Choosing the right hemp product for your horse

One of the newer trends we’re seeing in holistic animal care is the use of hemp products. Being an informed consumer will help ensure you’re providing the best for your horse.

Everywhere you look lately, you see hemp products on shelves for both human and animal consumption. This plant has been around for eons, but suddenly it’s all the rage. In this article, we’ll provide a basic primer on hemp, the benefits it offers horses — and most importantly, how to choose the best equine hemp products.

An introduction to hemp

As hemp products gain popularity, confusion remains over the differences between hemp, CBD and cannabis. While hemp and marijuana are both cannabis varieties, they couldn’t be more different. Hemp contains negligible amounts of THC – too little to produce a “high”. It also contains CBD – a non-intoxicating compound with medical applications that can be used for optimal health benefits.

The primary difference between hemp oil and CBD oil is where the oil comes from. Hemp oil is produced from the seeds of a hemp plant and only contains trace amounts of THC and CBD. CBD oil, on the other hand, is produced from hemp flowers, leaves and stalks and contains high amounts of CBD. When buying products with hemp oil, look for PCR oil (phytocannabinoid-rich) which will include the full spectrum of healing compounds.

The benefits of using hemp for animals

Hemp products are ideal for horse owners, trainers, large animal veterinarians, farriers — and anyone else working closely with horses who wants to treat animals holistically without the use of harsh pharmaceuticals. Its oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which are well known for their health benefits. Supplementing with these Omegas helps facilitate the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K. Omegas are also known to reduce inflammation, support immune function, help horses with allergies and skin conditions, and increase joint health. Many equine owners are wisely using hemp products as a preventive measure to ward off arthritis.

What conditions can hemp oil help treat?

Hemp oil has been recommended for a variety of conditions and problems including, but not limited to, pain, general equine anxiety, hauling and transporting issues, arthritis and joint discomfort, and behavior problems. It can also be used as a training aid; for grooming and body clipping; for horses that need to be stalled or restricted due to injury; and to ease veterinary appointments.

Veterinarian Dr. Kim Henneman recommends using hemp for competition horses during the off-season to help with pain, anxiety or post-operative healing. “Right now, I have a mare with a foot abscess that is very sore,” she says. “I started her on Healthy Hemp Pet Company Equine CannaDrops. I combine the drops with homeopathics when I want to replace the possibility of using an NSAID like phenylbutazone or Equioxx.”

The performance horses in Dr. Henneman’s practice cover all disciplines, including endurance, racing, eventing, dressing, jumping, and Western/English pleasure, reining, roping, cutting and barrel-racing. A large portion of her companion animal practice involves helping people and their animals through serious chronic illnesses such as arthritis, renal disease, geriatric issues, and cancer – all conditions for which she finds hemp extremely helpful.

What to look for when buying hemp products for equine use

It is important to use a product that contains high quality hemp versus something less expensive and lower in quality. “I find myself really frustrated with products that don’t openly list the amount of CBD,” says Dr. Henneman. “Companies just list hemp oil, which confuses consumers. I don’t want animals that are having health challenges (especially those with compromised immunity, or geriatrics who are frail from illness) to be exposed to hydrocarbons left over from the petroleum distillation procedure. Or to miss out on the full benefits of hemp due to companies using alcohol extraction, which misses a lot of important active compounds.”

It’s critical that equine caregivers do their research when it comes to product quality. With so many products on the market, there’s a huge variety available at tack stores, pet stores and even dispensaries. Many veterinarians aren’t always aware of the differences in quality, so it’s important to ask the right questions (see sidebar at right). Ideally, the company you choose will answer the phone or email you back when you reach out for advice and help.

Once you’ve done your research on the product, take a look at the company as a whole. You want a company that’s not new to the marketplace. While you won’t likely find hemp companies that have been around for many years, you should be able to find one that’s been in business since the Farm Act of 2014. Look for a company that shares consumer testimonials and is 100% transparent with its labeling – specifically the amount of hemp oil each product contains. It’s even better if you can find a company that shares their certificates of analysis.

Take your time and do your research when choosing hemp products for your horse. Doing so will ensure you’re reaping the maximum benefits from this time-honored holistic remedy that’s making such a comeback.