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Cribbing in Horses

February 15, 2018
Does your horse have a habit of cribbing? If so, Silver is in good company. This is a fairly common behavior, and one that is often considered a bad habit. However, cribbing may be a bit more than just bad horse manners. A Pickerington, OH vet discusses cribbing below.

What Is Cribbing?

Cribbing is certainly nothing new: it’s been documented for centuries. In technical terms, cribbing is the process of biting on a hard (usually wood) structure, and then breathing in deeply. In laymen’s terms, this is what Silver is doing when he eats the walls of his stall or the top of a fence. As one can imagine, cribbing isn’t exactly great for your barn or paddocks, and it isn’t good for your horse, either!

Dangers of Cribbing

Although the jury is still out on whether cribbing causes health issues or is caused by them, there is a correlation between cribbers and gastrointestinal issues like colic, which is one of the most dreaded words a horse owner can hear. It’s possible that the way Silver ingests air could upset his digestive system, but it’s also possible that the reason horses crib in the first place is to relieve discomfort. This is because cribbing stimulates saliva production, which can help soothe upset stomachs. Ask your vet for more information.

Preventing Cribbing

There are some ways to reduce the chances of your horse cribbing. Make sure your equine pal is getting enough forage, and lots of turnout time with his buddies. Stall toys, such as a ball hung from the rafters, can keep Silver occupied indoors, and help prevent boredom. It’s also very important to make sure your horse is getting a proper diet, and has a salt lick or loose salt.

Handling Cribbing

If your horse is cribbing, have him thoroughly examined by a vet ASAP, to make sure he doesn’t have any gastrointestinal issues, such as ulcers. (It’s worth noting that when horses that crib are diagnosed with ulcers, treating the ulcers often stops the cribbing.) If your horse gets the all-clear, there are products available that may help, such as topical coatings which you can apply to your stall and fencing. You can also get Silver a special collar, or install an anti-weaving bar. Please contact us, your Pickerington, OH pet hospital, for all of your horse’s veterinary care needs. We are here to help!