Though the terms 'cribbing' and 'windsucking' meant two different things 40 years ago, they seem to be commonly accepted as interchangeable these days. What I have always called a cribber is a wood chewer in today's horse world. Wood chewing is a very destructive habit. A horse learns to chew wood for one of three reasons ...actual hunger where there is not enough roughage in his diet, or a mineral deficiency where even a horse that appears to be well-fed craves wood or, finally, out of sheer boredom. Horses that are stalled for long periods of time are very prone to developing bad habits such as wood chewing.
The following video is an example of the damage a wood chewing horse can cause:
Windsucking, or cribbing as it is also called these days, is when a horse hooks his teeth onto a solid object like fence rail or post and gulps air. Horses generally learn to windsuck from watching other horses do it. He gets an endorphine rush from the act so it quickly becomes a habit.
The following video is an example of a horse windsucking.
Both cribbers and windsuckers are extremely destructive to wooden structures in their environment and to themselves. A horse's teeth naturally wear down through it's lifetime. The act of wood chewing or wind sucking causes excessive wear to a horse's teeth. Lack of good tooth surface affects a horse's ability to eat and maintain a healthy weight which ultimately affects their longevity and quality of life.
In my experience, once a cribber (windsucker), always a cribber. There are special collars that make it uncomfortable or impossible for a horse to achieve his endorphine high from windsucking, but I have never known anyone who claims to have cured the habit with the collar. The horse may not crib with the collar on, but they cannot wear it 24/7 so the habit is never broken.
Because horses are almost always in a herd situation and other horses will learn the habit from a cribber, many boarding stables will not accept a horse that is a known cribber. Many individual owners will not buy or keep a horse that cribs. Yeoldfurt and I adhere to that philosophy. Since our horses have turnout nearly 24/7, are well-fed and are not stalled except for feeding time, they are never likely to develop cribbing or windsucking on their own and we would never bring a horse home that would teach them such a destructive habit.