Hola riders and great advisers,

I was open for an adoption this Fall and a great person, animal lover & generous rider  gave me a horse today! This 10 year old mare (quarter horse) will be a companion to my horse for the winter and luckily forever!

She is in great health and I rode her a couple of time this last week. Very gentle and calm. BUT...she came from a heavy-duty show/event/jumping life and she was confined in stalls a lot. She developed the bad habit of cribbing...

THis week...I am then learning everything about this new THING....:

"Cribbing is an unfortunate, and usually preventable, habit. Instead of scrambling for a cure after it is long established, be proactive in prevention. Give your horses plenty of exercise outside the stall in good pasture land, plenty of environmental stimulation, socialization with other horses or animals, a healthy diet void of nutritional gaps, and your personal affection and attention."

My challenge this month, winter and year is to have her STOP completely. We gave her a 5 acres grass field, a spirited companion and 10 other geldings across the fence...that made her go "on heat" right away within 20 min!!  She cribbed in my presence only about 3 times in the whole week I spent around her.

-when I was saddling her
-when I fed both of them and her bucket was empty before my gelding
-when she seemed bored in the shed...(even she has freedom to 5 flat acres).

My concern is that 
**she might teach that bad habit to my gelding...(but not likely). He was staring at her today...wondering "what the eck is that noise" , that really worth a picture!
**She might not be accepted in that great private property where she is at prior to winter if she does any damages. SHe has a mask (but it is heavy and I can't imagine her with that the whole day).
I will spray from Cayenne pepper on the wooden board tomorrow and keep checking on her regularly. 

Apparently in the last 1 and 1/2 year since she has moved to grassy land (but she was still competing) she really slowed down her bad habits. My plan is to never have her in confined area and no more trailer trips!
The owner gave her to me in hope that I'll give her a great "horse life", closer to nature, trail rides only and no more event for a new healthy lifestyle in order to help her stop cribbing.

Have you had a horse that crib? Any advices?
Have you ever heard of a cribber who completely stopped doing it?
THANK YOU SO MUCH for responses, advices and time!!


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Hi, Sorsiair:

I've had several horses which crib, and I have one at the moment who windsucks, and has done so since we purchased her as a 3 y.o. Most of these were/are horses who were raised in very restrictive circumstances, and learned to crib as a coping mechanism for tension.

In every case except the current one access to pasture, quality work and exercise, free choice hay, and companions have resolved the cribbing entirely. Even the 6 year old stallion I got who was a really confirmed cribber gave it up after a year of that kind of management, and while I'd bought him a collar, I only used it for about 3 months.

The mare we have now, who windsucks, will stand in the pasture with her mates, in front of the hay feeders, and windsuck. She's a sensitive and hot horse, and while the behaviour has improved since we purchased her, it hasn't stopped. I suspect she's got ulcers, and suggested to her owner that we scope her 2 years ago when our provincial internist was in our area with a scope. The owner was horrified to even consider such a thing, but has since re-considered. I have resolved to approach her about putting the mare on 2 months of Gastrogard during December and January, when we have our worst weather and can't train as much as usual, as that's likely to be our best window for treatment.

I have never, in 53 years of owning and managing horses, actually witnessed another horse "catching" the problem from a cribber/windsucker. I've had cribbers from time to time throughout my career, and they have always come to me with the problem, usually resolved it, and no other horse in my care has ever developed it. I think for the most part that it's an old wives' tale, born more of poor management within the same barns, hence the acceptance of the idea that the horses actually "teach" others to do it, when in fact it's the prevalence of poor management practices which is creating the issue.
Thank you so much Justice and Jan!
I really appreciate your feedback and the positiv news!

I have also noticed something yesterday (as she was by my gelding)...her smell is different, the smell of her coat, skin, etc. ANY ideas? would that be linked to an ulcer maybe?...

I then started to compare his (healthy) smell to hers (weird smell)...She has little cut above her eye and I was wondering if that is what it was...but no. I had a friend (who knows not much about horses) who came by and noticed it as well. I have never experienced or noticed such a different smell like this, being around horses for so long.

She sucks air mostly, she pulls back. Doesn't really chew wood at all, but leaves some mark on it anyway...

She also has an area (by her top shoulder front leg) that seems to sweat always faster, even by just walking. Apparently the vet said that if she isn't sore, it might just be nerve damage and no worries! SHe had blood tested done and next thing I will do is check her veterinary history and see if she was scoped for ulcers or else.
Her owner (she is on trial with me now) said that she would take her back if her new life isn't suitable for her or if I decide to not have her. I decided to mix her with my horse right away as she comes from a very clean place with very healthy horses and she had many vet control checks.
Hi, Sorsiar:

I'm having some issues with the new forums on the site, and getting back to these forums. I'm not at all sure I like the new setup....anyway, enough complaining!

Some horses DO smell different, just like some people do. Their body chemistry is different, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with them. I have noticed NO correlation between different odours and ulcers. Some of them need their clothes laundered more often than others, just like people. For some it's seasonal, and for others it's year-round. Some quite healthy horses have manure which smells quite different, and some with chronic diarrhea, and clearly some kind of related gut problem, smell quite normal.

The patchy sweating is usually a sign of previous muscle damage. The thing you need to worry about much more is an absence of sweating, like dry patches under the saddle or bridle or breastplate/girth, not patches which sweat more easily.

I think that if the mare's working out for you in other respects I'd relax about those little oddities. Neither one would stop me from continuing with a horse I liked in other ways.
Thank you for your advices. I got used to her smell now and the sweaty spot is no concerned from the Vet.
So far, she is very lovely and I really enjoy her and riding her. She loves going in water and she is a good companion. But yesterday for the first time I went riding and I left her alone for an hour....she pulled some good portion on wood on my friends' rails...this is making me quite concerned. All we have at my place are NEW wooden rails!

I have heard lots of "anti-cribbing" things that I could try so far!
This is my idea:
-shooting the "water gun" to her everytime she does it. Someone told me the be-bee gun, but I thing this is way too rough!! man...cow-boys around here have weird ideas...

When I am not there, I do not want to put her that "heavy anti-cribbing" mask, it is heavy, she hates it and roll a lot to get rid of it. Then she ends up hurting herself. What about a collar?

I just talked to my sister in Law in Alberta and she is telling me that The new Cribbing mare might teach my horse to crib...! So far, he doesn't do it. I don't think he likes it...anyway, he tempted to push her away when she does it!
There is no way I want him to be tempted to learn that!!! I trust your advices and I think you know better!! after all the years you have spent with show horses and others issues.
I am considering the ulcer scope and her ex-owner would participate to the cost of it too.

Have you ever seen those cribbing collars in action? Are they all "torture" machines or what?


Thank you for advices if you have seen those collars before.
Happy sunny day!
HI, Sorsiair:

I wouldn't bother with the water gun approach - that's like trying to stop a drug addict with a water pistol. It's irritating for everyone, and completely useless. A BB gun is utterly inhumane, and could injure her or blind her. Anyone who suggests such a thing deserves a kick where it counts!

The only cribbing collar I use, if I use one at all, is the Weaver collar, which is quite humane compared to most. I prefer not to use a collar, but it sounds to me more like she was chewing on the rails, not like she was cribbing. It's unusual for a horse to do that much damage in an hour unless they're actively chewing, rather than cribbing. If she's chewing, a collar won't make any difference. There are a couple of things which can: you can put an electric wire along the top of your fence lines; you can paint the top rails with something noxious, like used motor oil (which you can usually get free from your local mechanic), Raplast, Bitter Apple, etc.; or you can put a metal rail along the top of the fence lines.

Alternatively, (I hate the cribbing muzzles too) you can put her in a grazing muzzle. That stops the cribbing, she can still eat hay and grass through it, and it's transportable, for when you leave her at a friend's for an hour! She shouldn't wear it 24 hours per day, daytimes are usually enough, but it will help.

What you need to understand is that cribbing releases endorphins, and the horse experiences a feeling of well-being and relaxation from doing it. Chewing, on the other hand, is usually related to a lack of palatable fibre, and is often worst in fall and spring, when the grass is not great and the weather is damp. Chewing can only be prevented by ensuring that the horse has an alternate chewing source (like hay), and by protecting the rails with electricity or by painting them with something very unappetizing.

Keep us posted!
Gracias Jan,
She has tons of hay and grass, and shed (and too many rails around) and the whole VIP services here. She was just doing that I thing, because I was gone. Not much damages, just cribbing and pulling more I guess to the point the wood got damaged more this time. I have a cribbing mask, but I notice that she manage to still do it through the holes and it is soo heavy that I really don't like it.
I will look at the weaver collar you mentioned (maybe only for when I go riding and she is left alone).
Maybe I thought about spicy pepper on the rails for now and chicken metal proof for protection on wood. As it is not my place, I would better do that on my place for this winter + electricity on top of all my rails.

I understand the process of endorphins and how much this works like a drug on her...like she needs to have a cigarette or something!!... ha ah.

Thank you !!!
My friend had a horse that cribbed like mad! He did stop but i took 2 years of patients, she continued to show him but he was out for at least 10 hrs a day and she got him a lick-it and a jolly ball for inside... he enjoyed both of these and eventually just quit cribbing!
Great idea!! Thank you for the advices. I believe that the mare I have has slowed down to cribbing only while she eats... when she eats (hay or grain) by the barn when closed to wood or posts. I cannot use collar on her, as she does it anyway and then it gives her really sore neck and head problems. I have other plans that I hope will work. She is of course never going to be indoor or locked in a box again with me. This is what I promised her! I will give her that life that she always wanted to and I hope my gelding will keep pushing her away when she does it and that with all my new "tricks" she will maybe stop completely one day. She is fantastic to ride and so happy to go ahead and alone on any trails in the forest. For a horse that only did arena works all her life, she is really amazing that way.
I found that music helps her lots, Horses love music! Just like Cows, it helps them to relax. We installed large speakers in the new outdoor shed/barn (now I have to find the right radio channel). lol.
I also ordered them a slow feeder (natural feeder) and hope it will keep them busy all day...
Keep me posted with new tricks!

Updates on the cribbing mare:

I kept her as busy as I could all winter long with walks on leash on the worst weather and every time she needed to "smoke" or "have a cigarette" (cribbing)  after and between her grain, I was standing by her 'ashtray' as I call it...and was petting her instead...she was pulling ears back a lot, but understood that as I long as I was around, she could not do it, then I would push her towards the fresh hay stack and then she would forget about smoking...I condemned all her favorite Cribbing spots as much as I could, so she had to make new ones. Some days, she wouldn't even bother making a new ashtray...and go back to her grain. 

That is some of the tricks I used.

She still does it here and there and I trully believe her behaviour in general is much more mellow, she is trusting me way more now. She is more 'jealous' than she used to be (in a good way) and comes towards us more to get pet. I think she is on the right track. She appreciate our company around way more than before. Her anxiety level seems like it is getting way better. I don't believe in those collars anymore (at least not for her), nothing worked. This makes them more nervous, anxious and unhappy than anything and create a vicious circle. I believe that dealing with their anxiety level is the best way. Spending lots of time with them is the key. With all this new grass around now and the different pastures she is moving into (5 different paddocks through the week), it makes it a new interesting life and lots to discover still. 

If you have horse who smokes, no big deal I think...just gotta replace the cigarette with some love, patience & interest. 


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