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why is cribbing bad?

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  • why is cribbing bad?

    Besides the fact that it is annoying, that is. This is just a question that ive had for a while...

    I know what cribbing is, but are there any sort of problems associated with cribbing?

  • #2
    Some horses will crib rather than eat, and lose weight.

    Some horses will wear their teeth down to nubs cribbing.

    Some horses will use and build their neck muscles cribbing in a way that makes it difficult for them to come over their backs and use their necks in the appropriate way we require when we ride.

    Some horses will DESTROY barns cribbing.

    When I had a cribber, he did not destroy barns, he did not crib rather than eat, he did not build up the "wrong" neck muscles and he did not wear down his teeth. He seemed happier when allowed to crib, so--as he didn't hit any of the above points--we just let him.

    IME, cribbers are often quite clever horses as well.


    • #3
      When they "suck" with the accessory muscles don't they suck air into their stomach (I was told that yrs ago) and that makes them more susceptible to colic? I have no idea if that is true.


      • #4
        When they suck wind, they are more prone to colic.


        • #5
          I think the being more prone to colic is due to ulcers more than cribbing itself. Annoying and destructive is reason enough to avoid it if possible.
          McDowell Racing Stables

          Home Away From Home


          • #6
            Originally posted by Nezzy View Post
            When they suck wind, they are more prone to colic.
            I thought this was proven incorrect quite some time ago--I think it was fairly fresh research when I had my cribber, about 15 years ago.

            Horses do not take air into their stomach when they crib.


            • #7

              Well, that's good to know.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                I thought this was proven incorrect quite some time ago--I think it was fairly fresh research when I had my cribber, about 15 years ago.

                Horses do not take air into their stomach when they crib.
                My friend's cribber must have just been abnormally prone to gas colic for other reasons, then. Can't really say, never met him.

                I had a cribber. Loved her to bits, except for her nasty little habit. Her top front teeth were worn down from it. She'd latch onto anything solid, wood, metal, managed it on a rubber bucket once that I saw. Made my nicotine addiction seem mild by comparison. Miracle collar 'ceased' the behavior. But she'd spend more time cribbing than doing anything else, soon as the collar came off she was looking for something to crib on.

                You can always tell if a barn has had a cribber/chewer. Destructive little habit that.
                Owned by a Paint/TB and an OTTB.
                RIP Scoutin' For Trouble ~ 2011 at 10
                RIP Tasha's Last Tango ~ 2010 at ~23
                RIP In Sha' Allah ~ 2009 too young at 5


                • #9
                  Cribbing is a repetitive motion activity and as such detrimental to good health.

                  Think how long before,say, your right knee would wear out if you continuously were swinging it, all day long, could not stand still without swinging it.

                  A horse that cribs , weaves, walks incessantly, self mutilates or such repetitive motions is doing that to whatever is involved in such obsessive/compulsive type behaviors.

                  Remember, there is no action without reaction/consequences.
                  Think about the consequences of doing the same over and over and over and over ...

                  Even lack of motion, a horse that just stands around all day and won't exercise a minimum will get stiffer and stiffer and out of shape, that would be the other extreme from over the top movements as so many OCD compulsions can be.

                  Best to try for a happy medium.


                  • #10
                    Cribbing to me is the equine equivalent of a crack addict. When they latch on and windsuck, scientists have deterimined they are directly stimulating the pleasure center of the brain--releasing natural opiates. That's why once they start the habit is almost impossible to break.

                    In addition to damaging your facility, a big reason you don't want a cribber in your barn is other horses can pick up the habit from that one, particularly in a stabled situation where boredom is a factor. This is a major concern with young horses.

                    I normally won't take a bad one; but once in awhile someone says "Oh, he only does it a little" and when he gets in here we find out he's a fiend.

                    I don't doubt that they often begin it as a way to "self-medicate" for ulcers or pain elsewhere in the body; but I've had at least 3 here over the years who will happily romance a fence rail rather than eat 40 acres of prime grass pasture.
                    On 24/7 turnout, ulcers are less likely to be a factor. One guy, a WB built like a tank, cribbed so long and hard his front teeth were eventually completely gone!

                    By the way, if anybody knows of a "strap" that works better than the standard ones or the Weaver Miracle Collar, please let me know. I've got one out there who goes right through even that. . . he needs to eat so I can't put him in the muzzle type. What's anyone tried that works?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SwampYankee View Post
                      In addition to damaging your facility, a big reason you don't want a cribber in your barn is other horses can pick up the habit from that one, particularly in a stabled situation where boredom is a factor. This is a major concern with young horses.
                      I believe there have been MULTIPLE studies that have proven this one false.

                      Cribbing does seem to have a high genetic component, though. If the sire or dam cribs, the foal is more likely to crib, even if it NEVER sees another horse cribbing.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SwampYankee View Post

                        In addition to damaging your facility, a big reason you don't want a cribber in your barn is other horses can pick up the habit from that one, particularly in a stabled situation where boredom is a factor. This is a major concern with young horses.
                        I've heard this as well, but assuming it is an exception to the rule? My horse was turned out with (just them two in their paddock) and stabled across from a cribber for about 2 years, and never once tried, attempted to or thought about (LOL) picking up the habit. She's not a young horse so maybe that is a factor...


                        • #13

                          I use this on my cribber. He doesn't seem to crib thru it either.
                          http://www.valleyvet.com/ct_detail.h...cribbing strap


                          • #14
                            The problem I see a lot with a lot of crib straps is for them to work properly you almost have to tighten them til you feel like it's abusive, and go one more hole.

                            Whin would drop her head (which in turn made the strap looser, and she knew it) and shake her head so the strap was not positioned properly and crib away with every collar we tried before the Miracle Collar. That went on, only time she cribbed after that was if I turned her out after a ride and had forgotten to put it on.

                            Worked at a barn once, horse had wires on his teeth. Kind of reminded me of braces. Obviously a vet had to do this. For the longest time I just ignored them (although he was a tad nippy and those things scared the crap out of me when he'd turn for a nip) but I finally asked what they were for. He WAS a cribber. Emphasis on was.

                            The whole time I worked there I never once saw that horse crib, so I guess they work.

                            And somewhere on one of these forums someone posted about some surgery that can prevent cribbing? Not 100% sure on that one though. Seems a bit extreme. But, all around, cribbing is just not good. Physically, mentally, for the facility....
                            Owned by a Paint/TB and an OTTB.
                            RIP Scoutin' For Trouble ~ 2011 at 10
                            RIP Tasha's Last Tango ~ 2010 at ~23
                            RIP In Sha' Allah ~ 2009 too young at 5


                            • #15
                              I've always sort of looked at it like a neurosis of sorts, and wonder if the prototypical "poor doer" cribber is just cribbing because something bothers it all the time (physical, mental, whatever) rather than the cribbiing itself being physically bad in terms of colic, etc. Or, put another way, some horses crib just like some people self-mutilate or scratch themselves raw or pull their hair out . . . they have a compulsion to do so. And this may be linked to general anxiety which is also detrimental to their health. So it isn't the stereotypical behavior that makes the victim sick/anxious/thin/ulcery/colicky but the coexistent anxiety.

                              Not sure there's a shred of evidence to support this, however.
                              Click here before you buy.


                              • #16
                                Crack Addict--YES!

                                Destructive, bad neck muscling, usually ulcer prone or anxious types in my experience,boarding barns don't want to board your cribber (like literally, would not take us), in other words, all the reasons listed by others.

                                I had a bad cribber and to control it with the strap it had to be TIGHT and he got terrible rubs. I would have to wash and replace the fleece liner every couple days. It traps moisture there and they get sores if you are not hyper-vigilant (and even then it sometimes happens). He was also ulcer-prone.

                                Regarding the surgery--I remember being told it works better on very young horses. I don't know what the success rate is on an older horse. A horse in the barn had it done (really gross--it is a "real" procedure). He recovered and did not crib, but was shortly sold, so I don't know if he cribs now that he is older or if it worked.

                                Before I bred my mare I questioned all the stallion owners if their studs cribbed. Some of them scoffed at me or were annoyed (I mean who cares if it is an FEI or Olympic stallion was the attitude). I do! I think there can be a genetic component--I knew a line that was full of cribbers. Makes you wonder. Maybe it is because of some underlying stomach issues that line has too...

                                Finally, my cribber never caused any other horse to crib (30 horses around him). Just my experience.
                                DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                                • #17
                                  I've also heard that it's a myth that other horses pick up cribbing by watching cribbers. Recent research points to genetics.

                                  I second the recommendation of the DARE collar. My gelding doesnt crib at all when wearing it. And to me, it feels the most humane.
                                  "I am still under the impression there is nothing alive quite so beautiful
                                  as a thoroughbred horse."

                                  -JOHN GALSWORTHY


                                  • #18
                                    We have a HORRIBLE cribber. He had the cribbing rings in between his teeth when we got him. We thought they looked really mean and painful so we had them taken out. Totally regret it now. Collars do nothing to stop this horse. He cribs on everything...fences, metal panels (?) trucks, cars, buckets, you name it.

                                    He seems like he has anxiety about something. It truly seems like an addiction. Crack addict is the right way to describe it. He has weird muscling from it. He's a Hancock horse...I wonder if it's in his genes??
                                    Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
                                    White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

                                    Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.


                                    • #19
                                      For all the studies that say that it isn't picked up by other horses .....BULL DINKIES!!

                                      I have a 25yo cribber with no front teeth at all. He is on pasture all day and comes in at night. He only cribs when he eats and then only for a few minutes. He doesn't crib eating hay; only grain or treats and will occassionaly wander over to the fence to crib when turned out. He doesn't destroy wood or boards but uses the fence post instead.

                                      DD's horse was NEVER a cribber in the years that we had him until we moved to our new place four years ago where he was turned out with my guy. YUP, he's now a cribber & will suck on anything he can get his teeth on! I believe his to be more of an anxiety (OTTB) issue.

                                      Both are in good weight and have no other issues.
                                      "A lie doesn't become truth, wrong doesn't become right, and evil doesn't become good, just because it's accepted by a majority." Rick Warren


                                      • #20
                                        I used to know an OTTB at the barn I used to be at. She was a serious cribber. She was so bad, she would be seriously stressed if a cribbing collar was used on her. Luckily, the barn she was in had metal over the horizontal surfaces (so the worst she could do was wear down the paint but in the grand scheme of things, no real damage) and the field was fenced with high tensile wire so she could only crib on the posts out there (all of them in her field had an angle to the top of the post where she'd worn them down but they were otherwise undamaged). Unfortunately, she was also had chronic problems with gas colic and ulcers and was a hard keeper so she was eventually put down.

                                        So yeah, cribbing isn't healthy and can be destructive.

                                        That said, I do not believe other horses learn it from watching since the farm that mare I mentioned was on had over thirty horses and none of them, young or old, picked up the habit just from being around her.

                                        I do believe it's possible if a horse is genetically predisposed that if they see another horse doing it, they'll figure it out and thus become cribbers but they would likely have become cribbers eventually anyway whether they saw that horse or another one do it or figured it out on their own.
                                        The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
                                        Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.