A few weeks ago, Veterinarious, along with our friend, Medical Hemp and CBD researcher Ian Pedersen, began an ongoing series discussing the role of CBD in managing a variety of conditions with our beloved equine companions.

This week, Ian will be discussing mood, temperament, and anxiety in horses, and how CBD can help.

RELATED: This is Part 2 with Ian. Check out Part 1: CBD and Cushing’s Disease in Horses, right here.

Anxiety in Horses

Today we’re going to be talking a little bit about mood, temperament, and anxiety in horses. I believe this is very, very important. It’s probably the key driving force in your horses’s health and their ability to stay healthy, as it is with all living beings. I think we can all agree on this.

Within the horse community, it’s well-known that, due to many different circumstances, our horses can have a variety of different moods and temperaments, whether those horses are competing, or just during play, or during their day-to-day interactions with us. Some of which are greatly beneficial, but others, not so much. We understand that, in many ways, our horses are just like us, just like humans. They feel different every day, just like we do.

In our experience working with horses in the past few years, we’ve learned some key things. I’d love to share them with you. So we’re going to jump right in and talk about mood and temper and CBD.

Let’s start with anxiety, and CBD for anxiety specifically. Horses can be under a great deal of anxiety, for many different reasons, specifically in competition. But that’s not all. They may be anxious during treatments with a veterinarian, during shoeing or saddling, or during transport. And we know that these can really throw off the mood and temperament of your horse. I believe it’s important that we keep our horses in a good place. Giving them the natural, beneficial support they need to get to those states of peace is so valuable.

And CBD can play a role in achieving that peace and calm.

When we talk about when our horses have anxiety, it’s really about an abundance of endorphins and serotonin release. There are a lot of different things taking place in their brains or their bodies. Now as we know, whenever we’re afraid, we have that fight or flight response. And that’s the same for our horses. Things fight or flight scenarios are happening normally in your horse’s day-to-day life. For example, if they come across someone new, as you know, it can definitely take a little bit of time for your horse to get comfortable. So, we really want to do our best to support our horses in every way.

CBD Cell Support

When it comes to our horses’ anxiety, we can really support them with CBD treatments. By supporting the internal system with photo-rich cannabinoids, what it does is improve cell communication. And we see this typically in neurological disorders. As we’ve found with many different people and animals we’ve worked with, neurological disorders result in an overage of involuntary responses. This can lead to seizures and many different conditions – and we’ll talk about more of those in other segments – but with anxiety especially, when we talk about mood, we’re really talking about anxiety and fear.

By supplying your horses’ endocannabinoid systems with these phyto-rich, beneficial cannabinoids, it gives the horse’s cells the ability, through communication centres like CB1 and CB2 receptors, to send messages in a proper way, rather than in an involuntary and overstated manner. This also regulates some of the signals, with the serotonin and the overage and fight or flight responses.

In our initial research with soldiers and veterans, we noticed that so many had an extremely heightened fight or flight instinct at certain times, and that serotonin levels were enhanced. What we’ve been able to do with these veterans, and many other living beings, is supply their body with a natural, beneficial substance and regulate some of these disparities and involuntary responses that they’re having.

So, if your horse is in that fight or flight position, has anxiety, or is displaying some poor temperament, this same logic applies. If you know that, let’s say, your horse gets moody during transport, pre-transport you can give CBD. Within say 45 minutes to an hour, that CBD starts to become really bioavailable. This will start to calm a lot of those involuntary responses, right at the point of origin, at that neurological level. This is very, very important, because we’re not sedating the horse.

Typically in the veterinary field, you either assign a depressant or a stimulant. Now we understand that, in our field, we don’t work with these specific types of drugs. We work with all natural supplements that trigger these types of positive responses in the body. So the CBD can actually work to trigger a stimulant response. What it’s doing is stimulating the endocannabinoid system to support that cell communication to regulate that overproduction of hormones, calming them.

As we approach anything in life, we need to be in a good state of both mind and body. We don’t want to compete when we’re we’re sick, or when we’re not confident in what we’re doing. We don’t want to take part in high level activity because we can really risk injury. If your immune system is compromised, or if you’re anxious, you’re really second-guessing what you’re doing constantly. And that can really exacerbate any problems. It’s the exact same with our horses.

When we talk about anxiety, it’s really about getting those beneficial cannabinoids that can support the endocannabinoid system. This then relates to the entire central nervous system and essentially helps your horse and calms them through many different issues.

More Severe Anxiety in Horses: The Physical Connection

Next I want to talk a bit more about some of the more severe anxiety and temper issues we can have with our horses. These are ones related to physical conditions. If your horse already has an underlying physical ailment, whether it be arthritis, or Cushing’s disease, or any other medical condition, anxiety can quickly become heightened. And that’s not good for anyone.

When we talk about CBD for those physical conditions, it’s critical to provide support with these beneficial cannabinoids to give the horse’s body the ability to really support itself. This way, if there’s an underlying condition, the anxiety isn’t going to compound the issue. That’s really going to contribute to your horse’s temper, in a positive way, when they’re healthy.

Booting is the perfect example of what I mean. If there are injuries, and we’re booting for example, we’ve seen some of the fastest turnarounds ever with CBD. These have been with horses that had almost full blown lamenitis or were ready to be put out to pasture. Even we were surprised by the results. Really, so many of the experiences we’ve had, both physical and mental, have been such quick turnarounds for these animals.

Another specific example that stands out was a specific case we had with a horse who was separated from her owner. The horse was living with someone new, and what ended up happening was the horse, in response to the emotional transition and upset, was rubbing her hoof over and over on a rock. This created an issue that compromised the life of the horse. With CBD, we were able to significantly calm the horse’s temper and bring down those levels of anxiety. At that point the horse was able to go through the booting process. It was probably about 45 days, which was probably one of the shortest booting instances we’ve seen, from where the horse was about to push through the bottom of her hoof by about a 16th of an inch!

Final Thoughts, and Thanks!

We’ve been working with horses for about 4 years now. Our first experience was with Maggie, and from that we’ve been able to really learn a lot. But we haven’t done it alone. We’ve learned a lot from some of the many amazing doctors and healers in the field. I’d like to send a personal thanks to Julie Anne Lee, and Dr. Judy Morgan, both of whom do such amazing work. I’d like to give a huge hats off to pet advocate Gregori Lukas, who is doing so much to raise awareness for pet parents. Hats off to Billy Hoekman over at Answers Pet Food, you guys are doing so many great things. Dr. Odetter Suter is also doing amazing things in this community. Because of these people, our entire holistic community is better off. Thanks to all of you!