How to Keep a Horse from Cribbing

Cribbing is a serious addiction that affects many horses. The horse will lick or chew any wood structure, then inhale deeply, activating drug-like hormones. Not only does this destroy your barn, but your horse can actually rupture his stomach if he breathes in too much too quickly.


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    Prevent boredom. Cribbing is often associated with boredom, so consider turning your horse out more with some other playful horses. Or, make his stall more interesting with some stall toys or constant access to quality forage. However, if your horse has been cribbing for a while, he may prefer to crib than play or eat.
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    Try a cribbing collar. These can be purchased at your local tack store, and are attached tightly around your horse's upper neck. They prevent your horse from breathing in very deeply, so he can no longer get the effect he seeks when he cribs. When he finds that there is no way to get high, he will stop chewing. However, he will never be cured, so he has to wear this collar whenever he is in his stall or turned out (if he cribs during turn-out). Be sure to remove the collar he is exercising, though, or he could potentially suffocate.
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    Use an anti-cribbing feed supplement. These are quite simple: just scoop the right amount onto his feed once or twice a day. You might still want to use these in conjunction with another method, though, to guarantee success.
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    Try making it impossible for your horse to crib by tying stiff brushes (brush side up) on your horse's usual cribbing areas. They can't crib on something that isn't solid, and the bristles will give them a little reminder poke when they try to crib anyway. You could also try painting anti-chew treatment on the cribbed surfaces, or lining the surfaces with metal, as some horses find the metal uncomfortable to bite.
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    As feeding forage ad lib is not always possible, try putting their hay into a hay net with really small holes to keep them chewing for longer. Due to the way they have evolved, horses have a psychological need to chew almost constantly, but they should not be chewing on something that isn't edible.
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    Another option is putting a muzzle on the horse while in the stall (except at meal times), which will make it virtually impossible for the horse to grab objects to crib on.
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    If your horse is at the end stall in the aisle, trying moving him/her to a busier spot in the stable to prevent boredom. But don't try this with everything, as where their stall is might not be the problem.


  • Do not try to physically punish your horse for cribbing. As it is an addiction, yelling at him or hitting him will have little or no effect on his behavior. It's a lot like telling a person to quit smoking, and expecting them to just stop forever.
  • Cribbing is a natural way for your horse to relieve gastric discomfort. Therefore, stop the source of the problem (food/environment). Anything else is just treating the symptoms.
  • Rub non-toxic soap on the surfaces he or she chews on. The taste will discourage him, reapply often until he stops.


  • It's important to treat the cause of the behavior rather than only preventing it as this can cause more psychological distress to the horse.
  • Since cribbing is an addiction, if you try to stop your horse from doing it too fast, his health and/or temperament could change, and not necessarily for the better.
  • Cribbing can and probably will cause colic, so try to stop it early!

Things You'll Need

  • Stall toys
  • Cribbing collars
  • Anti-cribbing feed supplements
  • Anti-chew wood products
  • Muzzle
  • Cribbing strap

Article Info

Categories: Horses