Taking a Bite Out of Cribbing

Find out what researchers have learned in recent years about this stereotypic behavior in horses.
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Taking a Bite Out of Cribbing
Because no one really knows what causes horses to develop a cribbing habit, where they latch onto something like a fence rail and start gulping air, it can be hard both to avoid and manage. | Photo: The Horse Staff

What have researchers learned in recent years about this annoying and destructive habit?

“Cribber.” It is a word that’s quashed many a horse’s sale. No matter how glowing a prospect’s attributes are, the word immediately conjures up visions of destroyed fencing and stalls, as well as health hazards to the horse.

Because no one really knows what causes horses to develop a cribbing habit, where they latch onto something like a fence rail and start gulping air, it can be hard both to avoid and manage. Horses as young as weanlings can become cribbers, and if your cribber has athletic talent or you simply love his other fine qualities, chances are you’ll find a way to live with the problem.

Help is out there, though. Researchers and practitioners continue to investigate the undesirable habit, and while they haven’t found an absolute cure, they are making progress. Horse owners today have more options than ever for handling their cribbers, whose behavioral triggers can be just as variable as the solutions

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Written by:

Tracy Gantz is a freelance writer based in Southern California. She is the Southern California correspondent for The Blood-Horse and a regular contributor to Paint Horse Journal, Paint Racing News, and Appaloosa Journal.

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