Horse Cribbing is definitely not a killer horse disease. However, this does not mean that it is any less worrisome. Cribbing is a habit that can be damaging to both your horse and your property. Find out how you can stop this bad horse habit.
What it Is Horse Cribbing
Horse Cribbing is often considered an obsessive compulsive behavior. This is simply because the action is repetitively done by horses. When a horse cribs, it grabs a stationary object by its teeth, bares its teeth and sucks in air. This seems to be more than just an action that the horse has become used to. There seems to be some evidence that horses derive real satisfaction from the act. Cribbing as a repetitive behavior appears to release soothing natural chemicals into the brain.
Causes of Horse Cribbing
There are a number of cases that have been put forth as to the cause of Horse cribbing. While it is possible that the habit may have been picked up from other horses, experts suggest that the habit has more to do with stress and feeding schedules.
There are a variety of stressful situations that a horse may encounter. One of the most common sources of stress however is irregular feeding schedules. A horse with an empty stomach may try to relieve its anxiety by cribbing. Feeding it hay in its stable however may not always be enough. Since horses are by nature grazing animals, they may find it stressful to simply be in a stable for long periods of time. Even if they feel no inclination to feed or to graze, they can do very little in a stable. Horses that have learned to crib may not always stop cribbing when they are let out to pasture. Once the habit is learned, they may carry it wherever they go.
Consequences of Horse Cribbing
Cribbing can destroy your property. That however, is really the least of your worries. If you are a true horse enthusiast, you would be concerned about what cribbing can do to your horse. The most obvious damage that cribbing can inflict would be on your horse’s teeth and mouth. When the teeth are cribbed out of shape and alignment, your horse may be unable to chew its food properly. This may consequently lead to digestive problems that may even include colic.
Solutions to Horse Cribbing
It is often believed that cribbing can be prevented or even stopped in its early stages if a horse is allowed to be on a pasture longer than in a stable. This seems to be a possible solution since wild, feral or semi-feral horses do not seem to show behaviors similar to cribbing. This could be because they have free access to both food and movement.
When cribbing has progressed into an advanced stage, it becomes difficult to stop. Some horse owners use collars that exert pressure in such a way that makes cribbing uncomfortable. Some may use collars with sharp points or electric shocks but this is generally regarded as too cruel.
You may also explore the possibility of medication. Some medicines may block the pleasant sensations brought about by cribbing to help stop the behavior. There are also some harmless but bitter liquid solutions that can be constantly sprayed on cribbing areas to discourage the horse from cribbing. But in the end the real solution lies in early identification and open pasture if at all possible