Cribbing and Colic in Horses: What’s the Link?
The latest on the unlikely relationship between brain, behavior, and belly
Researchers estimate that 2-10% of all horses crib. This stereotypy (defined as a relatively unchanging, repetitive pattern of behavior with no apparent goal or function) involves grasping an object with the incisors, flexing the muscles on the underside of the neck, and drawing air into the upper esophagus, usually while emitting a characteristic grunt, says Sabrina Briefer Freymond, PhD, a researcher at the Agroscope Swiss National Stud Farm, in Avenches.
As a behavioral biologist, Briefer Freymond investigates equine stress physiology and the personality and learning capacity of cribbers, striving to better understand this behavior and its effect on horse welfare.
While some undesirable aspects of cribbing (also called crib-biting) are obvious—such as damage to the surface the horse grips—other effects might be less clear. For example, horses that crib might be at an increased risk of suffering certain types of
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