Can CBD Help My Horse?

One Horse's Journey from Euthanasia to Corporate Muse to Baby Bump

What a difference a few years make.  About this time three years ago, Trove co-founders Deborah and Sam Carter were facing euthanasia as the only alternative for their lovely young palomino filly, Star.  You've probably read about "Star's Story" on Trove's website, in veterinary papers, or in the press (such as the article included below penned in 2019 by Heather McWilliams for Colorado Serenity Magazine).

After nearly a half century spanning careers in advertising, consulting, law, and design (peppered throughout with parenting a growing family), Deborah was actually looking forward to the possibility of "real" retirement.  However, the stunning Ms. Star had a different plan.  On her way to a promising performance career, Star started exhibiting a baffling neuromuscular condition, presenting with neuromuscular hyperesthesia/severe hypersensitivity (involuntary and uncontrollable superficial muscle fasciculations), the increasing frequency and severity of which caused this once affectionate girl to become a danger to herself and to her caregivers.  Over eight months of exhausting all available genetic testing, veterinary diagnostics, and unsuccessful treatment options, the veterinarians were out of ideas. Deborah and her vets agreed that, absent a miracle, this beautiful young horse would have to be put down.  But not willing to give up just yet, Star's owners combed the Internet and came across credible stories of cannabidiol or CBD, the non-psychoactive extract of the hemp plant, and its purported effectiveness in treating anxiety, inflammation and pain.  After much investigation revealing positive anecdotes but sorely few hard facts, and with the blessings and hopeful expectancy of Star's treating vets, Deborah and Sam instituted their own trial of oral CBD as a final effort to save Star.  The results were nearly immediate, and Star made a dramatic turn for the better.  This search for answers in resolving Star's devastating neuromuscular condition benched Deborah's retirement and inspired the duo to bring the health and wellness benefits of judiciously crafted, premium CBD products for people and animals to the marketplace with Trove.

Since then, two years of a tapering dose of Trove Equine CBD helped to restore balance and homeostasis of Star's neuromuscular and endocrine systems, and -- after six more months with no supplementation -- Star became a grown up, happy and healthy six-year-old mare.  And, we have more good news to share:  Star, the golden girl who inspired Trove and whose life was literally saved by CBD, is going to be a mama!  In fact, she's over halfway to her due date, full figured, and glowing!  Stay tuned as we update you in the coming months on Star's baby bump.


(reprinted with permission of author Heather McWilliams and Colorado Serenity Magazine)

As with children and other animals, horses cannot “tell” us what is bothering or hurting them.  All we can do is watch and listen to what their body language is telling us.  Through trial and error and sometimes exhaustive medical treatments, alternative therapies and natural remedies, we come to the end of our own resources and knowledge.  We listen to the advice of professionals, experts, others who may have had similar experiences.  We “throw the pharmacy at them” to see if something, anything, will make even a small change or help diagnose what it's not.  But with horses, unpredictable physical behavior is dangerous, often leaving us with only one reasonable option.  This is the story of retired lawyer and local horsewoman Deborah Carter, who would not give up on her beautiful 3-year-old quarter horse filly, Star. 

On August 16, 2017, Deborah Carter picked up Star from three months of training as a cutting prospect.  Star had some retained baby tooth caps that needed to be removed as well as a cough, runny nose and a mild lameness.  After a trip to Littleton Equine Medical Center, a new set of shoes and a couple weeks at home, Star was back in great shape. 

Two weeks later, at morning feeding time, Star started frantically leaping, bucking and twitching in her stall.  After Deborah pulled off the fly sheet, Star started to settle down.  That same day, another horse in the barn was found to have hives.  After discovering and removing a nearby wasp nest, and some frantic Internet research, Deborah suspected that wasp sting venom might be to blame for the behavior and the hives. 

Star had some time to recoup and then resumed her groundwork, lunging and riding.  Her first day with a rider, she started violently spasming, whirling around, leaping and was clearly terrified.  With the rider and tack removed, she continued to spasm and twitch in her stall for hours.  Upon consultation with her vets, and discussion of the possibility of the neurotoxicity of wasp venom, Deborah gave her IV dexamethasone and added Vitamin E and magnesium to her diet.

Over time, and with only turnout and no forced work, Star appeared to be improving.  However, Deborah quickly discovered that even a mere touch at the base of her neck or withers could trigger the hyperactive neuromuscular response. Star understandably was becoming quite suspicious and defensive.  This once trusting and affectionate mare, was not able to control or overcome this condition.

A team of vets led by Dr. Erin Contino of Colorado State University's Equine Orthopaedic Research Center came to Deborah's Silvertip Farms for further evaluation and diagnosis of the cause of Star's puzzling symptoms.  Star exhibited the same behavior Deborah had been observing, even when the veterinarian would merely point in the general direction of her withers or neck without contact.  A brief lameness and neurologic exam was performed, bloodwork, x-rays of Star's cervical spine and withers, all with unremarkable results.  The plan was to commence a course of the nerve pain medication and anticonvulsant, gabapentin, and then a trial of corticosteroids if the gabapentin did not work.  All treatments were completed to no success. 

CSU returned for further evaluation and to test Deborah's latest theory that perhaps pelvic pain was the culprit.  A reproductive exam was conducted with no significant findings other than Star was in heat.  The new plan:  administration of the hormone Regumate, to suppress Star's heat cycles as well as Reserpine, a long acting sedative to see if that might make a difference.

Leaving no stone unturned, Dr. Contino recommended the "complementary" medicine options of chiropractic evaluation and adjustment as well as aquapuncture, where a liquid, typically Vitamin B-12, is injected into acupuncture trigger points in order to gain a longer-term effect.  Through all of the different medications, supplements, hormone treatments, not to mention concoctions of herbal supplements, Star’s condition remained the same. 

Star had become defensive and dangerous in her stall.  Deborah and her vets were thinking that her only option may be to euthanize this stunning young mare, but she continued to search for a way to help her.  "I learned of the experimental use of Botox in treating laminitis in horses, and thought maybe blocking signals from the nerves to the muscles might help, but ultimately agreed with Dr. Contino that Star's fasciculations had become too dispersed to even know where to inject.  And then I discovered CBD."

Deborah came across credible stories of cannabidiol or CBD, the non-psychoactive extract of the cannabis plant, and its effectiveness in treating anxiety, inflammation and pain.  Since the other alternative was euthanasia, the vets were supportive but not familiar with the use of CBD in horses or the appropriate dosages or delivery.  Friends and colleagues had some experience with CBD dog treats for their pups' separation anxiety, but were of little help when it came to CBD for horses.  So Deborah set about to blaze her own trail.

Due to federal regulations, there exists little scientific research in the use and efficacy of CBD.  But reports of experiential results abound.  With increased knowledge and a supply of pure CBD extract from a top Colorado extraction company, Deborah designed a treatment plan for Star.  After literally one day of a fairly high dose of CBD, Star was almost symptom free.  Next day, next dose -- the same.  Over the last year, she has continued to improve on an ever-reducing dosage of CBD.  

After long months of unsuccessful veterinary diagnostics and treatments, Star's response to CBD was shocking, and both Deborah and Dr. Contino became more than intrigued by the benefits of CBD.  Says Dr. Contino, "We exhausted all reasonable traditional veterinary diagnostics and treatment options for Star and then some, even trying some uniquely creative and unconventional ones.  After all but giving up and then seeing the remarkable improvement Star experienced with CBD, I have become a true believer in the promise of CBD to help many of our horses."

Not long after Star's dramatic turn for the better, Deborah and her enterprising son, Sam, began their own trials of CBD in horses, dogs, cats, and people, and undertaking that led them, with consultation from Ph.D. chemists, lawyers, financial advisors, and others to launch Trove LLC, their own CBD company with the highest quality CBD products for people and animals ( 

Amazingly, through our evolutionary development, mammals (including humans, horses, dogs and cats) have been hardwired to gain the benefits of the cannabis sativa plant through our endocannabinoid system (ECS).  The ECS is a complex signaling network within the mammalian body that functions as a lock and key mechanism when cannabinoids are introduced into the bloodstream. These receptors are present throughout the body, and are the reason why cannabinoids can have such diverse and profound effects.  With the recent research, development, and experience, CBD has made a name for itself as a natural means of supporting the immune, musculoskeletal, digestive, and nervous systems.  CBD is also non psychoactive, non habit-forming, and well tolerated.

Deborah’s tenacious desire and desperation to save Star lead her down new paths and opened up a treasure trove of a new kind of therapy.  Star continues to improve and Deborah hopes that she can eventually return to her saddle work.  But if not, Star is beautiful, happy, pain-free and alive.  Check out for more information on CBD and the full line of Trove products for people, horses, dogs and cats.

                                                                                Heather McWilliams © 2019


There's 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?  The simple answers:  YES.  NO.  ABSOLUTELY.  TROVE.

Trove CBD products 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 horses, dogs and cats, Trove can help owners and their 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, 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 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 can 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.

Copyright © 2021 Deborah Carter All rights reserved

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