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Hemp for Horses? Researcher Investigating Benefits
USAgNet - 02/14/2020

Hay may be for horses, but - now more than ever - so is hemp. Using CBD to treat horses with arthritis or anxiety has become mainstream since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp. But does it work?

Researchers at Tarleton State University's Equine Center are looking into that right now in a unique study that has the attention of horse owners around the world. "I have just been overwhelmed by the level of interest in this study," said Dr. Kimberly Guay, who is overseeing the research. "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'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 give 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' heartrate and cortisol levels. They also observe the horses after dosing them with CBD to note its effect on any common obsessive compulsive behaviors common to horses that spend time in a stall or trailer, such as cribbing, which is when a horse bites on a fence or gate.

"We are also tracking how long CBD stays in the horse's system," Guay said. "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."

Horse owners eagerly await the results, which Guay said she expects to publish sometime in 2021.

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