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Ask the Vet, Sallie S. Hyman VMD, DACVIM: Cribbing. How Do I Make it Stop?
What Is It and How Do I Make Him Stop?
"Does he crib?" It's as common as asking what color a horse is when you are looking to purchase one. Most people try to avoid bringing a new cribber into their barns. Those who own a horse that cribs are usually frustrated at the the habit and are trying to stop it.
What exactly is cribbing?
So why do horses crib?
- Excessive energy
- Nutritional deficiencies
Is cribbing unhealthy?
Studies show that there is also a higher association with colic in horses that crib. No certain type or severity of colic, but just an increased risk. It was once thought that cribbers got more gas colic, but studies have not found that to be true.
Some horses can become so addicted to the rush of cribbing that they will forsake eating for it. This can result in a weight loss, malnutrition, and poor performance.
So how do I prevent cribbing?
Changing your horses diet can be helpful. It is recommended to decrease or eliminate grain from a a cribber's diet. Providing roughage throughout the day is important. Eliminating grain is hard for those horses who are underweight, but it may relieve the behavior. Researchers in the United Kingdom are working with special diets for cribbers that contain antacids, meant to reduce cribbing in established cribbers.
Another way to reduce cribbing is to make the surfaces your horse cribs on less desirable. Cover tops of door with rounded metal edges or paint boards and doors with anti-chew spray or cayenne pepper.
What about cribbing collars ?
Other control methods such as shock collars, acupuncture, and surgery are available. None of these methods have been found to be particularly effective.
Cribbing can never be cured, but with some modifications to your horse's lifestyle, it can be managed.
Information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for evaluation by an equine professional. In particular, all horse owners should seek advice and treatment from a licensed veterinarian for their horses' medical care.
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