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Help for this contortionist cribber?

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  • Help for this contortionist cribber?

    My mare has thwarted my best efforts to control her cribbing.

    She can easily get a rear hoof up to her poll and she just digs until the strap turns sideways so that the operative part of the strap becomes ineffective. She has done this repeatedly with a nutcraker and a of couple others (French-type or other simple leather strap types)--which worked as long as they were in place. I have tried various muzzles, but these all have their limitations, too (restrict eating, break/wear out quickly, not really safe for turnout). The Miracle collar did not stop her cribbing (no matter how tight) when put on the conventional way (with one strap in front and one strap behind the ears), but it did work when both straps were behind her ears and she couldn't turn it when put on in this configuration. The problem with this set up was it made her poll really sore (either from the pressure of the strap or her digging at it), which made her very evasive about letting me touch her head/neck, so it was very difficult to get it off.

    Is there some type of collar/device that would work in this situation (determined contortionist)? Would it be worth trying a hood/neck cover over one of the effective collars? Also, is there a such thing as a quick-release cribbing strap that can be removed without having to undo a buckle?

    This mare has been allowed to crib at will for the past few months. She is not a constant cribber, but she leans back hard when she cribs. Her paddock is several acres of board fence and she keeps me busy nailing boards back up. She is out 24/7, has lots of forage, other horses for company, no apparent stress. When I am not bedeviling her with cribbing straps, she is relaxed and sweet-tempered. I talked about ulcers with her vet and may try her on Gastroguard to see if that helps.

    This is a pressing concern now because she may have to move soon and uncontrolled cribbers are welcome nowhere. My options for finding/creating crib-proof environments for her are limited. Thoughts?

  • #2
    What about running a hot wire around the pasture fencing on the inside board so she can not get her teeth on the fencing? Does she have access to hay outside the entire time of turnout?

    As for in her stall, is hay in front of her all the time? A confirmed cribber that knows how to get a collar moved around is almost impossible to stop. Stall toys may help, hanging a lik-it in the front of the stall door may give her something to are in a tough spot, and there may be no other alternatives for you.
    Esmarelda, "Ezzie" 1999 Swedish Warmblood

    "The world is best viewed through the ears of a horse."


    • #3
      Hot wire is your friend! Put it everywhere you can that she might try to crib.

      Have you spoke to your vet abor cribbing surgury? It would be my last option but I wouldnt rule it out for a hardcore cribber. I dont think letting them crib is the best option due to teeth wear and potential for gas colics.


      • #4
        I have read in a magazine recently that the best medicine might be to just 'let them crib', but I am so uneasy with doing that with my own gelding, and have yet to do so. He is not as smart as yours, though.

        I'm sure everyone has heard this to death on this board, but have you thought about ulcers? Some kind of pain? Cracks in her frogs that create heel pain? Flat soles? Intestinal ulcers? My gelding has no apparent stresses too, but that doesn't stop him from creating them. He has always, always cribbed the worst when there was something wrong with him--once, ulcers, and this time, deep sulcus thrush. (It doesn't look or smell like the thrush everyone thinks of!).

        Have you found anything she really doesn't like the taste of? My gelding didn't like cod fish oil, but that can be a hassle if you've got a lot to paint. If she cribs only after she's done her hay, maybe look into a slow feeder hay net?

        Good luck!


        • #5
          hot wire the fencline and or buy plastic poles elecy tape and small engersizer that connects to eith old lorry or car battery and bring the fenc line in as in 3ft away from the boarded fence line that way she cant reach it to crib or wind suck on also having a portable one means you make the area smaller or can section an area
          placing the poles 3mtrs apart with 3 strands of elecy tape


          • #6
            Hot Wire! I have a cribber and the BO let me buy all the supplies and string the hotwire, got a Solar charger, it works. I did have to string it along the tops of the posts, but i managed to do that too.


            • #7
              Hot wire is your friend!!! My hardcore cribber is SOOOOO much happier now that he does not have to wear any sort of tight neck straps on all the time. His pasture is all electrobraid fencing with just wooden posts every ten or so feet. The top strand is hot and he lives out 24/7, so he is crib free, haha! Having hay out for him 24/7 is also an awesome deterrent.


              • #8
                Have you considered surgery? I've never had to resort to it but several acquaintances have done this with their chronic cribbers with a high degree of success. It is my understanding that it isn't always a guarantee that it will stop them but if it were me, I would explore the option with a truly chronic cribber. Cribbing severely wears teeth over time if allowed to continue.

                I did hotwire a stall years ago for a particular cribber - it was effective but occasionally he would forget and try to crib on the edge of his door. We would always know when he had hit the hot wire because we would be greeted by an utterly destroyed stall where he flipped out after getting his tongue bit by electricity.
                Susan N.

                Don't get confused between my personality & my attitude. My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are.


                • #9
                  We switched to the Dare collar and it has been working very well. Horse managed to flip it over once, we tightened a hole, and it hasn't happened since. Also agree with the other posters, hot wire, if the collars won't work. Good luck.


                  • #10
                    Thank you for your responses to my call for help. I agree that electric fencing is likely the best solution, but I am still holding out hope that there is a way to prevent her from turning a cribbing collar. Most collars work for her as long as they stay in place. Miracle collar (put on the regular way) did not work. I have not tried the Dare collar yet--how is it different from the Miracle collar?

                    Controlling the cribbing is becoming a pressing issue now because the mare may have to move to a boarding situation soon. If the cribbing is controllable with a collar, more doors would be open to us.

                    As far as the root causes of the cribbing are concerned, she has been checked over within the last year by 2 equine vets (in addition to being housed at a vet hospital for several days for an unrelated issue), a chiropractor, and an excellent trainer. Nothing was found that was thought to contribute to the cribbing. Did not scope for ulcers, so that is still a possibility. She lives out all the time, and she always has hay/grass and other horses for company.

                    The cribbing is an ingrained behavior at this point, so I do not think it realistic to stop her from wanting to crib. I am just trying to control it. I have discussed surgical intervention with her vet . . . I would rather just have the cribbing collar surgically attached (joking!).

                    She doesn't crib constantly, but she does crib with gusto. If she were a smoker, she would be one of the people that light up a cigarette, take a deep drag, roll their eyes back, hold it, exhale forcefully enough to be heard across the street, take a couple more hits, then crush it out. Not a chain smoker type at all. But when she needs to crib, she needs it bad.


                    • #11
                      Pig rings, I know many will have a fit at the suggestion but I have seen several with them and it worked for all of them....


                      • #12
                        The Dare collar is one thick strap that goes around the neck with a large block part for throat area. My DD's new horse could crib through the miracle collar, can't with the dare. I haven't even caught him trying with the dare collar. You can google it to see what it looks like. Good luck.


                        • #13
                          I have the DARE and it does work. I'm guessing your mare will be able to swing it around. I wish the strap on top wasn't so wide, it has ruined the top of my horse's mane-he has a 'bridle path' like an Arabian's!

                          I just heard from my vet about a woman who's horse cribbed so badly the lady lined the stall with chicken wire and electrified it! Needless to say, the horse was NOT a TB!! If I did that to my TB he'd never come into the barn again!! Worth a try? Depends on your frame of mind, I guess. Just make VERY sure the edges of the wire are'd be like my guy to poke his eye out on the wire, no matter how smooth I made it......
                          Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


                          • #14
                            A lot of good suggestions here. The ulcer med might be worth a try. Toys work with some horses, but not all.

                            I would eliminate all grain. And vastly increase hay roughage. For a warmblood or TB, hay should be 30+ pounds per day fed in 3-4 feedings, or a round bale. An easy-keeping QH, Arab or others, tested low-sugar hay which is fed liberally is best. Horses have an incessant and inherent chewing drive. They also have a movement drive - which is why if hay is fed in piles on the ground it should many, many little piles spread out between here and Texas. If 3 horses, then 9+ piles. If 10 horses, then 30 piles, that sort of idea. They have an inherent need to take a bite and walk, take a bit and walk. There's less bickering too with many, many piles and low-horse-on-totem-pole always has another pile to work on and it's harder for bullies to be guarding a high number of piles. Problems start when these basic, inherent needs cannot be met. Some are more tolerant of our space restrictions than others. The less tolerant horses become wood chewers and wind-suckers, both of which in North America tend to be called cribbing, but from where I come from, wood chewing or eating wood is called cribbing, and wind-sucking is, well, wind-sucking (where they grab the board with their teeth and swallow air and not necessarily actually eating the wood). Different terminology for different locales.

                            I would add, even though she is out "24/7" as you put it, SIZE OF SPACE and social interaction is a big hairy deal to these horses.

                            If you can board her out in a pasture that is 15-20 acres or even bigger, there is less fencing to get to and more grazing to keep her occupied. A large herd is also nifty for these horses because they have a lot more social interaction and mental/psychological activity, and in a bigger space, they can still have their required personal space boundaries, plus plenty of ad-lib exercise. It's not always possible, however. But even a fairly good sized pasture with several horses inside it with her is better than being outside in a pasture by herself with neighbours on all sides. They need that physical contact.

                            It's important to provide plenty-o'plenty of mentally-stimulating exercise with her human for the production of feel-good endorphins, i.e., not just riding around in endless and boring circles. Training sessions that make the horse think and figure something out, as long as they're always ensured to be successful.

                            Once wind-sucking and wood chewing become a habit, it's nearly impossible to break, much like weaving, or stress-induced or feeding-time-induced head shake/tossing are, and extraordinarily difficult to control/manage, as you have discovered. She's a smart mare who has had time to be bored so that she's figured out how to get the contraptions off. It's the result of management methods that we sometimes have little choice but to impose upon our horses due to space limitations and financial constraints - and we can only do what we can do. If only we could wave a magic wand . . .
                            Last edited by rodawn; Feb. 20, 2011, 05:38 PM.
                            Practice! Patience! Persistence!


                            • #15
                              Why does it matter if she hates the collar if you hotwire the fence? Many boarding places will allow you to string it yourself or even help you. My horse hated his collar, too. With the hotwire, and feeding at ground level, there is nothing for him to crib on and he's happy.