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Cribbing Solutions?

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  • Cribbing Solutions?

    I lease an EXTERMELY mouthy horse. He never bites, but he licks like a dog and chews on everything; the arena rail, his bridle, my boots, my shirt, the crossties, you name it. He also cribs really badly. I wouldn't have that much of a problem with him chewing, but I really don't want him to crib because of colic hazards. Is there any way to stop this? I know putting him in pasture/a paddock might help, but I can't make that decision because I dont own him. Also, when he's in his paddock he will randomly fall asleep and fall over. I know its ridiculous, but its unsafe for him (I laughed so hard when told this!). At the moment, he wears a cribbing collar with a leather strap right behind his poll and metal under his gullet/windpipe (http://www.horseloverz.com/Other/292...p---Brown.html). I HATE it. He doesn't seem to mind it at all, but it is rubbing a raw patch on his throat. the sores dont hurt him, but they are nasty. Any looser and it just hangs. I don't know what to do. Are there other ways of preventing cribbing? Will other designs of collars work better? Should I put something in his stall for him to play with?
    Last edited by zigzagz; Feb. 7, 2013, 01:35 AM. Reason: My wording was a bit weird so I fixed it :)

  • #2
    If you let him crib, does he do that instead of eat? Does he lose condition? That's about the only situation where I would consider keeping a collar on a cribber.

    Cribbing = higher incidence of colic has been largely debunked.

    If you HAVE to keep a collar on him, I'd look at the Barclay Collar. Just email them for the contact info for their US distributor, since post from Australia is not at all reliable.

    Narcolepsy (the randomly falling asleep and falling over) is a whole separate issue, and frankly, more concerning than the cribbing.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Simkie View Post
      Cribbing = higher incidence of colic has been largely debunked.
      do you have references? I read a 2010 paper that still considered there to be a statistical association
      (hah I didn't bookmark anything so no citations here )

      OP - have you scoped or treated for ulcers? most cribbers have some degree of ulceration so you may see a reduction in cribbing - though it also becomes an ingrained habit over time so a complete absence of the behavior is unlikely ...

      Also be sure to talk to your vet about the falling asleep/over behaviour - this can be very dangerous


      • #4
        Sounds like ulcers!

        My horse was falling asleep/collapsing in non-active moments, apparently due to sleep deprivation. This stopped when we treated her for ulcers -- the working theory is that she was too uncomfortable to lie down to sleep. Not all sleep-collapse events indicate narcolepsy -- sleep deprivation (which can occur for any number of reasons) can also cause this. Joseph Bertone, DVM has written both scholarly and popular articles about the difference, which are easy to find on the web.

        I also recall research associating cribbing with ulcers, so the GI tract might be a good place to start with diagnostics!

        I hate cribbing straps/collars, having owned a voracious cribber (different from the aforementioned horse). Lifestyle changes made the most difference for that horse, but if it's not your horse you're probably limited w.r.t. major management changes. Early on I tried cribbing collars, but I swear the horse just built up bigger neck muscles and cribbed right through them. The low efficacy wasn't worth the sores and hang-up risk! Better to treat any pain that could contribute to cribbing behavior and not get too upset about the habit itself.
        Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!


        • #5
          My previous horse was a committed cribber and if anything I think wearing a collar only made him more aware of his need/want to crib. I treated him for ulcers and did not see any improvement (scoping several years later surprisingly indicated no history of ulcers at all - as a former racehorse we'd pretty much assumed he had them to some degree) but several friends of mine have had luck with ulcer treatment reducing cribbing.

          With my old horse, it was pretty clearly a well-ingrained habit. Stall toys like Jolly balls, etc. were a nice distraction as was always keeping hay in front of him anytime he had to be in, but the best solution for him was as much turnout as possible.


          • #6
            I recently moved my cribber to a barn that allows him to be on grass pasture most of the time. I decided to take off his collar and see what happened and he is not cribbing outside at all! He would rather graze than crib. The other thing I did was get a nibble net and stuff it each night with hay when he comes in. That mimics grazing and slows down his hay consumption. He is cribbing a little bit in his stall, but nothing like before he has pasture and a nibble net.

            There was one collar that worked 100% for my gelding, and it is called the Dare cribbing collar. The key to not having sores was to keep it very clean and well conditioned. I would wash it then rub it with MTG.

            I have also read that the theory of increased colic with cribbers is a myth. I agree with Simkie that if he is eating well and not losing weight because of cribbing, then you're better off just letting him be. I was in a barn that it was a requirement to put a strap on cribbers. My new place is ok with it, unless he starts pulling down fences outside. So far, he has never bothered walking to the fence to crib, he would rather eat grass.
            "I am still under the impression there is nothing alive quite so beautiful
            as a thoroughbred horse."

            -JOHN GALSWORTHY


            • #7
              The cribber we have at our barn will crib all day in his pasture...he has taken down 4 boards already! We haven't had a cribber in probably 8 years...for a while it was ruining the lovely normal munching hay sound in the barn at night!

              He does seem to really like his Freedom Feeder, and he doesn't seem to crib nearly as much in his stall. I think small hole hay nets are quite good at "busying" horses and giving them something to do. They also help reduce the risk of ulcers...which can be a reason for cribbing.
              Last edited by reay6790; Feb. 7, 2013, 12:19 PM.


              • #8
                Horses with ulcers have increased incidence of colic. Many/most cribbers have ulcers so I can see how someone might think that the cribbing is causing the colic, but it's not. It's the ulcers that cause both the cribbing and the ulcers.

                I'd treat for ulcers first. Then I use carpet tack strips to keep them from cribbing on doors, electric fencing to keep them off the fence and provide a piece of PVC attached to the top of their stall on one place so they can crib on at least one place to keep them happy. Works for my cribber.


                • #9
                  FWIW- Someone did a study at my uni last year investigating the sleeping patterns of crib biting horses, their findings indicated that cribbers actually slept less and were more mobile around the stable than the non crib biters.


                  • #10
                    My first horse was a cribber. He NEVER colicked in the 21 years I had him. He was a die hard cribber but he was a great eater as well. I chose to let him crib at a designated cribbing place. He was so much happier. Let the horse crib as long as he is healthy.


                    • Original Poster

                      His owner really wants me to keep a collar on him, so I guess I have to. Thanks for the advice And yes, I find the narcolepsy concerning as well but his owner does not seemed worried.


                      • #12
                        You mentioned the narcolepsy happening in the paddock - does it happen at any other time? I would be concerned for the safety of anyone working around the horse (grooming in crossties, in the stall, etc...). No one needs a horse falling on them - this could be a huge liability for you if he does fall over and hurt you or an employee.