Navigating the CBD Equine Obstacle Course

Ever since the 2018 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, the availability and popularity of cannabidiol (CBD) products for people and animals has skyrocketed.  Use of CBD for pain, inflammation, and anxiety in horses has become mainstream, and positive results have been widely reported.  But there's still a lot of confusion out there about CBD for horses.  Does it work?  Can I give my competition horse CBD at or before a USEF or FEI show?  What about my horse who's in training, spooks at the same mailbox daily, or is rehabbing after a layup?  What product should I choose?  While additional research is needed, here's what we know.


Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of at least 100 chemical compounds unique to the cannabis sativa or hemp plant.  These compounds are referred to as cannabinoids. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), is the cannabinoid most commonly associated with marijuana.  However, unlike THC, CBD is non psychoactive and has been shown to offer a myriad of wellness benefits without the "high" effect of THC.  Research and experiential evidence shows that CBD may be helpful in promoting calm, addressing muscle tension and soreness, and supporting the circulatory, GI, musculoskeletal, nervous, and immune systems, among other useful applications.  Adding to these benefits, CBD is non habit-forming, and well tolerated, making it a desirable supplement choice.

Cannabinoids are naturally effective in our bodies because, throughout our evolutionary development, we have been hardwired to gain the benefits of the cannabis sativa plant through the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex signaling network that functions as a lock and key mechanism when cannabinoids are present or introduced into the bloodstream.  Cannabinoid receptors exist throughout the body -- nervous, musculoskeletal, digestive, immune, endocrine, circulatory, respiratory, and other systems -- and are the reason why cannabinoids can have such diverse and profound effects.  All mammals, including horses, have an ECS, and the body produces "endo" (internal) cannabinoids that operate to keep the body's systems in balance.  However, when an external force such as injury, illness, or stress is introduced, the body's own endocannabinoids may be depleted, resulting in an interruption to homeostasis that can manifest as anxiety, pain, inflammation, compromised immune function, and more.  CBD and related "phyto" (plant) cannabinoids are natural compounds that can supplement the body's own cannabinoids and lock into cannabinoid receptors to address the imbalance and restore homeostasis.


We all want to know whether CBD is safe or effective, and the research to find out is in its infancy.  Scientific data on CBD use in horses are even scarcer than data on dogs and cats.  However, eagerly anticipated results from an ongoing study at the Texas A&M University system seeks to shed some much needed light.  Researchers at Tarleton State University’s Equine Center in Stephenville, Texas are conducting a unique study to learn more about the effects of CBD in horses, one that has the attention of horse owners around the world.  [1]

“I have just been overwhelmed by the level of interest in this study,” says Kimberly Guay, PhD, assistant professor at the university who is overseeing the research 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,” says Guay.

The Tarleton study seeks to quantify how CBD affects inflammation, stress and stereotypical negative behaviors in horses.  Guay and her student researchers are administering ingestible forms of CBD to the study horses, and measuring the physiologic effects of the non-psychoactive substance on the horses’ heart rates and cortisol levels. They are also observing the horses after dosing 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.  Dr. Guay hopes to have data that will help define and document how CBD can help horses.  Is it actutally helping to minimize stress, inflammation, and stereotypical behaviors?  Horse owners and care providers are eagerly awaiting the Tarleton study results, expected to be published in 2021.

"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." 

In 2019, the U.S. Equestrian Federation, which sets the rules for most of the country’s competitive horse events, announced an explicit ban on CBD for horses in competition noting that "...cannabinoids have gained increased attention and have become nearly mainstream."  The rulemaking body said that a horse testing positive for CBD would violate competition rules because the cannabinoid is “likely to [affect] the performance of a horse due to its reported anxiolytic effects,” referring to the compound’s apparent role in reducing anxiety. [2]  The body that governs international competitions of many equestrian disciplines, the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), also currently disallows use of CBD for horses in FEI competitions. [3]

Fortunately, additional formal research studies on the pharmacokinetics, elimination, safety, and efficacy of CBD in horses as well as documented case studies and clinical evaluations are currently underway and planned at an increasing number of equine research centers and practices.

It is interesting to note that, by contrast, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the body that governs all human Olympic athletes, has removed Cannabidiol (CBD) from its list of prohibited substances provided that such CBD contains no THC or other cannabinoids. "All natural and synthetic cannabinoids are prohibited except for cannabidiol (CBD). . .Cannabidiol (CBD) is no longer prohibited.  Synthetic cannabidiol is not a cannabimimetic; however, cannabidiol extracted from cannabis plants may also contain varying concentrations of THC, which remains a prohibited substance." [4] [5] [6]


Does it work?  Can I give my competition horse CBD at or before a USEF or FEI show?  What about my horse who's in training, spooks at the same mailbox daily, or is rehabbing after a layup?  What product should I choose?

The simple answers:  YES.  NO.  ABSOLUTELY.  TROVE.

Trove CBD for horses contain organically grown USA hemp and are crafted with the same premium ingredients and with the same quality standards as our people products. All Trove products are THC free and triple tested for quality, consistency and concentration. With a range of options and CBD strengths specifically formulated for people, horses, dogs and cats, Trove can help owners and their healthcare/veterinary professionals tailor a regimen that works.

Burgeoning research and experiential evidence suggests that CBD may benefit horses in the following ways:

  • promoting calm addressing inflammation, pain, soreness
  • aiding in exercise/injury/surgery recovery
  • surviving stall rest/rehabbing from layup
  • supporting the neurological, digestive, circulatory, immune, and musculoskeletal systems

For topical application to address targeted areas of pain, swelling, or inflammation, apply Trove CBD Balm 750 to area(s) of concern, gently massaging into skin in order to penetrate beyond the surface hair coat. Your horse will likely enjoy the touch, and the time spent massaging will discourage rubbing or licking, allowing the CBD to start to absorb into affected areas of inflammation. Avoid eyes, and do not apply directly on open wounds or incisions. Apply 2-4 times daily. Trove Equine Balm 750 contains a powerful concentration of 750 mg CBD per 1.7 oz jar and a unique formulation of coconut oil, arnica butter, shea butter, and vitamin E to nurture the skin, as well as organic tea tree essential oil for its added anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial therapeutic properties.

Trove Equine CBD Oil 750 contains 25 mg CBD per 1 mL, and Trove Equine CBD Oil 1500 is a stronger formulation, containing 50 mg CBD per 1 mL. Much like people or dogs, individual horses will respond differently to varying doses of CBD. Therefore, suggested hemp dosages will depend on a variety of factors, including severity of symptoms, whether treating for an acute or chronic condition, and effectiveness of other supportive therapies. Most often, you will be able to assess your horse's response in a very short amount of time, and can choose which Trove Equine product is most advantageous for your horse.

Trove Equine CBD Capsules 150 offer the highest dose of CBD (150 mg CBD per capsule) in a convenient capsule form, and therefore may prove to be helpful especially in acute or complex situations, intermittent/occasional use such as trips to the vet or away from the comfort of your home barn, or where you prefer to start with a high impact approach and then adjust to maintenance on a lower dose of Trove Equine CBD Oil 750 or 1500.  CBD capsules may be added directly to feed, or quickly dissolved in a mash.

You may continue therapy, adjusting dosage or frequency of administration as long as necessary to achieve desired results based upon your assessment (along with your vet) that your horse is benefitting from Trove.  Every horse and every situation is unique.  Some will continue to benefit from a therapeutic daily dosage or occasional use, while others will return to normal work without continued Trove CBD maintenance.

SHOP NOW for Trove Equine CBD products.  Visit www.trovecbd.com for more information or call us at 1-833-GO-TROVE.

 Copyright © 2020 Deborah Carter All rights reserved

[1] https://today.tamu.edu/2020/02/12/hemp-for-horses-tarleton-researcher-investigating-benefits/

[2] https://www.usef.org/media/press-releases/usef-announces-positive-tests-of-cannabinoids

[3]  https://inside.fei.org/fei/cleansport/ad-h/prohibited-list

[4] https://www.wada-ama.org/sites/default/files/prohibited_list_2018_summary_of_modifications_en.pdf

[5] https://www.wada-ama.org/en/content/what-is-prohibited/prohibited-in-competition/cannabinoids

[6] https://www.wada-ama.org/en/questions-answers/cannabinoid