Equusite.com > Equine Behavior > Stop Cribbing

Stop Cribbing
WRITTEN BY: Cheryl Sutor   [Nov 12, 2000]


Training Question:

How do you help prevent a horse from cribbing? Should I try to stop her?

From: Jane


Trainer's Response:

The good news is that there are many products and methods to use to attempt to stop a horse from cribbing. The bad news, is that there is no "sure-fire" way to stop the behavior. You can try to prevent her form cribbing, however, there are downfalls to using each of the products or methods, and none of them work on all horses. So, I'd suggest you experiment with each, to see if any work. If any single product or method does not work, you might want to "mix-and-match" to find something that may work.

There are many products that can be used for horses that crib. Some are straps that are placed around the horse's throat area, these are called "cribbing straps". Cribbing straps can be found at most tack stores. The strap does not hurt the horse, and does not interfere with eating or breathing. What it is designed to do is put pressure on the horse's throat when he/she begins to crib. For some horses, this is all that is needed to stop cribbing, as the pressure on their throat becomes annoying to them.

However, I have seen a low success rate with the use of a cribbing strap alone. Many horses are very tolerant to the pressure on their throat and will continue cribbing anyway. So, you can also try a product that is applied to the surfaces that the horse uses to crib. These are usually provided as sprays or clear paints that are non-toxic to the horse, and they taste horrible. So, when the horse puts his/her mouth on (for example) his grain bin to crib, he will dislike the taste and stop cribbing.

There is also a downfall to using this product and that is that you most likely will have to re-apply it to the surfaces often, as it may wear off. You may not even be able to use a product like this if you keep the horse at a boarding farm, depending on the farm's rules. And, it will only stop the horse from cribbing in the areas that you apply it. So, if you take your horse to another stall or area, she may begin cribbing again.

Another method to stop your horse from cribbing is to teach her that it is unpleasant. As of right now, she gets some type of pleasure from it, and that's why she continues to do it. However, to train your horse to stop cribbing is almost impossible (unless you live in the pasture or stall with your horse) since it would involve you being there 24x7 to reprimand the horse every time he tries to crib. If you are not there 24x7 to reprimand the horse consistently, do not reprimand the horse at all...there is no point. It is VERY time consuming, if not impossible.

To teach her to stop cribbing, you must be able to react to her cribbing EVERY time she tries to do it. If you react to her cribbing, by for example, flicking her muzzle with your finger, she learns that when she opens her mouth to crib, she experiences an unpleasant feeling. However, if you do this for 5 minutes while standing with her in her stall, and then walk away and come back the next day, she only learns that cribbing is unpleasant when you are present. So, if you don't have the time to stay with your horse 24x7 until he learns that cribbing is completely unacceptable, then it would be useless to try "training" him to stop cribbing!

I hope this helps clarify the options that are out there, and I hope one of these products or methods work for you and your horse!


Happy Horsin'
Cheryl Sutor



Comments On This Article

Click here to read or post comments on this article


Send This Article To A Friend
Your Name: Friend's Name:
Your Email: Friend's Email:
Message To Your Friend: (optional)  



All content on this website is Copyrighted © 1997-2002, Cheryl McNamee-Sutor,
unless otherwise noted on individual pages or images on this site. All Rights Reserved.
This article was published on: Nov 12, 2000. Last updated on: Nov 12, 2000.