrier or vet.

This type of IR would be similiar to a Type 2 diabetes in humans.

The introduction of higher levels of Magnesum helps alleviate the conditions/symptons by prompting the pancreas to start working and controlling the insulin levels.

This seems to be supported by what I have read on

We all know our horses and while I was finding it hard to accept that both my horses may have suddenly developed laminitis the results of supplementing them with balancer high levels of magnesium is telling me my instincts may have been correct. That there was a trigger and I just had to find the cure.

Lets hope so anyway! 

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