With “Respect the horse. Respect the sport.” being a foundational piece of NRHA’s mission, the National Reining Horse Association tasks itself with monitoring trends in competition, as well as new products presented to owners and riders. From time to time, new products appear on the equine supplement market claiming to enhance a horse’s performance. Over the last several years, cannabinoids have gained increased attention and have become nearly mainstream.
In 2018 Congress passed the Agriculture Improvement Act, also known as the “Farm Bill.” The passage of this bill has created some potential confusion with respect to the use of “hemp” and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in competing horses. The bill defines “hemp” as both the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any derivatives of cannabis with less than 0.3% THC. With the enactment of this bill, “hemp” is no longer considered a controlled substance under federal law, but THC remains a Schedule I drug with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
NRHA Animal Welfare and Medications Rules prohibit cannabidiols (CBD) and their metabolites. While hemp does not contain more than 0.3% THC, it does contain CBD. CBD, both natural and synthetic forms, are likely to affect the performance of a horse due to its reported anxiolytic effects. This substance is no different than legitimate therapeutics that effect mentation and behavior in horses. Horses competing at NRHA events and under NRHA rules who test positive for natural cannabinoids, synthetic cannabinoids, and other cannabimimetics will be considered in violation of the rules.
It is important to note that analytical methods are being implemented to detect CBD and similar cannabinoids. Caution is important when using these products as their composition widely varies and may not be representative of their label claims as there is no regulatory oversight from the FDA, nor guarantee of their safety in horses. It is always best to consult your veterinarian before administering any new substance to your horse.
If you have questions on NRHA Animal Welfare and Medications Rules regarding medications, dosages, withdrawal times, etc., please contact the hotline at 1-800-733-2472.