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Cribbing

This is a discussion on Cribbing within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • (Horse Oral Addicts)

  • Aloe vera for cribbing

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    07-03-2012, 01:54 PM
  #11
Showing
Another thing to try is a salt/mineral block. Sometimes they just need something else enticing to reduce the amount of time they spend cribbing.
     
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    07-03-2012, 02:08 PM
  #12
Green Broke
I've heard of people having success decreasing the amount of cribbing a horse does, but not curing it completely.

My horse cribbed on anything and everything when I first brought him home. I suspect some of it was the stress of moving to a new place and new owner, but I put him on U-gard and aloe vera juice for a while just in case (he still gets a half dose of u-gard, but no aloe vera) and he cribs less now, but I still had to put a cribbing collar (Miracle Collar) on him. Even with the fleece covers for it, it rubs, so I've ordered a second style of cribbing collar (Dare collar) to rotate them so the rubs have a chance to heal.

Cribbing collars and muzzles seem to be the least invasive ways to stop a horse from cribbing, but of course only work as long as they're on.

This website (Stop Horse Cribbing) sells a training program that they guarantee will stop cribbing in 30 days or your money back, but I haven't tried it, mostly because I don't believe it would work
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    07-03-2012, 05:08 PM
  #13
Weanling
There's one very effective cure: 24/7 turnout on pasture, especially with electric tape on the fences.
Most cribbers crib because of boredom. You see virtually no cribbers who are on green pastureboard.
     
    07-03-2012, 07:56 PM
  #14
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by eclipseranch    
cribbing generally starts from boredom or mimic so attempts of prevention yes, after its there not going to stop
This used to be the common belief. But studies have shown that it is GI tract problems, such as ulcers that are the root cause. Also it doesn't seem likely at all that horses mimic eachother in this way. I'm not sure if the 'jury's in' on the subject, but many behaviourists don't think it's even possible for horses to learn by mimickry.
     
    07-03-2012, 10:41 PM
  #15
Foal
I'm certainly no expert at all, just someone who's fascinated with equine minds. I've read some literature that says horses can really "think," as in form concepts and categorize things.

My horse has watched me mimic - like crowing back at my rooster, and howling with my dogs - and I swear he knows what I'm doing. He doesn't follow suit though! :)
     
    07-04-2012, 06:28 AM
  #16
Showing
I'm afraid that is very untrue, rascalboy. I've seen horses that will use their own knee to crib or just wait until they are within range of something to use. A cribber is the equivalent of a drug addict without the social or legal stigma.
     
    07-04-2012, 07:38 AM
  #17
Foal
Cribbing is what is known as an oral stereotypy and its a sign that the horse's welfare has been compromised in the past. Its a coping mechanism which makes the horse feel better. Of all the stereotypies it is the most resistant to extinction (cure) and even when the precipitating cause has been removed, most cribbers will continue to practice it.

It is now though to be caused by too little access to forage/fibre, grain diets, too little turn out, and the feeding of grain or sweet feed to foals and weanlings. It is thought that the horse performs it firstly as a way to product more saliva to buffer the acid eating its empty stomach, and then that it gets a dopamine release from doing it. So even when its put out to pasture 24/7 and can keep its stomach full of food to buffer the acid, it will still crib. All my cribbers did just that years after never having seen the inside of a stable and eating only grass.

One treatment that is showing promise is the use of antacid type substances which buffer the stomach acid and thus reduce the discomfort the horse experiences when its stomch is empty. Your vet or a produce store might be able to help with that.

Many of the other "cures" are inhumane and especially if the horse is not given access to ad lib forage like hay, the "cure" is then preventing it from performing a behaviour that gives it some comfort in a situation that is causing it distress. The windsucking collars often have to be put on so tight they cause bruising and sores and the horse will often keep its head low to keep the collar looser, even when they are walking or trotting around the paddock.

Because its a coping behaviour and they get the opioid release, most cribbers are highly motivated to keep performing it and thus will simply find ways to crib even with the collars, crib stop pastes and electric fencing. Surgery is sometimes suggested but a number of good studies have demonstrated that well over half of the horses operated on go back to cribbing.

It took me years to accept that my horse was always going to be a cribber because of poor management when she was weaned and to simply let her do it. I read everything I could about it, many scientific papers and talked to vets who had studied it and came to the conclusion that letting my horse crib was the most humane option for her.

If they are damaging yards/stables then setting up a cribbing spot where it won't matter if it gets teeth marks and is made of something that is less likely to damage the teeth can be an option. Providing ad lib hay and as much turn out as possible should reduce the amount of time the horse spends cribbing. And if the barn owner is worried other horses will copy, they shouldn't, there is not a shred of scientific evidence that cribbers learn from other horses, however it may be that if many horses in the one place are suffering from the same problems they will start cribbing to try to solve it. Its now known that there is a genetic component and some horses will become cribbers while others won't even if both are kept in situations which would encourage it.
     
    07-04-2012, 06:29 PM
  #18
Weanling
I would just get him a cribbing collar, I don't think it will go away, best to talk to a good vet about that.
     
    07-05-2012, 08:58 AM
  #19
Foal
I am a long-time owner of cribbers and currently have two. One has been with me for 16 years (he's now 20) and was a cribber when he was given to me. The other I've had for three years, she was also a cribber when I bought her (can you tell I'm not worried about it? Heh.)

Corymbia's post is very good and pretty much covers the current state of knowledge on cribbing (I've done a fair amount of research myself over the past 16 years...).

It's true that you can't really 'cure' a horse of cribbing unfortunately (for the reasons Corymbia already explained). Best thing you can do for the horse is manage it accordingly. In other words, make her more comfortable. It's true that most cribbers pick up the habit because of gastrointestinal problems (high levels of stomach acid and/or ulcers, these are related). These are usually caused by keeping/feeding the horse in a manner that goes against the nature of the horse.

Here's what I would do (and did with mine) to reduce the cribbing. Just my 2c so you can take it at face value :
1) Turn the horse out as much as possible, preferably to pasture. If she can't have grass all day, dry lot works.
2) Make sure she always has something to eat. Grass hay of the longer, stemmy kind works best (if you don't have access to pasture). The point isn't so much to get a bunch of nutrients in her, but to keep her system 'busy' and her stomach full.
3) Avoid large portions of grain. These work like a 'bomb' on her system and will trigger more cribbing. If the horse has a hard time keeping weight on with just pasture or hay, or needs supplements, try soaked alfalfa/timothy cubes with an oil (fat) supplement.
4) Check for ulcers. Cheapest way to do this (without having to scope or start with omeprazole meds, both of which are crazy expensive) is to go to Walmart and get a large bottle of the 1000mg tums. A bottle of those, Walmart brand, is about $4.-. Give the horse 10 of these a few times a day, either from the hand or in her feed and see if this reduces the cribbing. Or if the horse has a tendency to be girthy or sensitive around his barrel, see if this gets better after a few days. If any of those improve, you have a gastrointestinal problem that is contributing to the cribbing. (if this is the case, there's adjustments you can make to her feed that will help him heal. You can pm me for a link)

Finally, some additional thoughts:
5) Do not use collars. Just don't. They don't work, horses will figure out a way around/through them. They cause damage, I've seen too many horses with sores, permanent indentations of the throatlatch, damage to vocal cords, etc.
6) Let her crib. Yup, just like Corymbia said: they do it for a reason and making it impossible without addressing the possible cause first is cruel. No, she won't colic from the cribbing. The air they appear to suck in hardly ever makes it to the stomach. It lingers in the esophagus and is burped back up. The cribbing itself is not what causes colic in cribbers, it's the underlying gastrointestinal problems.

This turned into a really long post, sorry... Good luck with her, if you try the things above she should at least ease up on the cribbing and stay happy.

Edited because I just figured out your horse is a she and not a he
     
    07-05-2012, 06:55 PM
  #20
Green Broke
While I agree with most of the points made by Corymbia and Amstel, I do strongly feel that cribbing leads to gas colic. Horses can't burp up the air that they swallow when they crib, just like they can't vomit.

I tried the "let him crib" approach when I first got my horse (while also supplementing him with U-gard and aloe vera juice) and he was always gassy, and had what I'm pretty sure was a mild gas colic at least once when I was there. Since putting a collar on my horse, he hasn't been gassy at all, and hasn't displayed any behavior like the mild gas colic episode.
     

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