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anxious horse with the words 5 ways to help a horse with anxiety

5 Ways to Help a Horse With Anxiety

Any experienced horseman or woman has encountered an anxious horse before. In fact, at one time or another, all horses show small signs of anxiety or spookiness. It is literally in their nature.

When you think about horses in the overall context of the animal kingdom, horses fall into the category of a “prey” animal. In the wild, they are hunted by predators, which makes them prone to startling – it was necessary for survival (not so necessary, or helpful, as domesticated animals!)

However, truly problematic anxiety is so much more than the occasional startle or spook. It is something that affects your horse’s quality of life (and likely yours as well to some extent!)

Symptoms of Anxiety in Horses

So what does true, debilitating stress and anxiety look like in horses? Some symptoms are:

  • Vices like weaving, rocking or walking in their stall, cribbing, chewing, kicking their stall, and generally being destructive.
  • Shaking and trembling
  • Rolling their eyes up into their head
  • Bad behavior like rearing, bucking, or pawing continuously
  • Spooking or bolting

Unchecked stress and anxiety can lead to injury, equine ulcers, colic, digestive issues, low weight, and more.

Identify the Source

Horses can be anxious for all sorts of reasons. Some common forms of anxiety are separation, performance, and situational. Understanding the source of your horse’s anxiety can help you develop a course of treatment.

So, without further ado, here are five ways you can help your horse with anxiety.

1. Start Small, Go Slow

For situational and performance anxiety, patient training may be the fix. Most horses are uncomfortable to some degree in unfamiliar situations. Anxiety is increased when they don’t know, or don’t understand what is expected of them. In both cases, additional training is the answer.

2. Consider Their Diet

According to TheHorse.com, “Sugar in a carbohydrate-rich diet can also play a role in anxious equine behavior.” We know that carbohydrates are a fast-burning fuel. An abundance of carbohydrate in the absence of enough exercise can lead to pent up energy and anxiety.

There is some evidence that a higher fat, low-sugar diet can help some horses to cease their anxious behaviors. Before making any changes to your horses diet, you should consult your veterinarian.

3. Try a CBD Supplement

CBD (or Cannabidiol) is one of over 100 naturally occurring phytocannabinoids (chemical compounds) that have been identified in cannabis. CBD is the most common cannabinoid and is found in all varieties of the cannabis plant.

CBD is a known anti-inflammatory, anti-analgesic (pain reducer), and an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety). For this reason, it is an effective anxiety reducer in all mammals.

If you want to know more specifically about the endocannabinoid system that all animals have, and how CBD works with it, you can read this article.

Hope Botanicals offers a couple of different CBD supplement options for your horse: CBD horse pellets, a tincture, and treats.

READ: The Utimate Guide to Using CBD for Horses

Shop for CBD products for horses4. More Exercise

If your horse spends a lot of time in a stall, getting more exercise may be the simplest fix. Sometimes boredom or un-channeled energy can look a lot like anxiety. Increasing turnout and regular rides and training sessions could do a world of good. If installing a run off of the stall is an option, this is also an additional way to allow a little more movement into your horse’s life.

Physical exercise is also mental exercise for your horse!

5. Maybe it’s You

This one is a little tongue-in-cheek, but maybe your horse is picking up on your own anxiety or lack of confidence. Horses are amazing at sensing any nervousness or change in mood.

There have been various studies where researchers measured heart rate and observed behavior to measure the influence of a rider on a horse. The research showed that when the heart rate of the rider increased, so did the heart rate of the horse. This demonstrates that human behavior does, in fact, influence the horse.

Here are some links relevant studies:

What other solutions do you have for helping anxious horses?

Picture of an anxious horse

Woman petting a horse's nose

The Ultimate Guide to Using CBD for Horses

Here is everything you need and want to know about using CBD for horses.

If you are reading this, you might be feeling like you have already tried everything to help your horse and you are out of options. We hear this a lot from frustrated horse men and women that are desperate for some relief for their beloved steed.

If you are wondering if CBD is safe to use for your horse or how to use it, you’ve come to the right place!

The Ultimate Guide to Using CBD for Horses

You can use these handy links to skip down to a specific section of this article.

What is CBD?

The initials CBD are short for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is one of over 100 naturally occurring phytocannabinoids (chemical compounds) that have been identified in cannabis. CBD is the most common cannabinoid and is found in all varieties of the cannabis plant.

There are three strains of cannabis: C. sativa, C. indica, and C. ruderalis. While CBD is found in each strain, the CBD that we use for products comes from industrial hemp, a variety of C. sativa. Hemp is naturally high in CBD and very low in THC (the cannabinoid that is responsible for the “high” people experience when using marijuana.)

Another common name for CBD oil is hemp oil. Note that hemp oil and hemp seed oil are two totally different things. Hemp seed oil is what it says, oil extracted from hemp seeds. Hemp seed oil doesn’t actually contain CBD.

Now that you have an overview of what CBD is let’s explore why it could benefit your horse.

A Horse’s Endocannabinoid System

Horses, as well as all mammals, birds, reptiles and fish have an endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) can be described as a body system that is working to always keep our bodies in balance.

The body has many internal processes that are continually either building things up or breaking them down. The ECS monitors these processes to make sure that there is the right balance of building and breaking. When there is too much of one or the other, the ECS works to restore the balance.

The Endocannabinoid System has two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2.

CB1 receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord.)

CB2 receptors are primarily found in the peripheral nervous system like skin, muscles and other organs.

Horses have an endocannabinoid system with two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2.These receptors respond to cannabinoids. Some cannabinoids (like THC) bind directly to these receptors. However, CBD does not. Instead, CBD works indirectly by blocking enzymes that break down one of the body’s important neurotransmitters. In this way, CBD supports the ECS by keeping more of this important neurotransmitter around (anandamide), which makes the endocannabinoid system more active and effective. In essence, it nourishes the ECS.

Although CBD doesn’t bind directly to the CB1 or CB2 receptors, there are many, many other types of receptors in the brain. CBD does directly bond to some of these.

A History of Using CBD for Horses

There are many references to using cannabis for horses found throughout history.

You might be surprised to hear that Cannabis has been used in veterinary medicine for thousands of years! The earliest known references to using CBD for horses are found in Greek writings. The Greeks used cannabis tinctures to treat colic and compresses to treat wounds.

In 1607, Edward Topsell referenced using cannabis for horses that were used for long distance trips in The History of Four Footed Beasts.

Cannabis was also used widely across the United States, in the late 1800s and early 1900s until it was outlawed in 1937. Prior to 1937, veterinarians often prescribed colic medications that contained high amounts of cannabis.

What Conditions Does CBD Treat in Horses

The commonly accepted properties of CBD are that it is an anti-inflammatory, anti-analgesic (pain reducer), and an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety). The truth is that most conditions and illnesses are a response to inflammation or other imbalance in the body, so CBD can be an effective treatment for many, many things.

Our customers have used our CBD products to treat their horses with these conditions:

In many places above, we have linked to reviews from real customers on our Facebook page. Click through to read and see for yourself!

More Success Stories from Our Customers

We have many more success stories that have been sent to us by customers using CBD for their horses. These are some of our favorites.

Mick the horseMick, a 17-year old AQHA performance gelding was diagnosed with degenerative joint disease.

“Mick was diagnosed with degenerative joint disease in his left hind fetlock at the age of 14. He also had considerable tendon lesions in the same fetlock. Stall rest with hand walking was prescribed for Mick to help heal the tendon lesions. This was not an easy task as the lesions were not healing at any speed and stall rest was not going well for Mick, even with veterinary prescribed meds to keep him quiet. I got desperate for options to keep him quiet and that’s when I discovered CBD. Administering CBD twice a day kept him very quiet and we were able to hand walk him without issues. The benefit that I didn’t realize would happen is that the joint started to get smaller as the inflammation went down.

I elected to have surgery done for the degenerative joint disease as Mick had some fragments in his joint. It was not recommended by the vet that I do the surgery as the professional opinion was that Mick was never going to be sound. I felt like I needed to do the surgery in order to make him comfortable, even if he spent the rest of his life being turned out.

Two years later Mick is sound. He’s been being ridden about four days a week. Mick has been on a consistent dose of CBD every day for two years. Not only did the CBD help him with stall rest, but it has helped his joint heal. I think the outcome for this horse would have been much different if I would have not had CBD as an option.”

 

 

 

 

 

Ace the horseAce is a 32-year old Quarter Horse with cushings.

“Ace is on pergolide for cushings. At the full dose, he was so lethargic- just stood with his head hung down, no appetite, no interest in anything….very much like people on chemotherapy. I was really struggling with the “quality of life” issue. On the full dose of pergolide, with your recommended dosage of CBD pellets, he is loving life again. I’m riding him again and he has been a handful! My vet is impressed and delighted with the new results….if our last ride is any indication, he is also not bothered by arthritis! I have also used the pellets for a 33 yr old TB horse with a bad heart and bute toxicity-in a serious emergency, with stunning results.”

You can follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see many more incredible testimonials from our friends and customers!

What Kind of CBD is Best for Horses?

When you hear people talk about CBD products, you may have heard terms like “CBD isolate,” “broad spectrum CBD,” or “full spectrum CBD.” This can make shopping for CBD products for your horse a little overwhelming, but to get the best possible results you should be looking for products that include the words “full spectrum.”

Full-spectrum CBD

The hemp used to make CBD products is full of beneficial elements such as flavonoids, terpenes, essential oils and additional cannabinoids (less than 0.3% of THC which is the legally allowable limit). When you purchase a full-spectrum CBD product, you are getting the full benefit of these things.

Broad-spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD is the same as above, but has had all traces of THC removed.

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate means that just the cannabidiol has been isolated out of the hemp. It contains no additional flavonoids, terpenes or essential oils.

The “Entourage Effect”

When CBD first burst out on the market, the popular belief was the CBD isolate was best. However, we have learned that these compounds (cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, essential oils, phytonutrients, etc.) work together in a unique way, complementing each other to be more effective.

For this reason, we encourage the use of full-spectrum CBD products for horses. All Hope Botanicals CBD products for horses are full-spectrum.

CBD Products for Horses

We offer four products for horses: CBD Pellets (can also be used for livestock!), a tincture, a topical liniment gel, and Happy Horse Bites CBD treats.

Full-Spectrum CBD Pellets for Horses (and livestock)

Our CBD Pellets are truly unique! Each tablespoon of pellets contains at least 100mg of CBD. The pellets are made from post-extraction hemp meal. Ranging from $0.012-0.015 per mg of CBD, the pellets are an incredible value!

The flavor is highly palatable to picky eaters! They are available in a 1.5lb (62 scoops) and a 4.5lb (186 scoops) size. The 1.5lb bucket is approximately a one-month supply. The 4.5lb back is approximately a three-month supply.

Full-Spectrum CBD Tincture for Horses

Peppermint flavored CBD tincture for horsesOur CBD Tincture has been fortified with hemp seed oil, peppermint oil, and stevia. It comes in two sizes: 1oz bottle (750mg of CBD, approximately 30 servings of 25mg each) and a 2oz bottle (1500mg of CBD, approximately 60 servings of 25mg each).

The bottle has a syringe port and comes with a syringe for simple and accurate dosing! Place the tincture in the lower lip of your horse, using the provided syringe. This allows for the best absorption.

CBD Liniment Gel

CBD Liniment Gel for horsesOur CBD Liniment Gel is for topical use to treat pain, swelling, inflammation, arthritis and recovery for overexertion. It can be used under wraps, pads, and magnetic therapy. This product contains a full-spectrum oil with multiple cannabinoids that has been nanoized to create smaller particles that absorb better. Bonus: it is safe for humans to use too (and we have!)

Happy Horse Bites

Happy Horse CBD Bites with 50mg of B1Happy Horse Bites are a great source of phytonutrients, chlorophyll, cannabinoids, terpenes, B1 and healthy fats. B1 is known for its calming properties and has also been shown to support gastric health. Each bite has 50mg of CBD in it, and 50mg of B1.

How Much CBD Should You Give Your Horse?

Our recommended dosing and delivery is the most concise in the equine market. The minimum dosing for a horse is 25 mg per day, but typical doses range from 50-200mg per day. The dose depends on the issue you are treating, as well as factors individual to each horse.

Pellets and Happy Horse Bites can be included in regular feed. Tinctures need to be given by mouth, in the lower lip for maximum absorption. The CBD liniment gel is for topical use only.

For specific information about these products, see the section above.

If you have specific questions about dosing, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We are always happy to help.

Implications for Competition Horses

As of September 1, 2019, the USEF added cannabinoids to their list of prohibited performance enhancing substances. Our hope is that this will be removed in the future, as more positive research about CBD, a natural substance, is published.

If you have concerns about using CBD on a horse that you use in any kind of competition, we advise that you reach out specifically to your organization.

Keeping Your Horse Safe on CBD

CBD is not regulated by the FDA. This can make it difficult for consumers to be confident that they are getting a high quality product. Because CBD is not currently regulated, do not trust what is on the label without asking more questions. Here are some things to consider:

  • THC – the bottle may say no THC, but a reputable supplier can back this up with 3rd party testing.
  • Source of CBD – look for organically grown, U.S.-grown sources of hemp.
  • Concentration – many products won’t tell you exactly how much CBD is contained in their product. Again, this is something that can be verified with 3rd party testing.

Ask for labs (test results) so you can be confident in what you are purchasing and giving to your beloved equine!

Side Effects of CBD

One of the best things about CBD is that there are little to no side effects! Possible side effects may include dry mouth, low blood pressure, light headedness, and drowsiness. The possibility for toxicity or overdose is virtually impossible, making CBD extremely safe.

Disclaimer

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

All content found on the Hope Botanicals website were created for informational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

What other questions do you have about using CBD for horses? Ask them below and we will get them answered!

illustration of a horse with callouts about the endocannabinoid system

Help for Lollipop, a blind mare

From Lisa, owner of the mare, Lollipop:

“We’ve spoken about my blind mare Lollipop and how the transition to her new home (with her companion) was a real challenge. I really wasn’t sure what to do and at that point I called you.

I want to give you an update about her. The CBD saved her life! After watching her suffer for 5 very long weeks and walk miles of circles in her paddock, she has finally stopped.

Thursday was her best day ever – no circle walking after 6 a.m. For the first 6 days of treatment, there was some intermittent, but brief circling. I have a security camera on her, so I have been able to closely monitor her progress. It is like the switch that got flipped on during our move, has finally been turned off. I cannot express the relief this has given me. All day Thursday after breakfast, no walking, same yesterday, and again this morning, no walking. Also, during those first 5 weeks, she was walking so much that she was laying down a lot. She was physically exhausted – poor girl. She is laying down less frequently now and already appears to be filling out a bit. She had dropped quite a bit of weight.

For the record:

I started her on 28g twice daily (560mg CBD/day) combined with 500mg B1 crumbles twice daily (1000mg/day). I saw absolutely no adverse side effects. She was alert, engaging, eating and drinking normally. I didn’t really intend on starting with this high of a dose, but since this where I accidentally started, I decided to just stick with it – glad I did.

Friday I began dropping her CBD intake. She received 520mg CBD for the day. I think I will drop her dosage every 3rd day as long as her mental state remains stable.

I must admit that the CBD therapy was a “hail Mary” throw in my book. I had exhausted all my other options. This was going to be my last attempt to avoid euthanasia and I came in skeptical -Having never used CBD for medicinal purposes. Well, I am a confirmed believer! This stuff works!

My goal is to get her down to 200mg/day as I think I will continue to use this product for maintenance. She is 26 and I know our time together is limited. All I ever wanted was to give her a few more comfortable years of retirement in our new home together. It seems we are on the right path to achieve that dream.

Thank you for everything!”

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