What is Horse Cribbing and How can I get my Horse to STOP?
WHAT IS CRIBBING?
Do you know that CRIBBING is not only rough on barns and
fences, but it also may be detrimental to a horse's health?
The horse wears down his teeth and swallows air, which can
lead to inappropriate digestion and colic. Cribbing can lead
to serious health problems, such as poor digestion, colic,
and various dental problems.
Cribbing is an obsessive-compulsive behavior when a horse
chews on wood and swallows air. The cribber uses its upper
teeth to grab a stationary object, such as a fence board,
and then arches its neck, pulls backwards while swallowing
air and grunting. Other horses crib by resting their incisors
on an object without grasping it; still others rest their
chin on an object and swallow air.
WHY DO HORSES CRIB?
It's not known what causes cribbing in horses.
There appears to be an inherited susceptibility to STRESS
in horses, so genetics are part of the answer. When a horse
cribs, it is believed that his body releases endorphins, which
stimulate the pleasure center of his brain as why it is such
an addictive habit, and such a hard one to break. This may
explain why horses crib when under stress, as well. A horse's
INABILITY TO GRAZE can be a significant stress that is commonly
thought to lead to repetitive cribbing behavior.
IMPROPER DIET AND FEEDING PRACTICES are commonly cited as
factors that may lead to cribbing. Improper diet and feeding
is also thought to contribute to cribbing, perhaps because
it may cause a horse more stress. Another popular theory is
that cribbing is due to BOREDOM, AND LACK OF EXERCISE. Horses
kept stalled are more likely to become Cribbers than horses
that are allowed to roam in a pasture. Semi-wild horses or
horses in the wild or in the pasture naturally spend 90% of
their time grazing and are less likely to crib.
Every horse handles stress differently, some better than
others. It appears that susceptibility to stress in horses
is INHERITED, so genetics may play a part also.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR A CRIBBER?
Food - Horses need to eat throughout the day and keep their
minds active lest they become bored and stressed, since boredom
is the most common reason why a horse will pick up the cribbing
Cribbing Straps - Crib straps aren't perfect but they do
succeed in suppressing many cribbers, so it's an inexpensive
option that's worth a try.
Electro-Shock Collars - These collars are worn around the
upper neck just like a crib strap; the strap emits an electric
shock to shock the horse each time he takes hold of a fence
Electric Fencing - Stringing electric fencing along the
top of any paddock and/or pasture fences is an effective way
to stop them from cribbing on fences. Electric fencing is
highly encouraged since it will effectively stop cribbing
in its tracks on the protected locations.
Chew Stop And Related Products - Some Non-Toxic Products
are now available in the market. These can be sprayed or painted
on popular cribbing areas to lend a very unappetizing taste
and smell, thereby discouraging a cribber from taking hold
of the area. These products are typically recognized as the
most humane and cost effective methods to stop your horse
Surgical Procedure - This procedure entails cutting some
of the muscles and nerves in the ventral neck region as well
as the removal of some muscle tissue.
Anti-depressant - It is an injected to the animal, which
prohibits the creation of endorphins, thereby suppressing
the natural high a horse gains when he cribs. This is not
a practical solution since the effects are short-lived, but
further research is being done on similar drugs that may have
a longer lasting effect.
MORE TIPS AND PREVENTIVE MEASURES
Once a horse starts cribbing it is difficult to get them
to stop. The best thing is to try to distract and prevent
it from occurring in the first place. One of the most common
aids in breaking your horse from the cribbing habit are: -Allow
your horse as much pasture time, in as big a pasture as possible
-Spend time training and handling the horse to help prevent
boredom. -Provide your horse with a companion, preferably
another horse, but goats also often make good companions for
horses. -Distract your horse with multiple feedings; pasture
time and toys before the habit becomes ingrained. -Allow your
horse access to fresh grass, or grass hay at all times.
To date we know of no proof or studies that indicate a horse
learns to crib from being around a cribber, and it is likely
that several factors come in to play to cause this disorder.
Finally, if your horse suddenly picks up cribbing and doesn't
seem to have developed it from one of the normal causes, it
would be a good idea to ask your veterinarian to check your
horse and make sure there isn't a medical cause for the cribbing.
For more helpful information on cribbing please visit www.horse-cribbing.com
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