Horse Sales: Cribbing Can Break the Deal

Even when a stalled, cribbing horse is turned out to pasture, they often continue to crib on the fencing or water troughs. It’s also interesting to note that some experts think cribbing can be a pleasurable sensation for horses and act as a stress reliever.

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Man O’ War is one of the most famous horses in the history of Thoroughbred racing. His full brother, Playfellow, who earned the highest sale price of the season decades ago, is famous for a very different reason. In June 1921 the title of the New York Times article read, “Playfellow Not Sound… Requests Return of $115,000.”

Playfellow’s unsoundness was not a lameness issue. He was a cribber.

The highly-publicized case remained in the headlines for over a year as lawyers battled back and forth in the courtroom. While James Johnson, the previous owner of Playfellow swore that he never saw the horse crib, Harry Sinclair, who paid the exorbitant sale price for the horse, noticed early on that the animal performed the behavior.

Mike Karlin, DVM, is an equine surgery resident at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana. He explains that, “cribbing is a vice where horses place their upper incisors on an object and arch their neck and pull back.” Many horses will inhale air during the process, but if they do so without placing their teeth on a fixed object it is called “wind sucking,” something that Playfellow was also alleged to do

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