Cribbing, which refers to horses grasping something (such as a fence board, feeder or water bucket) with their upper teeth while arching their neck to “suck in” air, is an undesirable behavior which may cause physical and mental strain on them. Cribbing has the potential to be damaging as well as stressful to an animal.
Home remedies to reduce cribbing include making changes to their diet, turning out in larger pastures and using toys that dispense treats. Also beneficial: creating an environment which reduces stress while simultaneously treating any discomforts they might be experiencing.
1. Clean the Stall
Cleanliness in your stall is an effective way to discourage your horse from cribbing, as once it becomes habitual it can be hard to break the cycle.
Add fresh new bedding to the stall – whether that means wheelbarrowful of straw or opening up a bag of shavings and fluffing them into an even, loose layer for easy floor care – by replacing old with new bedding.
Encourage your horse to consume forage regularly. Cribbing can often be related to stomach ulcers or excess gastric acid levels; by providing more forage options for them, providing access may help mitigate such behaviors and decrease them altogether.
2. Put a Collar on
Once a horse begins crib-biting, it can be both difficult and expensive to stop it – however there are some home remedies which may provide relief.
Use creosote or anti-crib spray on fences, gates and stall partitions to make them less appealing to cribbers, while raising water buckets, wooden feeders troughs and feeders to chest level to deter cribbers from biting into them.
Some horse behaviorists believe cribbing is linked to stomach discomfort; therefore, products designed to soothe the lining or neutralize excess acid may help. Furthermore, dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant for people) has been shown to reduce cribbing in some horses.
3. Put a Barrier in the Stall
Cribbing horses may do it out of boredom or stress; this stereotypical behavior could lead to painful stomach ulcers and increased wear on their incisors among other health concerns.
Installing metal covers or coating surfaces with products designed to make them taste foul can help decrease the urge to crib. Another strategy for combatting this behavior is providing plenty of forage and turnout time for the horse.
Buddy horses, toys and slow feeders can also help reduce a horse’s desire to crib by keeping it busy and entertained.
4. Put a Fence in the Stall
Cribbing, also known as crib biting or wind sucking, can cause immense frustration for its owners as well as wear on teeth, stomach ulcers and other health issues for horses.
Stopping horse behavior that causes injury can be difficult, but prevention is key. Make sure your horse has enough turnout, pasture buddies and healthy diet as well as spraying wood surfaces with creosote or anti-crib chemicals for added support.
5. Put a Gate in the Stall
Cribbing horses have no one-stop explanation; though most believe their act to be due to boredom and anxiety. Cribbing can also be caused by stomach ulcers or other medical conditions that affect digestion.
Home remedies exist for treating or preventing cribbing in horses. Physical prevention such as using a cribbing collar/strap can help deter horses from cribbing on surfaces they shouldn’t, while diet and exercise also appear to aid prevention of this behavior. It is wiser, however, to work with your veterinarian on finding alternative outlets to relieve stress.
6. Put a Water Bucket in the Stall
Horses crib to relieve their own anxiety. Cribbing releases natural beta-endorphins and increases sensitization of dopamine receptors in their brains – this neurochemical feedback loop creates a self-reinforcing system which causes more cribbing from them.
Stall horses often become bored and resort to cribbing as a form of entertainment. Turnout with another horse, pasture time, and enrichment activities with toys have proven successful at decreasing cribbing behaviors.
Cribbing and chewing are distinct behaviors. While wood chewing may damage facilities, cribbing can harm a horse’s incisors.
7. Put a Feed Tub in the Stall
Cribbing (wind sucking) is an unattractive behavior that can damage barns and stalls while also increasing risk for certain forms of colic in horses. Studies have demonstrated that diet rich in forage as well as outdoor exercise reduce the chances of cribbing while toys may help keep a horse’s mouth busy while encouraging natural oral habits.
Cribbing may be caused by stomach discomfort; products to soothe the lining and neutralize excess acid are therefore advised. Turnout and daily hay time also help decrease the likelihood of cribbing episodes.
8. Put a Toy in the Stall
Cribbing can help relieve boredom or stress in horses by grasping on to something with the top incisors, arching their necks and sucking air in through their nose.
Cribbing can damage stall walls, gates and fences while becoming an inconvenience for owners. Horses who become addicted to head rushing may forego eating altogether and become malnourished as a result.
Though adding hot wire along fence boards or spraying “no chew” products on wood may deter horses, they don’t address the root cause. More pasture time, social interaction and diet that includes more forage instead of grain could help mitigate this issue.
9. Put a Wooden Feeder in the Stall
Placing a rack or wooden feeder in the stall can help minimize cribing. Hanging toys from the walls of the stall may also keep horses’ mouths busy and help decrease cribbering.
Although many see cribbing as an unpleasant vice, it appears to be an attempt by horses to alleviate stomach discomfort. Products designed to soothe the stomach lining or neutralize excess acid may help decrease cribbing; in addition, a full health screening should be conducted to identify and treat any medical conditions which might be contributing to it.
10. Put a Wooden Fence in the Stall
Cribbing can cause irreparable damage to a horse’s stall and barn. Although no guarantees can be provided against it happening again, some horse owners have reported success with special collars that prevent their horses from biting into or chewing at their stall’s bars.
Other methods may include painting cribbing surfaces with creosote or using anti-crib spray to discourage cribbing, while there are products on the market designed to taste bad and discourage it. Of course, prevention remains key by providing low stress environments and encouraging turnout with other horses.