It is a vice that can create long-term health problems for your horse. The most obvious health issue for cribbers is their teeth since the constant grinding of teeth against wood, plastic or metal wears them down at an abnormally quick pace. A long-term cribber can grind his front teeth down so low that a gap exists between the upper and lower teeth even when the jaw is completely closed.
It is also commonly believed that cribbing can ultimately lead to an increased chance of colic, flatulence and digestion problems due to the air that is swallowed.
Some recent studies have questioned this common belief, suggesting that a very minimal quantity of air taken in during cribbing actually reaches the stomach. They suggest that increased colic and flatulence are not directly attributed to the cribbing itself, but rather secondary factors such as worn teeth. When a horse's teeth are worn down to the point they cannot grind the food their digestion will suffer significantly, thereby leading to an increased chance of colic. They do not eat as well and are difficult to keep weight on.Horses who crib have a decrease in appetite. Experts now feel that the horse's poor appetite is not from feeling full of air, but because they would rather be "high" than eat. Its one of the hardest habbits to brake, and Im happy that none of my horses have ever had this bad habbit!! :)
I must contest the new assertion that cribbing does not directly cause colic. My mom's horse collared as a cribber after she got him. A few months later she saw the previous owner in a store and the prev. Owner asked (kinda snide i'd say) how many times he had coliced (spelling??). Apparently he was a notorious colicer. He had not coliced once. About 5 years later he would colic once, coincidentally his crib collar had been put on 2 holes looser than usual.
Another approx. 5 years passed uneventfully, then he coliced again and died because he had been weakened by age. Coincidentally, the girl leasing him had put on his crib strap 3 holes too loose. Sure, they could be coincidences, and it is only one horse. But that horse NEVER coliced except when the collar was too loose and he was seen cribbing (he never even tried to crib when the collar was on properly).