What’s so good about it?
So, what’s all the hype about feeding hemp to horses? Well, how would you like to give your horse a superfood that can ease joint pain and inflammation, support cardiovascular health, improve the condition of his skin, coat, hooves, and tail, and act as a digestive aid? You don’t have to look any further than hemp.
Hemp oil is a very rich source of essential fatty acids and is recognized as the most balanced vegetable oil in the marketplace today. Both Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Udo Erasmus are fans of hemp seed oil.
Hemp contains Omega 3 in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, Omega 6 in the form of linolenic acid and gamma-linoleic acid, and Omega 9 in the form of oleic acid. Its fatty acid profile is closer to fish oil than any other vegetable oil; in fact, it provides a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to fish oil. It is also a valuable source of gluten-free protein, is high in vitamin C, vitamin E, and chlorophyll, and has an excellent amino acid profile. Unlike soy and other legumes, hemp does not contain trypsin inhibitors and oligosaccharides, the gas-producing substances found in many legumes. It is never genetically modified.
I incorporate hemp oil, seeds, and flour into my animals’ daily nutrition program, and they love the taste.
In 1606, French botanist Louis Hebert planted the very first hemp crop in North America. Hemp was cultivated for its fiber well into the 20th century, and many immigrants from Eastern Europe brought hemp seeds to their new homes, planting them for their oil and using them in a variety of baked dishes.
Botanically, hemp is classified as Cannabis sativa L. (Cannabaceae). Cannabis is a diverse plant species, with over 500 different varieties, of which marijuana is a distant cousin. Botanically, hemp is classified as Cannabis sativa L. (Cannabaceae). Cannabis is a diverse plant species, with over 500 different varieties, of which marijuana is a distant cousin. Regulations dictate that hemp be defined as having less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. This very low level makes hemp unsuitable for drug and therapeutic purposes. In any case, THC is actually produced by the plant’s epidermal glands, not in the hemp seed.
Despite this, it was 1994 before Health Canada began issuing hemp research licenses again. In March 1998, it began to allow the production of hemp under a special licensing system. Finally, in 2004, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration determined that hemp seeds could be “used” as a healthy food alternative, but the seeds themselves had to be imported from Canada’s prairie provinces.
When it comes to hemp production, Manitoba’s Harvest Hemp Foods and Oils (www.manitobaharvest.com) has led the way both in Canada and the United States, with products like hemp seed oil, shelled hemp seed butter, hemp protein powder, and even “hemp milk,” the very first line of organic hemp milk products in North America.