Horse cribbing can be both destructive and dangerous for your horses as they can chew and swallow wood shards. The behavior is also disruptive to property and difficult for owners to control. It can also lead to serious dental issues if left unchecked.
A horse is not likely to learn cribbing from watching another horse. It seems to be a genetic predisposition combined with confinement in a stall for long periods of time. The behavior usually begins at a young age and is almost impossible to stop once it starts.
It is important to distinguish cribbing from a wood chewing habit, as the behaviours are quite different. In cribbing, the horse grasps something like a stall divider or fence rail with their incisors, contracts muscles in their neck to force air down into their throat and creates a grunting sound. While cribbing doesn’t provide any health benefits, it may be a coping mechanism for stress or pain. Wood chewing is more akin to the horse swaying and shifting their body weight, as they repeatedly swing their head and neck side to side.