CBD Oil for Horses - Can it Help?

CBD Oil for Horses - Can it Help?

Cats and Dogs aren’t the only pets benefitting from the powerful healing properties of CBD oil, horses are, too!

While researchers have focused on the intelligence of dogs and cats for many years now, horses have become sidelined. Now interest in equine intellect is growing, and we’re realizing they’re impressively emotional creatures. In fact, they recognize the moods and facial expressions of people and respond accordingly.

For example, they are wary of individuals they’ve previously seen frowning or acting upset. This emotional complexity means they can be susceptible to things like anxiety, depression, and fear. So, if CBD hemp oil helps humans, cats, and dogs with their emotional distress, why can’t it help horses, too?

CBD oil can also help horses on a physical level. A 2006 Humane Society study estimated there were roughly 10,000,000 horses in the United States and over half of those are show or racehorses. These horses work hard and frequently suffer from stress-related complications and injuries which CBD oil can help aid.

CBD oil may be beneficial for a horse’s emotional and physical well-being and can help prevent and relieve common problems like anxiety, pain, inflammation, and digestive issues. It can act as an all-natural alternative to harsh prescription medications that can leave your horse feeling sedated and sluggish. A bonus is that CBD oil has very few side effects!

A common concern for many pet owners is that CBD oil will get their animal “high.” The good news is that it does not! Even though CBD and THC come from the same plant, THC is the psychotropic one—not CBD—so there’s no need to worry!

Is CBD Oil Legal?

Because I mentioned the “H” word, we should go ahead and get this out of the way: CBD oil is legal. Thanks to Obama’s 2014 Farm Bill, all hemp with a 0.3% THC content or under is legal. Make sure your CBD product displays the THC content, and look for companies who provide third-party lab results. Another good idea is to keep up-to-date with your specific state’s laws about CBD. Something may be legal on a federal level but still illegal in your state.

If you’re at all concerned, know that there are CBD companies whose products are 100% THC-free. When it comes to animals, this is your best bet because there’s always the possibility that anything slightly over 0.3% THC could have a negative impact on your horse. THC poisoning is not lethal, but it isn’t a fun experience either.

Why Does CBD Work?

CBD works by activating receptors in your horse’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

The ECS is in all birds, reptiles, and mammals as well as some random invertebrates, like the earthworm. It’s important because it regulates our immune and central nervous systems. If either of these systems gets out of whack, it could affect your body’s homeostasis which is bad for your health.

When you introduce cannabinoids (like CBD), it activates either the CB1 or CB2 receptors. CB1 is in the brain and central nervous system while the CB2 receptors are in the immune, gastrointestinal, and peripheral nervous system.

I know, it’s a bit complicated, but all you need to understand is that CBD oil can help your horse the same way it helps you. And, if you haven’t tried CBD oil yet...why are you waiting?!

How do you make CBD Oil?

CBD is a hemp extract and a cannabinoid - a chemical compound found in Cannabis Sativa. So far, scientists have currently identified 111 different cannabinoids that interact with our ECS receptors (THC is one of them, for example). To extract CBD from cannabis, you need to cultivate the plant in a particular way.

You want to end up with a plant that has very high CBD content and little to no THC, the opposite goal of someone growing marijuana. How do you do this? Simple: keep the male plants away from the female plants, so no pollination occurs. A fertilized plant produces almost no THC, whereas THC levels skyrocket in unfertilized plants.

Once the plant matures, specialists extract the CBD isolate. This isolate is the base for CBD tinctures, edibles, vape oil, and topicals like lotions and ointments.


Girl with Horse

Is CBD Safe for my Horse?

Always check with your vet first before giving your horse CBD oil. Every horse is unique, and while CBD oil is safe, you can never be too cautious when it comes to your horse’s health.

Because CBD is in its infancy, vets and pet owners everywhere are urging scientists to conduct more research to understand CBD better. Cornell recently published positive results of a study focused on CBD and pain in arthritic dogs.

As an owner, the most important and sometimes challenging aspect of giving your horse CBD oil can be figuring out the right dosage. Start out low and work your way up, paying close attention to your horse’s response. It may take a few weeks to see the full effects of the CBD oil, so don’t discontinue if improvements don’t happen overnight.

You may be wondering, “well if CBD is so great, why hasn’t my vet mentioned it yet?” Vets may feel they risk alienating clients who don’t fully understand CBD oil. This lack of understanding is why it’s so important to spread your knowledge of CBD’s benefits and educate others.

What Conditions can CBD Help?

CBD oil can help your horse in lots of ways!

Below are some of the more common conditions horses and their handlers struggle with, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ways CBD can help.

Emotional Distress

Emotional distress could be any form of anxiety, depression, phobias, and even aggression. Past traumatic experiences like abuse as well as biological reasons, like a chemical imbalance, may be to blame. Along with patience and a little TLC, CBD oil can help calm your horse down, so their emotions don’t get the better of them.

As herd animals, horses can get distressed by separation, like when trailering or on stall rest. Additionally, performing in an arena – particularly a closed one – can cause severe “arena anxiety.” Any stressful experience is going to impact your horse’s performance negatively.

A lot of the recent research shows that CBD is effective for alleviating anxiety in humans, so the next logical step is to turn the focus of research on how it can help animals. Even if anecdotal evidence is strong, it is important that we build a large body of scientific evidence in support of CBD we have proof and not just hearsay.


Chronic and acute pain can slow your horse down and have serious long-term consequences. This fact is especially true for competitive horses and could shorten their career. CBD oil works by blocking your horse’s pain receptors so they can put their best hoof forward in the arena.

Pain is a common reason horse owners turn to CBD, often because other treatments haven’t worked or strong prescription painkillers leave their horse sedated and sluggish. Instead, CBD oil has gentle healing power that dulls pain without the negative side effects.

This University of Kentucky study on mice found that CBD reduces joint swelling which is a major cause of arthritic pain. Arthritis in horses is quite common and is one of the biggest causes of lameness. Because there is currently no treatment, options like CBD oil can help manage the pain associated with joint inflammation.


An active horse puts significant strain on their muscles and tendons which can cause inflammation and lead to more serious health issues if not addressed. Common conditions caused by long-term inflammation are arthritis, chronic pain, and heart problems.

Inflammation can sometimes be good and is necessary to an extent because it means the body’s natural immune response is working. For example, after an injury or surgery, inflammation means the body is fighting infection and healing itself. When inflammation turns chronic though, toxins begin attacking the body and can cause severe damage.

As a natural anti-inflammatory, CBD oil can help reduce and prevent inflammation so that it doesn’t become a long-term problem for your horse.

Digestive Health

Gastrointestinal (GI) issues are another typical health problem for horses. Digestive tract inflammation is a side effect of grain-based diets which can lead to the development of bloating, ulcers, nausea, indigestion, and lack of appetite.

Competitive horses suffer the most from GI problems thanks in large part to their demanding lifestyle. Trainers will often opt for hard-to-digest processed feeds to help boost their horse’s energy and performance. Combine a difficult to digest diet with a stressful schedule, and it’s no wonder why digestive health is a big problem in the equine world.

CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can help counteract the negative effects of a processed, all-grain diet while also helping with the added anxiety and stress of competing. Also, many studies show that CBD oil is an effective antiemetic for both humans and animals, which means it helps reduce and prevent nausea.


How do I Give my Horse CBD Oil?

One of the perks of CBD oil is there is no “right way” of taking it. That said, there are some “wrong ways” so always be sure to follow the instructions of the particular product you’re using. These are the three most basic ways to administer CBD to your horse:

  1. Orally
    CBD Oil Tinctures are an easy way to give your horse CBD oil. Use the dropper and apply under the tongue (sublingual); most companies flavor their CBD oils so it won’t leave a bitter taste.
  2. In Horse Feed
    This way is pretty self-explanatory: sprinkle the CBD oil over your horses feed. This method is useful if your horse is a tad bit finicky.
  3. Ointment or Cream
    Use topical CBD oil ointments for skin, coat, or hoof issues.

Dosage varies from horse to horse but, to get a general idea, you can refer to guidelines available online before talking to your vet.

CBD Oil may be just the thing your horse needs!

CBD shows a lot of future promise for both humans and animals. Hemp legalization is a positive first step, and once the FDA evaluates CBD, it will open the door for more in-depth studies. Until then, using CBD oil as a supplemental dietary product for your horse can be beneficial in many different ways.

If your horse suffers from any of the conditions discussed above, give CBD try! As long as you talk to your vet and they give you the green light, there’s no reason not to consider a CBD oil regimen for your horse.