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CBD Research in Horses

Multiple studies are underway to look at the effects of non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) on inflammation, stress and stereotypical behaviors in horses.

Interest in using cannabidiol for domestic animals has escalated with the legalization of marijuana in many states. Tarleton State University’s Equine Center, part of Texas A & M University, is evaluating the effects of non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) on inflammation, stress and stereotypical negative behavior in horses. Horses in the trial are given CBD in oil or pellets, then heart rate and cortisol levels are measured along with observations of the horses for CBD effects on pain, lameness, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

In addition, the study examines how long CBD remains in a horse’s system as that information impacts a horse owner’s ability to comply with drug-free competition requirements. Results of this study are forthcoming in 2021.

Another pilot study is being conducted at Murray State University to examine the effects of CBD for behavior modification in horses [Jones, K.; Thomas, E.; Draeger, A.; and Porr, S. Evaluation of CBD Supplementation in the Horse].

An initial project looked at detection in blood of two horses given a single dose of 50 mg CBD in oil or pellets at 1 and 2 hours post administration. No CBD was detected in any of the blood analysis at the standard lower limit concentration of 1 ng/ml.

A second project over a 12-hour period evaluated pharmacokinetics with three groups of six horses each: a) single dose of 50 mg pellets; b) single dose of 100 mg pellets; c) single dose of 250 mg pellets. Blood samples were collected at pre-treatment, 30 minutes, and at 1, 2, 4, and 12 hours after administration. Peak concentration and clearance times mirrored results found in other species. The highest dose of 250 mg was consistently detected at 1 ng/ml. Liver enzymes changed but remained within normal levels, yet this needs further study.

The third project evaluates behavior and movement of 12 horses each in two groups: a) 100 mg pellets given daily for 12 weeks compared to controls given pellets without CBD. The study measures behavioral reactions to novel objects and impact of CBD on pain and performance related to flexion and movement evaluations. Blood is analyzed every two weeks over the 12 weeks of supplementation. This project is in process at the time of this writing.

Murray State University personnel initially concluded that the recommended small animal dose of CBD of 25-50 mg/day is too low for horses. Using higher doses, the low-end dose over time might accumulate in the tissues and after several weeks might modify adverse behaviors. Higher doses might achieve more immediate results to mitigate painful conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Multiple studies are underway to look at the effects of non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) on inflammation, stress and stereotypical behaviors in horses.

Researchers explore the effects of cannabidiol on horses

Researchers in Texas have been overwhelmed by the interest in their study exploring the potential benefits to horses of using cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp.

Using CBD to treat horses with arthritis or anxiety has become mainstream since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp in the United States.

CBD is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in hemp and marijuana. It is the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana that is mainly responsible for the drug’s psychoactive properties, whereas its levels in hemp are very low.

However, it has yet to be confirmed whether CBD benefits horses.

The study examining this question is being led by Dr Kimberley Guay at the Equine Center at Tarleton State University, part of the Texas A&M University network.

Guay’s study seeks to quantify how CBD affects inflammation, stress and stereotypical negative behaviors in horses.

Guay and her student researchers from Tarleton’s equine science classes are giving horses in the trial different kinds of CBD, such as oil or pellets.

Then they measure the physiological effects of the non-psychoactive substance on the horses’ heart rate, as well as levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

They are also monitoring the horses after dosing them with CBD to note its effect on common obsessive-compulsive behaviors such as cribbing.

“We are also tracking how long CBD stays in the horse’s system,” Guay says.

“Many people who compete with their horses are interested in using CBD products to reduce stress and inflammation, but many event organizers are still working through their CBD restrictions for horses in competition.”

Guay says the research has grabbed the attention of horse owners around the world.

“I have just been overwhelmed by the level of interest in this study.

“By now, horse owners have all heard the hype about the potential benefits of CBD oil. Here at Tarleton, we are working to give them the reliable data that’s just not there yet.”

Guay says she expects to publish the results in 2021.

John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M University system, praised the practical, fact-based study, expressing confidence it will sort the facts from the hype.

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4 thoughts on “ Researchers explore the effects of cannabidiol on horses ”

In the 70s it led to Equine deaths because of heart issues. But time passes and people forget.

Are there any articles on that you know of? I would be interested to read them.

Do you have anything to link to support your statement?

"Horse owners have all heard the hype about the potential benefits of CBD oil … we are working to give them the reliable data …"