HORSES THAT CRIB
QUESTION: We just yesterday purchased our first horse and he is chewing on everything in his stall and making these weird air sucking noises while holding onto things with his teeth. He is an older, well trained gelding who has always lived in a stall. Why is he doing this and how do we stop him?
ANSWER: If possible, return the horse and get your money back!!! Horses develop bad habits such as chewing and/or cribbing because they are BORED big time. They are kept in to small of an area and do not get enough exercise or turn out time from a barn stall.
Once the horse develops such a habit it can very hard to stop it. It is what the horse does because it it so mentally unhappy over an extended period of time.
If the horse is "Just" chewing wood, then this destructive habit is costly and not good for the horse. If the horse is actually "Cribbing" which means the horse fastens his teeth on the wood/something solid, then sucks in air through his mouth, then he can suffer devastating Colic plus other medical problems. So a "Cribbing" strap must be purchased and done up "Tightly" around his neck. Such a strap must be removed for riding or exercising. The best ones have a metal plate which fits at the bottom of the throat (neck). When the horse expands his throat muscles to wind suck, metal points irritate him so he stops.
The best thing for wood chewing horses or cribbers or any horse that has developed any bad habits from Boredom/Stress is to be turned out (preferably with other horses) in a large pasture with room to run and grass to nibble to counter act the Boredom.
Horses were meant to move around freely, not be confined to a boxstall or tiny pen. They are grazers and meant to nibble basically all day long as they move around freely. They are herd animals that are meant to interact with other horses freely.
Turning them out on pasture is by far the most humane way to make the horse happier. The Cribbing Strap may occasionally still be a necessity for long term Cribbers.