Can CBD help your horse?

You’ve been probably been hearing more lately about cannabidiol (CBD) supplements for horses. Here are the basics about this new and growing segment of the equine supplement marketplace:

• CBD is extracted from the flowers and buds of cannabis plants. The compound is promoted as providing the health benefits of the herb without the “high” associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psycho-
active component in marijuana.

• The primary catalyst for the explosive growth in the CBD industry was passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp (and derivatives with low levels of THC) from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. That, combined with increasing acceptance—both legally and socially—of cannabis products, opened the door to many new products for people and animals—including horses.

• CBD products for horses are formulated to help with a variety of problems including anxiety, arthritis and muscle soreness.

• In human medicine, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one CBD product for treatment of two rare forms of childhood epilepsy, and research into other treatments is ongoing. Efficacy studies on CBD’s effects on horses are ongoing.

• If you compete, be aware that natural and synthetic cannabinoids are listed as prohibited substances by both the U.S. Equestrian Federation and Fédération Equestre International.

Finally, dietary supplements are rarely tested by the FDA and the agency does not officially “approve” these products, nor does the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In general, reputable manufacturers will include an ingredients list and contact information for consumer questions on the product packaging, label and/or website.