We would like to be able to report that we have results from clinical studies of horses using hemp, but very few veterinarians know about hemp and even fewer would recommend using it as a therapy for arthritis, or insulin resistance, or inflammation, or skin problems, or for hard keepers.
S o until hemp becomes more widely used and its benefits cannot be ignored, it is unlikely that we will see any clinical studies performed. Additionally, while hemp products for human consumption are readily available, there are very few dietary hemp products for animals, and those that are, are relatively new on the market with very few customers. Therefore, in an effort to collect data on how horses with health issues respond to hemp therapy, we first had to find some horses with health issues to use it on.
The makers of Hemp for Horses donated their product to two horse sanctuaries for neglected and abused horses in return for progress reports on the horses using it. We also talked to horse owners who have been able to look past the prejudice against hemp and see its extraordinary benefits when nothing else seemed to help. And while these are anecdotal cases, some involving more than just hemp help, they are very compelling. At Hooved Animal Sanctuary in Chelsea, Vermont, two horses were placed on hemp therapy. The first horse is an off-the-track 6-year-old Thoroughbred mare, Belle, who was lame in the hocks, short-strided, flat- footed in the front and possibly navicular, with a poor appetite and a bad attitude. She was placed on a therapeutic dose of hemp for 2 weeks and then placed on a maintenance dose.
At the time of this writing she had been on hemp for a total of 2 months. Deb Baker, the owner of the sanctuary, reported the following results: the clicking in Belle's hocks is gone and she is showing no lameness in them. She is moving more freely in her front end, which is probably due to a decrease in the soreness. Her general over-all condition has greatly improved - her coat is shiny and she is much more interested in eating. Her attitude has not shown any marked improvement, although she seems to have become more playful and more social. The second horse is a 9-year-old quarter horse gelding called Levi. He was diagnosed with degenerative joint disease, small bone spurs which interfere with the joints, back problems and mild navicular. "Levi was our "Deb Baker says. "His hocks were sore, which caused his back to be sore, which made him shift his weight to his front, which made the navicular worse. On a scale of 1 to 1 0, with 1 0 being extremely sore, Levi was a 7." He was placed on the same regimen as Belle. "Now," Deb says, "he is playing more and rearing, which indicates to me that he is feeling well enough to want to put weight on his hocks. We are now able to ride him at a walk for about 15 minutes, 3 times a week. I would say he is now a 3 on the soreness scale." An added benefit is that both horses seem to require less grain to maintain the same weight. Both are given grass hay free choice, but Levi has gone from 2 large scoops of grain per day down to about a cup. "I am convinced hemp has anti-inflammatory properties. I have not seen this much improvement with glucosamine," says Deb
This author's traditional veterinarian has recommended an increase in her horse's intake of omegas (essential fatty acids) as the single best thing you can do for your horse's overall well-being. The omegas are beneficial in promoting joint health, improving skin, coat, mane and tail condition, and even improving hooves. And even though my veterinarian does not know enough about hemp to endorse it, it stands to reason that if essential fatty acids are important, then hemp is by far one of the richest and most balanced natural sources
(see previous articles).
While the number of horses using hemp is still small, these examples indicate that hemp seems to work consistently well in cases of arthritis, joint pain, and maintaining weight
Another stumbling block in the struggle to educate people to the benefits of hemp is the perception that it is too expensive. However, maintenance doses cost around $50 a month while therapeutic doses, depending on the severity of the case, can run between $60-$80 per month. There are many supplements on the market that run well above this. For the multitude of benefits hemp can provide to your animal, this does not seem out of line.
We hope that this article will ease people's minds who might want to try it, that hemp is not a drug, and that it is a safe, effective and completely natural supplement that should be given serious consideration in maintaining the health of our animals.
- Live and Let Live Farm has served and helped animals and their humans all over New Hampshire and the surrounding New England states including the rescue of Premarins (pregnant mares, foals and stallions) out of Canada and some of America's Mustangs. For more information visit them at www.liveandletlivefarm.org .
- Hooved Animal Sanctuary rehabilitates abused and neglected horses and places them for adoption or at foster homes. For more information visit them at www.hooved.org .
- Joyce Harman, DVM is also a CVC (Certified Veterinary Chiropractor) and CVA (Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist) in addition to completing an advanced homeopathic course for veterinarians. She opened Harmany Equine Clinic in 1994 to provide holistic medicine for animals, specializing in horses. For more information on insulin resistance visit www.harmanyequine.com .
- It should be noted that Cathie Androulidakis' husband and Michelle Herbolsheimer became Hemp for Horses distributors after their positive experiences with hemp.
About the author: Letizia Gasparetti is a freelance writer and owner of a Parelli Level 2 Missouri Foxtrotter, who loves Hemp for Horses.
Hemp for Horses
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Reprinted with permission Natural Horse Magazine
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