Hemp For Horses? Studies Show It Might Work
Since the 2018 Farm Bill(1) made manufacturing industrial hemp legal in the United States, horse owners have been wondering about the benefits of CBD for their horses. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of data or even anecdotal evidence in this area, as this is a fairly new idea. CBD products, which are derived from hemp, are not legal in all 50 U.S. states, but are mandated to contain less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), differentiating it from non-hemp cannabis (commonly known as marijuana).
Researchers at Tarleton State University in Texas are currently studying (2) the effects of CBD on farm animals, including horses, for the purposes of everything from relief from pain and inflammation to the treatment of stress induced by transportation or being confined in small spaces.
As far as horses go, the study is also even including data on whether CBD can manage obsessive-compulsive behaviors(3) in horses, which are often triggered by prolonged, intense stress caused by an unnaturally restrictive and/or isolative environment. Unfortunately, this is common (4) in horses used for racing, breeding, and other performance horses. Researchers at Tarleton are finding out how CBD affects things like anxiety, inflammation, and negative behaviors in horses, and they hope to be able to apply their findings to livestock animals.
In order to record findings qualitatively, data like heart rates, cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the bloodstream, and inflammatory markers are measured in the horses before and after administering either CBD oil or edible pellets containing CBD. Since CBD contains so little THC, it has no psychoactive effects as far as “getting high” or affecting motor skills or balance, but it has been shown in humans to lessen pain(5) and speed healing(6). The effects of CBD on “cribbing” is being studied as well. Cribbing is a common behavior in horses that are often in a trailer, and involves them biting on gates or fences(7).
Interestingly, this study is also analyzing how CBD affects fertility in horses and cattle using in-vitro cell cultures in a laboratory. Prior research suggests that there are endocannabinoid receptors located inside the ovaries, so the researchers want to know what happens when these receptors are exposed to CBD.
Can horses take CBD?
As far as equine sports goes, this study will also show exactly how long CBD stays in a horse’s system, because this information will be necessary for horses using CBD that are involved in dressage, endurance riding, and jumping. This is because the U.S. Equestrian Federation decided(8) in 2019 that horses that test positive for CBD will be in violation of their rules. Their reasoning was that they surmised that the compound would decrease the nervousness necessary in the horses to perform.
However, for those involved in the health and well-being of horses not used for sport or profit, such as the lay horse owner and equine veterinarians, there has been an outpouring of support for this exciting research. Anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD can vastly improve the quality of life of horses suffering from pain, inflammation, stress, and even behavioral issues in the future. That, in turn, will greatly increase the quality of life of countless horse lovers, and that is a win for everybody.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
*Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or prior to using any CBD products.