Q: I have heard of both cribbing and windsucking, but what is the difference between these two vices?
A: Cribbing is when a horse presses his top teeth on a stationary object like a fence plank, stall door or feed bin. The horse arches his neck and pulls back on the object while sucking air into his throat with a grunting sound, and then releases the air.
Cribbing is considered a vice, a negative behavior that is repeated over and over.
Cribbing can ruin fences and stall boards, and it can wear down a horse’s front teeth and prevent him from eating and gaining weight normally.
Cribbing is often associated with stress, and most horses begin cribbing as youngsters because they spend too much time in a stable and too little time outside nibbling on forage like grass or hay.
Once a horse picks up this behavior, it is almost impossible to stop, and he may have to wear a special collar that prevents him from stretching his neck muscles to crib.
Windsucking is a vice similar to cribbing, and the noise the horse makes is the same. But when a horse windsucks, he doesn’t grab on to an object with his teeth before sucking air into his throat. Windsucking is also difficult to stop once the behavior is established.
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2014 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!