A cribbing horse will lock their front teeth to a surface, usually wood, and swallow air. It’s a nasty vice that can cause health issues and destroy the barn. A severe cribber will latch onto anything they can find. It’s a nasty habit that can’t be cured, but it can be managed by taking appropriate action.
Why do they do it?
There is scientific research that suggests some breeds are more prone to develop this vice than others. Breeds like Thoroughbreds and Quarter horses are at the top of the list. Roughly 10% of cribbers “learn” this behavior from others, while the rest seem to pick it up on their own.
Those that are stressed and highly anxious also tend to develop this habit. Similarly, horses with stomach issues and ulcers are more inclined to be cribbers. They are usually the sensitive, hot-blooded breeds.
How to Manage a Cribbing Horse
1. A natural approach is to get the horse outside more. Give them access to grass or hay at all times.
2. Work with your veterinarian to discuss possible stomach issues.
3. Grazing muzzles and cribbing collars make it impossible or uncomfortable for the horse to crib.
4. There are products you can paint on the surfaces around your barn. Some people swear by hot sauce or soap on fence rails and posts.
5. In a last attempt, there’s a surgery that can be performed to modify the muscles in the neck. It will make it very uncomfortable for the horse to crib.
Cribbing is a bad habit. It’s important to manage this behavior to the best of your ability.