Crib Biting and Wind Suckers- Some Ideas To Cure This Vice
It is difficult to work out why some horses are more prone to stable vices than others. It is possible to discourage crib-biting, but a total cure is rare and you may find that a horse that appears to stop will often start again when he feels stressed or unhappy.
Many horses crib-bite all their lives with few ill effects, however this behaviour can cause digestive problems and possibly weight loss or colic.
The main concern is that the incisor teeth sometimes wear unnaturally thin and in extreme cases, they may no longer meet correctly when the horse’s mouth is closed, which then makes grazing difficult.
By establishing a good daily routine for a biter and with clever use of some of the deterrents we discuss here, you should be able to discourage crib-biting.
Beware of Dangerous Timber Treatments
It is important that you do not have your horses stabled inside a timber loose box that has been constructed with tanalised treated timber containing arsenic, copper and zinc. This is because they are extremly toxic chemicals within the treatment used. If your horses are chewing and sucking away at that highly dangerous chemicaly treated wood, then you could risk them having stomach problems at first and potentially more serious health issues in the future.
If possible when puting up new stables, find a supplier that will use an animal friendly treatment. If this is unavoidable, make sure that your new stables are fully lined with structural grade plywood and all exposed edges around the doorways are protected with moulded metal chewstrips.
Ideas to Reduce Cribbing
Boredom or stress is often thought to be major factors in stable vices. If possible, turn your horse out by day to allow him the freedom to graze and play.
By running a line of electric fencing along the top of your post and rail fencing or sectioning off an area of field with portable electric fencing will stop your horse from having anything to grasp hold of in order to be able to crib-bite.
It is essential that you ensure that the possibility of vices being copied by keeping wind suckers and crib biters out of direct sight of other horses on the yard. Like children learn by copying others, so do horses. Be mindful of this, It could save you a lot of trouble.
Fit a stallion grill or an anti-weave grill on to the front of your stable door. This will stop your horse from being able to get his teeth at the timber stable wall and Door Frame edges. A stallion grill does however, have the negative effect of preventing the horse looking out over the stable door and increasing boredom.
It pays to have metal chew-strips fitted to the front of your new stable doors and have metal door frame protection fitted to the edges of the stable door opening.An extra long chewstrip that is fitted down the front of the stable door is also a good idea as it will prevent your horse from dragging his teeth up the front of the stable door.As mentioned earlier, when you purchase your new timber stables, ensure that you ask for your stables to be fully lined with structural grade plywood also. This will stop crib-bitters from chewing on the vertical supports of the stable, this will not only give your horse potential stomach problems, but if allowed to continue, could also reduce the structural stability of your new timber stables.
You could also consider trying your horse in a wind suck or crib-bite collar. The collar works by causing discomfort when the horse attempts to arch his neck in order to suck in and swallow air, which helps prevent the vice.
Paint any areas of your stables which cannot be protected with a specially-made preparation that discourages crib-biting. They can be easily obtained from most equestrian outlets.
Relieve stable boredom by introducing toys to occupy your horse. Try smearing them with treacle or molasses, or attaching a favourite treat to add interest.
If possible, split your horse’s daily hay ration into smaller but more frequent hay-nets, to keep her busy.
Finally, make sure your horse is exercised regularly and sufficiently. Make your horses work interesting and varied. If he’s not bored and is content, he is less likely to crib-bite.
The Stable Doctor
Advice is given without legal responsibility