On Tuesday, my new adopted OTTB filly arrived. Love her. She's 4, almost 5. She had 27 starts in Canada, and her last race it was obvious she didn't want to do it anymore, so she retired and I adopted her. She vetted completely sound and healthy. Had her scoped and nothing is happening in her tummy (yet anyway)
So Tuesday she comes home, and after we walked for awhile and she had a mash and some hay... she grabs the wall. She's not sucking back, but she bites the wall and just stands like that... like she wants to crib, but doesn't quite know the next step. She doesn't chew on the wood, just open mouth on the edge of the board. She doesn't need a float, but she does have her 5 year old molars coming in, so maybe it's just a teething thing?
I'm hoping that if she is having the urge to crib, I can stop this before it becomes the real deal and I'm looking for suggestions. She was turned out yesterday with a quiet buddy, and she was perfectly happy to eat grass all day. She will be turned out for at least 12 hours a day, depending on her tolerance level, and there is nothing for her to grab when she's out. (we have electric). I'm hopeful that just this change in routine will halt whatever urge she has, but want to hear some other suggestions/success stories.
Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.
Boy, isn't this a loaded question, since part of the answer is "why do horses crib?" ("Why do horses crib, so I can short-circuit whatever is going on in her to make her want to?")
If she tries to crib off of a strand of tape electric she will probably not do that again.
I am generally not worried by a younger horse wanting to put its mouth on things. I do see how you would be concerned by her getting herself into cribbing position and then maybe discovering a neat trick she could do, but if every young horse who put its mouth on something discovered that neat trick and then got enough out of it to do it again, I think every horse in the world given access to an appropriate surface would crib! This doesn't sound like a precursor to cribbing to me. It sounds like a young horse in a new place exploring her new environment with her mouth.
Personally, I would keep hay in front of this mare 24/7 unless otherwise indicated by her girth size so she has better things to do with her mouth than stick it on wood, and then keep on with everything else you are doing in the realm of good management to keep her happy- turnout, etc.
My older, but mouthy, horse has done this plenty of times. For the past 6 years or so he was turned out with cribbers. He put his own mouth around the wood like they did, and just stood there. Then he went to go eat grass.
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My OTTB cribber just moved to about 15 hours a day of pasture turnout and his cribbing has dropped significantly. He doesn't crib outside at all, and only a little in his stall at night. I got him a nibble net for the night which really helps. He hasn't worn his collar in weeks and I think I am going to leave it off. I agree with the others that giving her ample turnout is key. Give the small hole hay net a try too to mimic grazing inside.
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I would do whatever you can do to keep her as happy as possible with lots of turnout, etc. I would also do whatever you can to remove all attactive cribbing surfaces from her stall.
I got my horse as a three year old off the track. He did not crib. He did not crib from ages 3-6, even while he was on stall rest for 9 months as a four year old.
Then I moved him to a barn he HATED at age 6 for about eight months. He was miserable, and began cribbing on his corner feeder VERY voraciously. It was terrible.
Then I moved him to a barn he loves. While he does not have a corner feeder, there are some other surfaces he could crib on if he wanted to. But he doesn't (knock on wood!). Now, the only time he ever cribs is actually on the cross ties sometimes. He will turn his head, grab a cross tie, and crib on it. This is pretty rare, and easily solved by not putting him in cross ties.
Do whatever you can to figure out a management scenario that this mare likes. I think that is the only solution.
I bet that she DOES crib and has been wearing a collar like the Barclay collar--because that is EXACTLY how my cribber behaved once I got her home. I found out later that the trainer used the Barclay collar. It's really very effective for a lot of horses and enough of a deterrent that it doesn't even need to be worn all the time. I picked one up used on eBay and she'll do the same thing--put her teeth on a cribbable surface and not pull back--if I put her in a situation where she wants to crib while wearing the collar.
But for the most part, we control her cribbing by keeping her out on acreage and keeping hay in front of her. I very rarely see her crib at all with this set up. She only wears a collar when I bring her into the barn for any length of time.
Thanks for all the input. She has not started cribbing yet, just puts her mouth all over the wall. She didn't do it at all last night, and she didn't do it once while I was there today, so I'm hoping now that she has turnout and plenty of hay, she will choose those things instead. It really could be just her exploring, she has had her mouth on everything. Brushes, my coat, water buckets, etc. It was just worrying me that she would just stand there, mouth open. It very well could be me being overprotective. She hadn't even been home 24 hours yet, and maybe that was just how she was dealing with her anxiety.
She is on an ulcer preventative, but as I said above, she was scoped last week when I had her vetted and is in the clear as of now. She was much more settled today, so maybe it was just a way for her to calm herself being in a new place. She's out for 12 hours a day, and has a giant hay bag in front of her when she's in.
Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.
I've raised my mare from birth. She started cribbing between 2 and 3. It started exactly how you describe your horse-- pulling and bracing her neck like a cribber without actually sucking air. She lived out 24/7 with friends, free choice grass/hay, a low-starch ration balancer to eat, not a care in the world, and nary another cribber in sight. She wasn't even broke to ride yet. I had her scoped her for ulcers immediately and we saw the text-book prettiest, ulcer-free stomach I've ever seen all in the years I worked as a vet tech.
I slapped a miracle collar on her ASAP, but to no avail. She's a full blown, confirmed cribber today, albeit a mild one.
I often wonder if I had electrified the fence immediately, if it would have halted the development. I boarded at the time and the pasture was about 10 acres-- I didn't feel right asking the BOs to install hotwire just for me. I think it would have been for naught, anyway. Someday, she probably would have found something to crib on.
Best of luck, I hope you find something that stops her! Cribbing isn't the end of the world, but a vice is still a vice.
Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO
Barclay collar. Seriously. It works incredibly well, at least for horses that are cribbing in the typical manner. Do NOT order through the website, though--they're based in Australia and ship without tracking--either buy on eBay or email them for their US distributor.
I had all of my horses in the barn today for the farrier and Dove thought cribbing on the stall door would be nifty. I put the collar on her, she tried once more, and then stopped completely.
My 12yo does something similar, in that he will grab a post or rail in his teeth and even arch his neck as though he is going to crib but doesn't. He usually only does it when tied up or impatient to go out. At 12 I'm guessing if he doesn't crib now then he's not about to start so I just ignore it.