Although I did jump today (I cantered through a six stride line in a beautiful, collected seven strides!), that’s not what I want to talk about tonight.
I even got to have a shower in the new wash rack that they finished building at my barn (two weeks before I leave! Go figure… That’s just my luck!) But that’s not what I want to talk to you about, either.
Tonight, I want to talk to you about a very serious problem that afflicts many of us horses.
Tonight, I want to talk to you about cribbing. Some of you probably already know what that means; for those of you who don’t, I am going to give you as much information as I can. That way, you can get the help you need.
Now, I just want to say, if any of you have this problem – it’s not your fault. And if your humans are willing, you can get help.
Cribbing is an addiction. It doesn’t always start out that way, but once you start, it’s almost impossible to stop. I’m going to explain it to you for purely educational purposes; please do not try this at your own barn.
Cribbing is when you clamp your teeth down on something – usually the wooden fence rail – arch your neck, and suck in air. It releases endorphins, which basically make you feel… really good. Happy, I guess you could say. Endorphins are the same things that make you happy after a really good workout with your human (that, and pride). But exercising is a healthy way to get those endorphins; cribbing is not.
You see, cribbing is very bad for your teeth and your digestive system. It can cause ulcers – painful holes in the lining of your stomach – and it can even cause you to colic. If any of you have ever had colic, you know that it’s not only painful, it’s also potentially deadly. But try eating a crunchy carrot or some grain when your teeth are messed up and falling out from cribbing!
I have a friend… we’ll just call him “Jeremiah.” And this friend of mine… he cribs. He cribs all day, every day. He cribs in the paddock. He even cribs on the divider between his stall and his neighbor’s stall.
I was never allowed to be near him in the paddock because my Mommy didn’t want him teaching me to crib.
So, you may be wondering what we can do about this. What can we do to help our friends who have this problem?
Well, there’s not much we can do, except to make sure their humans know what’s going on. And don’t worry, you won’t be betraying their trust by “telling on them.” You’ll be betraying them as a friend if you don’t tell on them.
Humans sometimes try to buy a special collar, called a “cribbing collar,” to prevent this compulsive behavior. But those collars only stop you from being able to suck in air – they don’t stop you from biting down and going through the motions. So they eliminate the immediate threat of colic, but you can still ruin your teeth… and the paddock fences.
Humans also sometimes buy nasty tasting stuff to put on the fences or the stall, which is supposed to prevent cribbing because it tastes and smells so awful. But an addict is an addict, and they will often learn to like the taste (or at least tolerate it), just so they can crib again.
“Jeremiah’s” Mommy spared no expense to make sure Jeremiah got the help he needed. My Daddy and Mr. Phil worked together to fix the problem. I saw them working on Jeremiah’s paddock.
When I asked my Daddy what he was doing, he told me that he was putting a “hot wire” around the perimeter. The “hot wire” is a wire that gives an electric shock if you touch it… and they put it around the very top edge of the fence. So, if Jeremiah were to crib, there’s no way he would be able to do it without getting shocked.
I thought it was a pretty good idea, even though I feel bad for Jeremiah if he shocks himself! I’ve been shocked by electric fences before, and it really hurts.
Anyway, tomorrow is the big day: Daddy will turn the “hot wire” on and we’ll see if it stops Jeremiah from cribbing. I’ll let y’all know how it goes!
Until then, please be careful and don’t try cribbing. It’s not worth it! You never know, you could be the kind of horse who gets addicted after only trying it once. Take my word for it; it’s just not worth it.
I’m always here if any of you need to talk. I won’t judge you, even if you have been cribbing.
Alright, friends. I’m going to go hit the shavings now. I’ll catch y’all tomorrow!