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I have a 3 year old Standardbred mare, who cribs flat out! She is wearing a traditional cribbing collar which will stop her, sometimes. But tonight, for the 2nd time in two months I had to tighten it. I don't know if its stretching or if shes getting stronger... The minute the collar comes off she furiously cribs on anything in sight!
I have tried a shock collar (which I hated) but it zapped her and she didn't react. At all. Just kept on cribbing.
I have been told it could be a copper deficiency, so I have been adding liberal amounts of copper to her feed to top her up, with no effect.
All the posts in the paddock are wooden so its perfect for cribbing, and its not practical to fence them off and to put electric wire around the tops would be very expensive. She's turned out 24/7 with other horses and fed regularly.
I want to know what I can do to reduce the amount she cribs? I need to stop the cribbing because shes very thin and I have heard cribbing excessively can cause colic.
Any suggestions welcome! Thanks:)
 

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I have a 3 year old Standardbred mare, who cribs flat out! She is wearing a traditional cribbing collar which will stop her, sometimes. But tonight, for the 2nd time in two months I had to tighten it. I don't know if its stretching or if shes getting stronger... The minute the collar comes off she furiously cribs on anything in sight!
I have tried a shock collar (which I hated) but it zapped her and she didn't react. At all. Just kept on cribbing.
I have been told it could be a copper deficiency, so I have been adding liberal amounts of copper to her feed to top her up, with no effect.
All the posts in the paddock are wooden so its perfect for cribbing, and its not practical to fence them off and to put electric wire around the tops would be very expensive. She's turned out 24/7 with other horses and fed regularly.
I want to know what I can do to reduce the amount she cribs? I need to stop the cribbing because shes very thin and I have heard cribbing excessively can cause colic.
Any suggestions welcome! Thanks:)
Hi is she out 24/7 all year round?
if yes then the only thing i can think that will stop her is to put a grazing muzzle on,but you said she is thin so that would not help her with the weight gain unless you can feed her little and often or bring her in for half an hour for some good quality hay/haylage then put her back out in the muzzle.
Or you can buy anti-crib paint you could try that on the fencing but not sure how or if it will be effective given that you say its so bad.
I have a horse opposite my stable that cribs,but thats out of boredom and nobody seems to care,not even his owner so thats their way of dealing with it...ignore it!! not the best solution or one i would recommend but each to their own i guess!
 

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Hi,

Was she an OT horse, kept & fed 'intensively' for racing?

Cribbing is a 'coping behaviour' that horses do because they are suffering. So addressing the cause is vital, and I do not consider punishment is generally fair or reasonable if you don't - if you're not removing the motivation, IMHO, just let her do it, to find some relief. As you've found, punishing without addressing the cause is also not all that effective, and for it to be, the punishment needs to be a lot stronger than the competing motivation - so for eg the shock collar obviously wasn't strong enough - it needs to REALLY hurt her, & EVERY TIME she tries it.

Windsucking/cribbing is classed as a 'stereotypic' behaviour, meaning it's very compulsive & hard/impossible to break, even in absence of cause, once it becomes a strong habit. **It has recently been found that it may not be such an 'OCD' but that there are underlying physical issues still causing it, and some confirmed wind suckers have indeed been 'cured'.

The major cause of horses 'cribbing' is stomach ulcers or other digestive probs from not being fed adequately - too much carb/rich feed, &/or infrequent large meals &/or not enough roughage & going hungry for hrs on end. Nutritional balance has also been associated, and particularly, supplementing adequate magnesium is one of the measures said to 'cure' confirmed cribbers. Mental stress & boredom from being locked up & alone has also been long associated with the 'habit', but as lack of exercise(which effects digestion) and incorrect feeding practices generally go along with being cooped up, I'm not so sure 'mental probs' can cause it. Tho they can def. cause other health & wellbeing probs & I'd want to eliminate/minimise them regardless.

So... Firstly, great your horse is not cooped up, & free choice access to hay whenever she doesn't have grazing may help. Make sure she gets minimal if any sugary/starchy(grain for eg) feed, and that she's fed over 3-4 small meals daily, rather than 1-2 larger ones.

Treat her for ulcers. Not dead against the drugs they use - omeprazole or ranitide - but I would use herbal treatments too, like slippery elm, aloe, liquorice etc. Because the drugs only work to reduce stomach acid production, not actively heal or protect the inflamed tissue, and as such, they are only helpful for stomach ulcers & do nothing for 'hind gut' ulcers.

Ensure she's getting well balanced nutrition, with particular attention to magnesium levels. You need to do at least a basic diet analysis to work out what she's getting, to then work out what's needed to 'fill the gaps'. Dishing her up supps willy nilly is not just potentially wasteful, but can be seriously harmful. Such as...

could be a copper deficiency, so I have been adding liberal amounts of copper to her feed
Do you realise copper is a heavy metal & incredibly toxic in overdose?? It's also a substance that is not excreted, but accumulates in the liver. I hope you're doing this as part of a balanced diet(but adequate 'liberal' amounts are usually something like a small pinch of copper in the feed twice weekly), on nutritionist's/vets advice, but if not, QUIT IMMEDIATELY and consult a vet/nutritionist about countering the effects - like start adding dolomite, or other Ca/Mg supp, which is a bit of an 'antidote' to copper poisoning - tho as something that isn't excreted, it won't get rid of it from the system.

All the posts in the paddock are wooden so its perfect for cribbing, and its not practical to fence them off and to put electric wire around the tops would be very expensive.
If you're going to allow her adequate places to crib, that's not going to be helpful. Electric wire along the top is about the cheapest option to reduce her opportunity & punish her for trying.

because shes very thin and I have heard cribbing excessively can cause colic.
Any suggestions welcome! Thanks:)
Yes, it has commonly been thought that horses are at higher risk of colic & weightloss because of cribbing. However, that's a 'chicken & egg' thing & there have been a lot of studies showing that it is the *underlying cause* that's responsible for both colic & weightloss, not the coping behaviour that's another 'symptom' of it. One thing cribbing does tend to cause of itself though, is uneven & excessive wear of front teeth.
 

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Was she stalled a lot in the past? Extreme boredom can lead to chronic cribbers and just like people who chew their nails when they get stressed or bored, it is an OCD type behavior that is hard to break, especially when (unlike with people) you cannot explain to her why it is bad for her.
My mares only crib in the winter when they are forced to stand around bored between feedings. Putting them on free roundbale feed would help but my younger mare balloons if she gets too much. So I throw mineral tubs and sometimes oat straw out to preoccupy them. But they don't hurry to the fences to chew, it's more like they chew if they happened to wander over to the fence and it is right in front of them.
How big is your field? Is there plenty of grass or slim pickings?
To me it sounds like something psychological, which sad to say wont be a cheap or easy fix. removing all wood would be the only permanent fix but that is also the most expensive. Running electric wire would be your next best bet. Putting up wire horse fence either al the way around the pasture or just around the posts so that she cannot get through to them with her teeth is again pricey but possible.
Or else you could invest in a different sort of collar that is more aggressive and not leather, as leather does stretch
 

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Cribbing is a stereo typi behavior, first started as a coping mechanism,
Unfortunately, once established, it becomes a need onto itself
In other words, while management in the beginning, is huge, far as preventing the beginning of this type of coping mechanism, once it is firmly established, it becomes a need in itself, even if the original cause is gone.
Not much to do, except remove all things the hrose can latch teeth onto, provide lots of pasture
 

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My mares only crib in the winter when they are forced to stand around bored between feedings. Putting them on free roundbale feed would help but my younger mare balloons if she gets too much. So I throw mineral tubs and sometimes oat straw out to preoccupy them.
It is not the boredom, but the going hungry between feeds. Oat straw is pretty much devoid of nutrients, but is still usually quite full of sugar. A small holed hay net over the round(or small) bale should slow down her intake a lot, or putting a grazing muzzle on her for part of the day, or such...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks everyone! You all asked too many questions for me to answer individually so I will try explain the situation as best I can.
She was once a race horse, yes, and I think that maybe the cribbing started as a boredom/ stress thing, most likely while stabled. Now I own her she's turned out 24/7 all year. Shes in a decent sized paddock but the grass is eaten low at the moment and she's being fed once a day. Will try feeding her more often and providing her with hay :) Would rather not ignore it as it can be serious.
Thank you all, you were all a big help!! :)
 

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So far, over 40 years I've never come across a cribbing collar that works even though it seems that everyone comes up with the next new miracle cure. A lot of people leave the collars on even though the horses continue to crib and/or wind suck.

I have a (mostly) reformed cribber and the only thing that "cured" him was daily pasture turnout with a small herd at least 12-14 hours a day. He's too busy eating and wandering with his buddies now to even think of it. And....by the way in 10+ years when he was actually confined to a stall and cribbed constantly (along with half the horses in the barn), he never had any ill health effects from it although it was annoying.

It starts with boredom and stress then leads an addiction because it releases those "feel good" endorphins-no wonder there's no real cure. When my cribber was stall bound, he'd sometimes even crib between bites of hay! Now when he is brought in for the night for his hay and grain (along with his herd buddies), I sometimes see him think about going through the motions but stop, and go back to his hay. I believe that having his buddies around him in adjoining stalls reassures him.

When you mention "paddock" I automatically imagine an enclosure that is quite small and restrictive compared to a grass pasture. The combination of a daily turnout for long periods of time in a decent sized pasture with no shortage of grass along with a membership in a small herd is the only thing I've ever seen that reduces or stops cribbing.
 

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When you mention "paddock" I automatically imagine an enclosure that is quite small and restrictive compared to a grass pasture.
Do you? A 'paddock' here, IMO is of at least an acre - anything smaller's a 'yard' - up to many thousands of acres, depending where you live. You might ride for a day to the next gate! I think of 'pasture' as good grazing, esp the type that you find dairy cows on. Or at least good grass - it doesn't matter what size paddock you find it in.
 
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