First things first – what’s the difference between windsucking and Cribbing?
Cribbing is when a horse grasps an object (like a fence, feeder bin or railing) between its teeth and pulls at the object whilst sucking in air creating a grunting sound.
Cribbing is considered bad behavior as it causes damage to the object and can wear down the horse’s front teeth and prevent it from eating properly. Cribbing can be picked up as a habit in foals from boredom in stalls and not having enough time to adventure and nibble on grass and hay. Cribbing is commonly adopted when horses are bored, hungry and lonely or are spending long periods of time in their stable.
Wind-sucking is when the horse arches its neck and sucks in air to its esophagus, which makes the same noise that is produced when cribbing and is also a hard habit to shake. The difference is the horse hasn’t gripped anything in its teeth whilst wind-sucking.
How can we prevent Cribbing?
Prevention is always better than finding a cure!
Avoid confining your horse for long periods of time, they are social animals so being around other horses and sometimes other animals, can reduce stress and loneliness. The more time they have to roam and run the more energy they burn, but if they still have excessive energy, you can also look into their diet and switch to something with fewer carbohydrates, resulting in less additional energy.
If you don’t have a choice but to keep your horse in its stable for more time than you both prefer, try providing some entertainment for your horse like hanging a bottle or treat in the door frame for them to play with or purchase specially designed gadgets and games for them.
How to protect your stable
Horses love chewing on the top of stable doors and the frames surrounding it, if your horse has taken a liking to your frames and door, try draping rubber mats or a generic material rug over the stables walls to prevent them from chewing your doors and frames. At Champion Stables, we use equiboard instead of ply. Equiboard is harder wearing and more durable as it’s a compressed plastic, this will help it stand up better to the rigors of a stable environment.
There are many products on the market to prevent cribbing. You can use a spray or paste and apply it to the surfaces that the horse chews on. They are non-toxic, don’t stain and washes off easily.