A SPECIAL POST BY MARIJKE VAN DE WATER, B.Sc., DHMS, Equine Health & Nutrition Specialist
Cribbing – Vice or Pain?
Cribbing is the term we use to describe the behavior wherein horses grasp stationary objects with their upper teeth, arch their necks and swallow or suck in air. Cribbing, although on occasion is habitual and/or behavioral, is almost always a sign of stomach distress.
Horses most often begin to crib in an effort to alleviate stomach discomfort from indigestion, nausea and/or burning. These symptoms are frequently caused by the overfeeding of starches and/or proteins which, over time, creates excess gastric (stomach) fermentation. This hampers both the digestive and buffering capabilities of the stomach and increases levels of unfriendly bacteria and acids damaging the interior of the stomach, resulting in gastritis, gas, acid, nausea and feelings of premature fullness.