South Shore Equine Clinic & Diagnostic Center
Equine Veterinary Services South Shore Boston Massachusetts

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My horse is a chronic cribber. I have tried everything, but nothing seems to work. Any ideas?

Answer:

Cribbing is a common vice in which horses grasp a solid object with their upper incisors, contract ventral neck muscles and arch their necks, retract their larynx and pull backward. Horses that swallow air during this maneuver are called "wind suckers". Cribbing is considered an unsoundness, causing excessive wear on the incisors and enlargement of ventral neck muscles. Horses with aerophagia may exhibit weight loss, unthriftiness, poor performance, digestive disturbances, and flatulence.

Cribbing can be corrected in many cases through surgical intervention, especially when nonsurgical management is unsuccessful. Surgery involves partial removal of two muscles and resection of a nerve that supplies a third muscle. Consequently, "wind sucking" becomes impossible for the horse.