Compulsive Behavior in Horses

Horse Cribbing

Compulsive behavior in horses is called cribbing. It is an act that repetitive and mindless.

The horse will use his incisors to press down on a gate, fence post, stall board, gulp in air with an arched neck and make a belching sound.

If a horse exhibits this type of behavior, it means he’s not getting enough mental, physical or social stimulation.

In the wild, horses graze up to 16 hours daily. As herd animals, they mingle with other horses and use their socialization skills. They have the freedom to play and romp when they choose to exercise. If they are confined to a stall for long periods, they can develop cribbing and other unwanted behaviors due to their frustration.

Cribbing is a behavior, that once it takes hold, is extremely difficult to correct if it’s at all possible.

One recommendation that appears to help in reducing cribbing is to feed hay before giving the horse any grain. The chewing and grinding required to eat hay may be what the horse needs.

There is an item available called a cribbing collar that fits around a horse’s neck. The collar doesn’t allow the horse to gulp air when cribbing. It helps some horses, but some still continue with cribbing. Many stables will not board a horse that cribs.

To avoid cribbing or other unwanted behaviors, a horse should be raised with the ability to socialize with other horses and have access to grazing land with lots of roughage.

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