By Angela Ardolino
Updated on January 5, 2021
The use of CBD has been most emphasized in regard to its therapeutic effects on people, and now dogs, but the benefits for horses have not been heavily addressed. Like all other mammals, horses also possess the system allowing them to benefit from this compound as well; the endocannabinoid system.
It comes as no surprise more horse lovers are looking into CBD tinctures as a natural alternative for many ailments including:
Natural healing is becoming more popular in today’s culture and efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle for not only us, but our pets as well, is extremely important.
How CBD Interacts with Your Horse
The endocannabinoid system is responsible for homeostasis (balance) within the body. Just as with us and our dogs, a horse’s body reacts with the cannabinoids (CBD) to determine and resolve bodily imbalances at the cellular level. When researching the effects of CBD on animals, you may notice the research on horses is limited. But, luckily every mammal possesses an endocannabinoid system. This means the research documented in mice, cats, dogs, and other animals in regard to CBD can also be applied to horses. You can learn more about the endocannabinoid system here.
CBD is an active chemical compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant and is known as a cannabinoid. Hemp and marijuana plants both belong to the Cannabis genus, but hemp contains less than 0.3% THC and is legal across all 50 states in the US. THC is also a well-known cannabinoid, but unlike THC, CBD does not cause any type of ‘high’ in your horse (or any pet). Instead, CBD is primarily utilized for therapeutic purposes to keep your horse healthy.
At this time, the research regarding horses is limited, but the anecdotal evidence is exceptional. First-hand accounts from horse lovers have indicated that CBD has resulted in significant improvement of their horses’ ailments.
20-Year-Old Paso Fino Horse: Beneficial CBD Effects
According to a study conducted by the AVMA, a woman named Becky Flowers decided to try cannabis for her 20-year-old Paso Fino horse who was suffering from degenerative ligament disease. The study states “The Southern Californian’s pet horse, a 20-year-old Paso Fino named Phoenix, had had degenerative ligament disease for several years. But nearly a year ago, the condition worsened. Phenylbutazone, glucosamine, Cavallo boots, cold and warm wraps—whatever Flowers tried, it didn’t help the horse for long. Eventually, Phoenix lay on her side and stopped eating and drinking.”
Prior to euthanization, Flowers made the decision to provide cannabis to her horse as she had found it to be a more powerful analgesic (pain management solution) than any medication she had seen prior. She had tried cannabis herself for various conditions including surgeries, spinal spurs, and arthritis. She wondered, if it worked for her, why couldn’t it work for her horse?
She stated within one hour of ingesting cannabis, Phoenix had begun to walk, eat, and drink. Ms. Becky Flowers stated in an excerpt, “with cannabis, I don’t worry about potential liver damage as with bute. I also don’t worry about overdosing, as I only give her a small amount. She never appears panicky or disoriented. She’s just her normal, happy Phoenix.”
Study by Texas A & M in Progress
Since the Farm Bill passed in 2018 removing industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, researchers at Tarleton State University’s Equine Center in Texas have been beginning, and now conducting, a study to learn more about CBD and horses (Tarleston is part of Texas A&M- a leading agricultural university).
According to Dr. Kimberly Guay, an Assistant Professor at the University, “horse owners have all heard the hype about the potential benefits of CBD oil. Here at Tarleton, we are working to give them reliable data.” She continued to state the level of interest associated with this study is intense as horse lovers await the data to be released. The study, led by Dr. Kimberly Guay, is measuring the effects of CBD on inflammation, stress, lameness, pain, and negative behaviors in horses.
In this study, Dr. Guay and her student researchers are administering different types of CBD (oil, pellets) to horses and measuring their heart rate and cortisol levels. They are also observing horses to determine if CBD may help with cribbing behaviors, and other types of obsessive-compulsive equine behavior.
Dr. Guay stated “By the end of this study, we hope to have the data that will define and document what exactly is going on with the horses. Is it actually helping to minimize stress and stereotypical behavior?” She hopes that once the evidence is available for horses, food production animals can be next on the list to be studied.
The results of this study are expected to be published in 2021.
No Adverse Effects
CBD is also well-tolerated without any adverse side effects aside from occasional drowsiness. According to research, CBD has been shown to help with the following conditions:
Pain: CBD may reduce pain and inflammation caused by arthritis and/or laminitis.
Anxiety and Stress: Can be utilized for horses who become anxious when confined to a stall or prior to entering a horse trailer
Ulcers/ Gut Problems
As horse people ourselves, we understand the concerns that come along with horse life. One of the concerns here is competition involvement for those who are involved in barrel racing, shows, and other horse-related events.
If you are involved in horse competitions, the FEI and United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) declared strict rules regarding any medication prior to any type of event as of September 1, 2019. THC is one of the cannabis-derived products involved in this type of violation. Unlike THC, full-spectrum CBD does not contain a sufficient amount of THC to incur a positive test result when purchased from a reliable source. If your horse has been taking cannabinoids, it may be recommended to stop dosage for approximately 10 days prior to the event.
Endocannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system are responsible for keeping your horse’s body in balance (homeostasis). If there is some type of imbalance, the compounds from a full-spectrum extract will assist in triggering the correct response to allow your horse’s body to heal naturally.
When cannabinoids, like CBD, are introduced into the endocannabinoid system, they help to bring balance to bodies of humans, dogs, cats, and horses, who have some type of ailment or deficiency (cancer, seizures, anxiety, inflammation, pain).
Additional research is being conducted every day, and there are continuous advances in how to best utilize the endocannabinoid system to heal the body naturally. Due to its non-psychotropic (will not get your horse ‘high’) effects, CBD has been the primary focus in cannabinoid research. The therapeutic potential here is endless.
About Angela Ardolino
Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years and operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of Beautify the Beast, a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, she founded CBD Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets. Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day, and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Veterinary Cannabis Association and has trained hundreds medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals. Visit www.angelaardolino.com for more information.