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Posted on 03-19-2014

     Cribbing is a repetitive behavior of a horse, the behavior appears to have no purpose and usually lasts about 3-5 seconds. The behavior includes a horse who rests his top teeth on a stationary object (feed bin, bucket, stall door/board, fence post, tree trunk/limb, etc.), sucks air into his throat by contracting muscles and arching his neck, and then releasing the air all at once; this rush of air makes a distinctive belching or grunting sound.
     This behavior is often associated with stress or frustration; it can develop when horses are in high-stress situations and when they are subjected to tight management practices that involve confinement to stalls, but can also be seen even when they live in a pasture with other horses. It is said that once a horse begins to crib, he will persist to do so throughout their lifetime.
     Why might my horse be cribbing? The behavior can run in families, there could be a lack of social interaction or lack of grazing/foraging opportunities, the diet could be too highly concentrated, your horse could be bored, was weaned too early, etc. No matter the reason, it is important to know that cribbing can cause excessive tooth wear (possibly leading to inability to properly chew feed), chronic weight loss to do the horse spending more time cribbing than actually eating, and cribbing can (of course) damage the objects that the horse is cribbing on.
     No matter what the cause, it is always recommended to contact your veterinarian to rule out possible medical causes of this behavior.

For treatment of cribbing and more information, please visit: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/horse-behavior/cribbing

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