Sunday, April 11, 2010

Horses: Cribbing & Windsucking vs Wood Chewing

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.


  1. Sure, Fel. It's hard to explain much of anything in the chatroom because there always seem to be multiple conversations going on. It's hard to type and keep up with the reading at the same time.


    I posted that info I mentioned last night as well.

  3. And they always love fresh pine wood... Ours chewed up the slats in their stalls once. We feed them well with feeds that have the vitamins and minerals they need but we use to keep them in during bad weather. They all got busy!


  4. Welcome to my blog, Rebecca. It's amazing the damage one horse can do in just a few hours, huh? It's no wonder boarding stables always ask and most refuse to keep a cribber.