Why do Horses Crib?

Cribbing, sometimes called windsucking is defined by a horse grabbing a solid object ( barn, fence, feeder, etc. ) with its front teeth, arching its neck, pulling against object, and sucking air. Cribbing can be caused by several factors. Environmental stress in the way a horse is housed and cared for can play a role. Certain types of diet ( sweet grain ) can also play a role. The presence of stomach irritation/ulceration can stimulate cribbing. Finally, there is a strong genetic predisposition for cribbing.

Treatment for cribbing

1) One thing to address early with a cribber is the possibility of stomach ulcers. A test course of an oral treatment can be started to see if the cribbing is reduced. Taking the horse to a referral hospital to have its stomach lining evaluated for ulcerations ( gastroscopy ) is another option.

2) Looking at reducing a horses boredom: Ideas include increase the amount of exercise, increasing turnout time, increasing the time it takes to eat by increasing the amount of hay in diet and/or use of a slow feeder

3) Prevention of cribbing activity: Possibilities include the use of a cribbing collar ( Weaver Miracle Collar is an example ). These collars must be monitored as far as fit and position. Be aware that if a collar is removed cribbing will not only begin again but is very likely to be worse. Covering any potential cribbing surface to prevent the horse from grabbing the surface is another idea. Use of active deterent ( hot wire ) to prevent the horse from reaching the surface is a consideration though this can be seen by some as harsh. Finally, there is a surgical procedure for those horses to which other preventives have failed that is about 75% effective.

Given all of the above, careful consideration needs to be made with buying a horse that is a cribber as the habit takes a lot of continued effort to control.

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