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March 27, 2013

Why do horses crib?

by DePaolo Equine Concepts
Often people think that horses crib due to boredom.  In reality, horses crib to help with pain most commonly from ulcers.  Cribbing does two things:
  1. Cribbing releases endorphins which are the most powerful natural pain relief a body can produce.
  2. Cribbing increases the production of saliva which is a buffer for excess stomach acid.  In horses, stomach acid is produced 24/7 but saliva is only produced when a horse is chewing.  This is why so many of our domestic horses suffer from ulcers.  
What to do for a cribbing horse?
  1. Adjust your feeding program to have plenty of long stem fiber (hay) for the horse to eat throughout the day.  For more information on proper nutrition, please visit our Health Library Article.
  2. Palpate acupressure points for ulcers and then treat accordingly.  Please visit our YouTube Channel for instructions.
How to treat ulcers?
  1. Start with 10 days of an Omiprazole™ product.  It reduces acid production while neutralizing acid in the stomach and intestines.  It also acts as an antacid and anti-diarrheal.  Experienced compounding pharmacies are beginning to offer less expensive generic versions of this drug, so consult your veterinarian.
  2. In addition, add a daily digestive supplement such as Excel.  This helps to soothe the entire digestive system (esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines and the colon), which aides in lessening the discomforts of digestive issues.  For more information on digestive health, please read our Health Library Articles on the subject.
Some horses will quit cribbing with treatment if they haven’t been doing it for very long but this activity is highly habit forming due to the endorphin release so even if the horse is cured from the ulcers, they might keep cribbing.  If your horse is still cribbing after successfully treating for ulcers, you could try a calming supplement such as Tranquility™.  The active ingredients encourage the brain to boost levels of serotonin in order to promote a feeling of wellbeing and calm.

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