Widgets Jessica Jahiel's HORSE-SENSE Newsletter Archives

home    archives    subscribe    contribute    consultations   

Should I purchase a cribber!

From: Renee

Hi Jessica, A quick question for you. I found the perfect horse for me, who is a little older, bomb proof, great trail horse, to name a few. However, when I turned the horse out, he walked over to the fence and started to crib. My question is this, should I purchase a GREAT horse that is a cribber? Thanks a lot. Renee

Hi Renee! If this is a great horse, and he certainly does sound like a great horse, and if your vet likes him, don't let the cribbing stop you. You can minimize the cribbing by management - basically good horse management, nothing special or exotic. Be prepared to keep him outdoors as much as possible, keep hay in front of him whenever he's indoors. Don't feed a lot of grain - don't feed any grain unless he needs it, try to meet his nutritional needs with hay. Your vet can help you work out a good nutrition program.

Not very long ago, we thought that cribbing was a real problem - it wore down a horse's incisors and caused overdevelopment of some of the horse's neck muscles. That's all true, but - we also thought that horses swallowed air and could become predisposed to gas colic, and that, it seems, was wrong. There have been a number of recent studies that indicate NO connection between cribbing and gas colic - so we're back to the worn teeth and the neck muscles. You already know that you enjoy riding this horse and feel that he's perfect for you, so it's fair to assume that the neck muscles aren't a problem. As for the teeth, there may come a time when you have to shift him onto a complete pelleted feed along with his hay, just to be sure that he's getting all the nutrients he needs. But most horse-owners go to a good deal more trouble than that, trying to create the ideal diet for their horses, so I doubt this will involve a lot of extra effort on your part.

Cribbing begins as a horse's response to stress, and as the horse learns to cope with stress by producing endorphins through cribbing, it generally adopts the behaviour for life. However, it's not the sort of behaviour that endangers either the horse or his owner - it's just a sometimes-inconvenient behaviour that annoys some owners very much, and doesn't bother other owners at all. I can think of any number of behaviours I'd take much more seriously as "red flag" warnings - this one really comes down to personal preference. Don't buy him if cribbing makes you crazy, but if you don't mind, he sounds like a lovely horse.


If you keep him at home, you'll need to replace a fence board from time to time. If you board him elsewhere, be sure to let the boarding-stable owners know that he cribs, because some barn owners don't allow cribbers in their barns, either because of the annoyance of having to replace boards, or because they fear that other horses will "catch" the behaviour. That doesn't seem to be a problem, either, but you may not be able to convince a barn-owner.

Back to top.

Copyright © 1995-2017 by Jessica Jahiel, Holistic Horsemanship®.
All Rights Reserved. Holistic Horsemanship® is a Registered Trademark.

Materials from Jessica Jahiel's HORSE-SENSE, The Newsletter of Holistic Horsemanship® may be distributed and copied for personal, non-commercial use provided that all authorship and copyright information, including this notice, is retained. Materials may not be republished in any form without express permission of the author.

Jessica Jahiel's HORSE-SENSE is a free, subscriber-supported electronic Q&A email newsletter which deals with all aspects of horses, their management, riding, and training. For more information, please visit

Please visit Jessica Jahiel: Holistic Horsemanship® [] for more information on Jessica Jahiel's clinics, video lessons, phone consultations, books, articles, columns, and expert witness and litigation consultant services.