Horse Cribbing

So my horse is a cribber. If you don’t know what cribbing is here is a quick definition: cribbing is a behavior in a horse where they grasp a solid object such as a fence post with their incisor teeth and arch their neck, contracting their lower neck muscles to relax the larynx, or voice box. Air then rushes into the horse’s esophagus, casing a grunt, before the air heads back up and out of the horse.

Wind sucking is similar to cribbing but is done without the horse grasping an object and is less common, but of course my horse can wind suck too. I’ve had people see my horse wind sucking and say “what’s wrong with your horse”, because they have never seen this behavior before. I would always tell them my horse is cribbing but I never knew exactly what cribbing was, or why a horse does it, so I decided to do a little research.

It seems that little is really known about cribbing, there is simply not many studies on it but here is some information I found. Cribbing may cause a horse to feel happy by releasing endorphins in the horse’s brain. Another study demonstrated that cribbing is a method for a horse to cope with stress. The study involved measuring a hormone produced due to stress in cribbers that were allowed to crib, and ones that weren’t after a physiological stress response was induced. The horses that were allowed to crib showed lower levels of the hormone, which means they were able to relive there stress and be more calm. This study concluded that cribbers should not be prevented from cribbing because it is a coping mechanism.

I  also looked at negative consequences of cribbing, but it turns out that the are none proven. There is a correlation between cribbing and colic, but no proven association between degree of risk or particular types of colic.

I struggle with my horse cribbing, because he will crib instead of eating, which makes it very hard for him to gain weight. My horse is skinny and we would like him to beef up a bit so we put a crib preventing collar on him, but he can still crib with it on.

That’s really all I know so to anyone who owns a cribber or wind sucker, good luck.

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