Common Name
Fringed sage, sagewort
Botanic Name
Artemesia frigida
Plant Family
Open meadows and plains at higher altitudes
Animals Affected
Toxic Principle
Sesquiterpene lactones and essential oils or monoterpenes are toxic to horses, but not to cattle, sheep, goats and wild ruminants. The toxicity of sage varies considerably depending on growing conditions, and season, being most toxic in the fall and winter months. Horses generally can eat small amounts of sage without problem. Sage poisoning occurs when the sage becomes the sole source of food such as in winter.
Low, spreading small shrub-like plant, growing to 12 inches when in flower. Multiple, densely haired leaves, bluish-gray in color, arise from a woody crown. The leaves have a sage fragrance, and are 2-3 times divided into thread-like filaments. The inflorescence is a panicle with small whitish flowers. An invasive plant in overgrazed range land.
Sage smell to the breath and feces.
Supportive therapy, including protection from extreme climatic conditions will aid in the recovery. They should not be ridden until fully recovered and evaluated for normal behavior and neurologic function.
Nervous System
Sage poisoned horses are ataxic, and act abnormally when stressed or handled. Behavior is unpredictable, with the animal falling down unexpectedly, circling or walking into objects.
Abnormal behavior, sage smell to the breath.
Special Notes
Clinical signs closely resemble those of a horse that has been poisoned by locoweeds. However, unlike "locoed" horses that do not recover, "saged" horses tend to recover in 1-2 weeks after they stop eating sage and are fed a nutritious diet.