Cribbing — bad habit #2

by horselover2


Many people seem to confuse cribbing and chewing.  These vices are NOT the same.  When a horse cribs, it will bite hold a stationary object (often a stall railing) with its front teeth, pulling back and then rapidly sucking in air.  When a horse is cribbing, they will often make a hacking sound.  This is caused by the air they are sucking into their stomach.  Cribbing can cause health issues such as colic, loss of weight, possible loss of teeth, and oral infections.  Not to mention, the property damage. 

            It is obvious that cribbing is a terrible habit for a horse to start.  Luckily, there is more than one way to stop a horse from cribbing.  Some owners may have to only one of these deterrents while others may have to use two or three.  It all depends on the determination level of the horse.

4 Ways to reduce cribbing 

             The first and most common way to stop a horse from cribbing is to use a cribbing collar.  A cribbing collar is placed right behind the horse’s jaw at the top of the throat.  It applies pressure.  This pressure will not allow the horse to quickly draw in breath.  Hence, the horse cannot crib.

            Another way to stop cribbing is to purchase a cribbing muzzle.  These are designed to allow the horse to eat and drink.  However, the horse cannot actually put its mouth around a stationary object.  If the horse cannot grab hold of the object with its teeth, then they cannot crib. 

            One more cribbing deterrent is an anti-crib coating that can be applied to the areas that the horse usually grabs hold of when cribbing.  This “paint” contains no toxic chemicals and most horses detest the taste.  However, this prevention method usually needs to be used with an additional method.  Reason being, when dealing with a significantly driven or stubborn horse, they will continuously test the site that has been painted.  Often, the “paint” losses its strength over time and the horse will continue the behavior. 

            One more way to stop a cribbing horse is to actually make changes to the item(s) the horse usually grabs on to.  This is often a last resort due to the fact that it takes the most amount of time and will also cost more than the other preventative methods.  When a horse cribs their stationary object of choice is usually the stall railing.  In turn, if the railing is changed in such a way that the horse cannot adequately grab onto it, than the horse will not be able to crib.  If the railing is circular, then the goal is to make the railing larger by adding additional materials.  This way, the horse will not be able to grab onto the railing.  Just remember, do not make the railing square. 

             If the railing is squared off, then the horse will just grab hold of the corners and continue to crib.  If the railing is square to start with, find a safe way to make it round.  Sanding down the edges of a 2” x 6’ will not work.  The horse will still easily be able to grab the railing.  However, securing a section of 4” – 6” PVC to the rail should do the trick.  This makes the railing difficult to grab on to the railing due to the diameter and the smooth edges.

            Even though cribbing can be an obnoxious habit, luckily, it is one of the easiest habits to circumvent.