Horse cribbing is an obsessive compulsive behavior. Your horse will bite down on a stationary object, arch his neck, pull backwards, swallow air and grunt.
Cribbing causes a release of endorphins which stimulates the pleasure center of your horse’s brain. This is why it is such an addictive habit…and so hard to break. But cribbing can lead to poor digestion, equine colic and dental problems.
Why Do Horses Crib?
There is no definitive answer, but it’s thought that horses crib due to an inherited susceptibility to stress, improper diet or feeding practices or boredom.
Limiting a horse’s ability to graze can cause stress but not all horses crib under these and other stressful conditions. A genetic tendency towards stress may explain the difference.
Many cribbers are fed concentrated, high-energy rations which they consume quickly, leaving them with lots of energy, but little to do. Horses raised on pasture, grazing continually on high-fiber, low-energy feed, are less likely to develop these habits.
In the wild, horses keep themselves occupied by wandering and grazing. The domesticated horse, stabled and scheduled, may satisfy his grazing instincts and alleviate boredom by substitute behaviors such as horse cribbing. Behaviors become repetitive and may continue after the the stress or boredom is relieved.