What is Cribbing?

In very general terms, cribbing is when a horse grabs onto a fixed object (usually a fence), pulls back, and emits a strange burping groan. Typically they grab with their teeth but some horses will put there chin on the fence and crib from that.

There is a lot of speculation as to what they are actually doing and why they are doing it. Horsepeople can’t agree on whether they are sucking in air or “burping.” They also can’t agree on why horses do it. Are they bored? Are they addicted? Do they have an upset stomach? The one thing horsepeople can agree on in regards to cribbing is that it is annoying and a lot of times down right destructive (my horse pulled down an entire corner of fence one time. David and Kyle were ecstatic).

There is currently no cure for cribbing. Once they start, it’s a lifelong thing. There are however ways to manage it. The most common way is with a cribbing collar or strap. A cribbing collar is a device that goes around the horse’s head and restricts airflow when the horse is in a cribbing position. This is a good option for most casual cribbers.

My horse is like an alcoholic who would drink Drano to get a buzz. I’ve tried several different collars on him. He cribbed through all of them even when they were tight enough to make his face swell like a parade balloon. After he embedded a collar in his own skin I decided to try a different approach.

I was successful in preventing destruction to the wooden fence by using an electric fence. But he still cribbed on fallen trees in his field. Now there are no stumps, and he is starting to break things in his quest for a hit. I have to step up my efforts to control his behavior and try to understand the seemingly irrational need for this release.


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