Does Omeprazole Reduce Cribbing in Horses?

A researcher tested whether treating gastric ulcers as the cause of cribbing could reduce the behavior; omeprazole at a standard dose wasn’t useful for this purpose.
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Does Omeprazole Reduce Cribbing in Horses?
Researchers have linked gastric issues, such as colic or ulcers, and cribbing in horses, but they’ve never confirmed if one causes the other. | Photo: The Horse Staff

Researchers have linked gastric issues, such as colic or ulcers, and cribbing in horses, but they’ve never confirmed if one causes the other. So, a student at Randolph College, in Lynchburg, Virginia, sought to determine if treating gastric ulcers as the cause could reduce the notoriously difficult-to-curb behavior in cribbers.

Reilly Wren presented her study findings at the 2019 Equine Science Society Symposium, held June 3-6 in Asheville, North Carolina.

One theory as to why cribbing sometimes occurs simultaneously with gastric ulcers, said Wren, is that it’s a relief mechanism for stomach discomfort. Cribbing increases saliva production, which helps buffer the stomach acid that causes painful gastric ulcers. When horses crib, they also produce β-endorphin, an opioid that not only gives them an endorphin “high” but also can provide pain relief, Wren explained

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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