Why Does My Horse Crib and How Do I Get Him to Stop?

Bizarre as many stereotypies seem, they are thought to originate from a normal behaviour that cannot be satisfied in the current environment. The thwarted attempt to satisfy this goal results in an abbreviated version of what was once a purposeful and normal activity. As the stress is prolonged, the behaviour becomes repetitive, invariant, and chronic. Cribbing seems to originate around frustrated feeding behaviour. Horses, designed to spend 16 to 20 hours a day grazing with their herd over huge territories on relatively poor-quality forage, have difficulty when housed alone in stalls and fed high-quality hay and grain at set intervals. Feed is consumed rapidly, leaving the horse with nothing to do. The motivational drive to graze remains but no longer has an outlet for expression, making your horse vulnerable to the development of stereotypies. As far as trying to get him to stop – don’t. Stereotypies are thought to become reinforcing…

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