Toronto-based company CannaHorse is hoping cannabis is the answer to improving equine health
By Emma Spears - June 28, 2019
CannaHorse, a Toronto-based company “created for horse people, by horse people,” believes cannabis could be the next big thing in the world of equine health.
“With more than 15 million horses in North America and Europe, the equine healthcare market is a growing billion-dollar industry. We recognize the opportunity to bring the power of cannabis and cannabinoids we see working in humans and other animals to life for horses,” Warren Byrne, founder and president of CannaHorse, said in a press release.
Earlier this week, the company announced the “launch of four product lines, created from specific formulations of cannabis to treat common ailments such as pain and inflammation, anxiety/calming, exercise and surgical recovery, and overall wellness.”
Despite the launch, the products won’t be on the shelves anytime soon. Although legislators are campaigning to allow cannabis use for pets, “the law does not allow veterinarians to prescribe pot for pets, even though preliminary research suggests it could be beneficial in treating pain, seizures, anxiety and other disorders — much as it is for humans,” CBC reports.
For now, the company will be focusing on upcoming trials and has retained former University of Guelph professor Dr. Michael Lindner to oversee them. “Our first trials will be to establish safety,” says Byrne, “and then it will be to establish dosage and basic efficacy.”
CannaHorse is in the process of applying for their research licence in Canada, and is eyeing expansions to countries with large populations of horses and a more open approach to veterinary cannabis. “It’s going to be a long process,” says Byrne, who grew up around horses and has a 50-horse stable. “But we’re ready.”
How does one determine a dose of cannabis for a horse?
The need for alternative treatments is what sparked Byrne’s interest in cannabis for horses — as well as his own experience using medical cannabis after a riding accident left him with a broken bone and severe pain.
But how does one formulate a product that is not only potent enough, but financially viable for the producer and the customer? With very few existing studies involving the equine endocannabinoid system, Byrne acknowledges that CannaHorse has a lot of research to do, both on dosing and the most effective methods of delivery. “Horses have a very different gastrointestinal system than humans and even other herbivores,” he explains.
Many of the current drugs used to treat equine injuries — sprains and microfractures, for example, or conditions such as anxiety — can lead to serious side effects such as ulcers or bone density problems. CannaHorse is hoping that cannabis is the answer to replacing some of those drugs and improving equine quality of life.
Although CBD has often been touted as a cure-all for health ailments, Byrne wants to figure out the most effective applications for the drug. “There are a lot of things we think it will work for,” Byrne says. “But I’m sure we’re going to find that there are things where it doesn’t have the desired effect for horses or isn’t effective enough to compete against the alternative.”