Game changer

Allison Goldberg

It’s not often that you find something that literally changes everything for the better, without a down-side to it. But two years ago, when I bought my dream horse, and subsequently realized he was more of a hot mess than a dream, I decided to try CBD or cannabidiol. Why not? The only thing I had to lose was my horse – I couldn’t ride him safely and at my age, I didn’t need an accident waiting to happen. At the suggestion of our barn owner and lead trainer, I tried a CBD product in pellet form that was simply added to his feed. When I didn’t see much in the way of results, we decided to try the oil and after a good bit of dosage trial and error, we finally saw results. There was my horse in all his beautiful glory, standing quietly for the farrier, the vet and most importantly, me.

So, what is CBD, you might ask, and how does it work? CBD is a phyto-cannabinoid, which simply means that it is a plant-derived substance from the plant Cannibus. But that’s marijuana, you might say, and isn’t that illegal? CBD is only one of the many active ingredients in cannibus sative and hemp. Another is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which causes the “high” that marijuana is known for. While some CBD formulations do have varying amounts of THC in them, called full-spectrum CBD, we chose to use CBD isolate for our oil because it has no THC, which was confirmed by repeated third party testing in Colorado and Chicago. As to the legality of CBD, in 2018, the Congress passed the “Farm Bill” which federally legalized CBD as long as the THC content is below .3%. This has opened the floodgates for the CBD market, as you have probably noticed.

"Horses like mine that could seriously injure someone have calmed down and become trainable. They are not dopey or drugged, just calm. "

The way CBD works is still being studied, but I will try to summarize what we know. Every living being has a system in their body called the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. The primary function of this system is to regulate homeostasis which encompasses the brain, endocrine and immune systems. The ECS is considered one of the most important systems in the body. This system consists of endocannabinoid receptors which are found in cells located throughout the body. Your body, as well as your horse’s body, is a busy hub of microscopic cells that interact in a symphony of communications. Each individual cell has a protein receptor waiting to receive and transfer information. Cells send and receive chemical messages to coordinate the actions of cells, tissues, and even organs. The Endocannabinoid system helps regulate the communication of cells by interacting with the receptors in your horse’s cells.

While the body has its own endogenous cannabinoids, plant-derived cannabinoids such as CBD have been found to have therapeutic effects on the ECS as well. Although no formal studies have been done on horses, CBD has been found to have certain therapeutic effects in humans. The most formal studies have been on the use of Epidiolex, a purified CBD oral solution approved by the FDA for treatment of epilepsy. However, research has shown that CBD can have therapeutic effects on many other conditions such as pain, depression, anxiety, inflammation, and migraines in humans.

So how does that affect your horse? Your horse is a living organism with the same ECS that humans have. Although no major studies have yet been conducted on CBD’s therapeutic effect on horses, it stands to reason that they would have much the same response as we do. And as it turns out, we have overwhelmingly found our horses to improve on CBD. But it requires oil much stronger than the CBD oil products commonly found in your local pharmacies. Horses require a much larger dose than you would give to yourself or your dog, starting around 50mg twice a day, and then adjusting dosage as needed. Giving a horse CBD in his feed also is not ideal since most of it is filtered out through the liver and does not get into his blood stream where it needs to be. One affective way to administer CBD oil is to place it on a sugar cube or a horse treat and then feed it to them before their morning and evening feeding. For those horses that allow it, the most therapeutic administration is putting just the oil itself under their tongue where it can be easily absorbed.
In some cases, the results have been dramatic. Horses like mine that could seriously injure someone have calmed down and become trainable. They are not dopey or drugged, just calm. Horses like my partner’s, who have suffered the effects of EPM, have increased their mobility and lessened pain. Other benefits have been increased appetite, lessened anxiety, better pain management and improved gut health, a critical health condition for horses.

Understand that CBD won’t take the place of good training or quality vet care, but it does help and can be a game changer for both you and your horse. For more information about CBD for horses and its results, please visit

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