What is cribbing/windsucking? Why do horses do it, with Andrew McLean
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What is cribbing/windsucking? Why do horses do it, with Andrew McLean

August 31, 2019


Windsucking is known as a stereotypical behavior because it’s one of those cyclical behaviors that once they start is very hard to change it. People put collars on their neck and all sorts of devices, but the thing is it’s a, it’s a coping mechanism, and they do it because they need to let off the stress. Now the cause of it is definitely related to lack of forage, lack of movement and lack of company in the early life and as I said once it starts it’s hard to change. However people are also very nervous of it And they shouldn’t be because the thing about windsucking is that it isn’t something that’s directly transferred to other horses. People wonder whether their horse is going to learn to windsuck from another horse, and the answer is no. They don’t learn to do it, however if the other horse in the paddock is similarly stressed and he’s also genetically wired to windsuck because some breeds, some horses, some individuals will never do it. For example it’s much less prevalent in ponies, but if they’re wired to windsuck then they’re more likely to start, but those horses probably would have started in the first place So it really isn’t a problem if your horse is not wired to windsuck or crib bite the thing is he just won’t do it and it doesn’t matter if he does and the other good thing about wind suckers that I think that people don’t utilize and that is that horses that show stereotypical behaviors tend to have a higher level of perseverance than other horses. In other words once they form a habit, they’re really good at maintaining it and that’s part of the reason why neurologically they do learn to windsuck in the first place because they have this degree of perseverance. So that usually means they’re going to be a good school horse And they’re going to retain what they do and they’ll keep on doing it and it’s going to be hard to break that habit. So in terms of a riding horse, I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all in fact my best three-day event horse was a very severe wind sucker and it didn’t affect him one bit and once I took his collar off he windsucked his little heart out and that have made no difference to me and probably made a great difference to his life because he was able to do it. you

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  1. Thank you!
    For once some CORRECT information on windsucking!
    I have always found that you will have a much happier healthier horse if you just let them do it!

  2. A very good overview but I feel Andrew doesn't acknowledge the genetic influence enough. I have several windsuckers as I don't discriminate against them-a good horse is a good horse regardless of whether it windsucks-but some of these are, and have always been, some of the most stress-less I've known. There are genetic links in many line crossings of horses. I would like to see collars banned or certainly discouraged as wearing these are most likely what causes the stress!

  3. I think wind suckers are more intelligent than your average horse however one of my wind suckers has almost no front teeth. Is this a problem?

  4. I have had a wind sucker, that would just stand in the middle of his field and happily gulp away with never a health problem or concern. Now I have a cribber, and it drives me insane, not only does it damage wooden fences, its horribly hard on her teeth, and she will give up food to do it. I would take a wind sucker over a cribber in a heart beat…. moreso because of the damage that cribbers do to their teeth and their own health.

  5. I have a very devoted cribber who likes to crib after his meals, he's basically having a smoke after dinner, seems rather gentlemanly. When I bought this horse I foolishly stabled him for six weeks in a box stall until we could find the right accommodation and he cribbed non stop. Moved him to a big open paddock with some neighbors and cribbing went way down. I don't mind it at all, and it's great that cribbers tend to go for significantly lower prices.

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