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.