Tag Archives: Cribbing

Equine Teeth Do What?!

The other day I was outside with a girlfriend and her two boys (6 ft apart) as they were feeding one of my miniature donkeys, Trou, a carrot. They turned and said, “That one is missing a tooth!” I smiled and upon realizing that they said went over to look for myself. Sure enough my Trou has a cracked, half missing tooth! I did a quick check- no cuts, swelling, abrasions, no puffiness, heat, and he did not seem to be in any pain. I called the vet and explained what was going on and that I needed them to come out to pull my donkey’s tooth since it was cracked so close to the gum line (like a human would have done). They came out two days later and simply said “it will grow back.” I was completely shocked! “It will what?!” The vet explained that equine (horse, mule, donkey) teeth grow. They have a very long root that as the tooth wears down, it continues to grow. I asked why a horse that cribs ends up having nubs for teeth. The vet explained that due to cribbing a horse will use up their “reserve” faster than most other horses so by the time they hit their late 20’s they no longer have any growth left. Sure enough, a week later, I checked on Trou’s tooth and it was almost back to normal!

For more information on equine teeth click on the link below:


Let Cribbers Crib?!

Study: Cortisol and Noncribbing Cribbers

By Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA Oct 14, 2014

Study: Cortisol and Noncribbing CribbersHorses that crib have higher stress levels when they’re not cribbing, Briefer Freymond said.

Photo: Photos.com

Back in 2011 an equine ethicist suggested thatcribbers should be allowed to crib. That it could actually do them some good (provided it’s not causing colic or severe dental damage, of course). That cribbing might be a coping mechanism for these horses, faced with stress, and that stopping horses from doing it might even be cruel.

Now, at the 2014 International Society for Equitation Science conference, held Aug. 6-9 in Bredsten, Denmark, a Swiss research team has brought science-based evidence to support that claim: In a study evaluating the stress parameters in cribbers versus noncribbers, the scientists found significant differences in stress responses. Most of all, they found that the cribbers that did not crib during their test had the highest stress levels.

“Crib-biting might be a successful coping strategy that helps horses gain control over situations and reduces cortisol levels,” said Sabrina Briefer Freymond, MSc, of the Agroscope Swiss National Stud Farm in Avenches. Cortisol is the “stress hormone” that researchers use to analyze stress levels.

“Preventing crib-biters from crib-biting could be counterproductive because this behavior seems to have some beneficial feedback for horses,” Briefer Freymond said.

In their study the researchers investigated 22 cribbers and 21 noncribbers of varying breeds, sexes, and ages. Horses stayed in their home stalls for the full study period (less than four hours). The researchers measured cortisol levels, evaluated horse behavior, and recorded heart rates for 15 minutes before starting an “ACTH challenge test.”

An ACTH challenge test is a relatively new scientific method for studying stress levels in animals. In the test, the researchers inject the horses with a small dose of synthetic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). The brain’s pituitary gland produces ACTH naturally, which stimulates the release of several hormones, including cortisol. For years veterinarians have used ACTH challenges to test for Cushing’s disease, as indicated by a low cortisol response. Recently, researchers have discovered that the challenge can also reveal high stress response when high amounts of cortisol are released.

Once the team injected the study horses with ACTH, they observed the animals for three hours. They recorded behaviors and heart rates and measured cortisol levels by saliva sample every 30 minutes.

The team found no significant differences in heart rate, heart rate variability, or behavior (except cribbing, of course) between the cribbers and noncribbers, Briefer Freymond said. However, they noted a significant difference in cortisol levels between the groups: Overall, cribbers had 25% more cortisol in their saliva than noncribbers.

Some of the cribbers did not crib at all during the three hours after the ACTH challenge, she added. And these horses actually had the highest cortisol levels of all—38% higher than the noncribbers. In fact, when these horses were taken out of the calculation, the cortisol levels between cribbers that cribbed and noncribbers were fairly similar.

It seems that the horses that crib have higher stress levels when they’re not cribbing, Briefer Freymond said. Many of the cribbers have low cribbing frequencies, sometimes only one hour a day, and it’s possible that in between cribbing episodes their stress levels increase, she said. Why the horses were not cribbing during the study period to release their stress is not clear, she added, as they were not prevented from cribbing.

Further research will aim towards a better understanding of the relationship between cribbing and stress release.

From Sunset Beach to Take A Chance

I purchased Chance from a farm in Middleburg, Virginia.  I remember the first time I saw him- this big 17.1 hand, 10 year old, chestnut thoroughbred gelding.  He had these sad big brown eyes that made me instantly fall in love. I got on him and we cantered around a field together and over a handful of jumps.

We vetted him and trailered him back to the farm in Lorton, Virginia.

Immediately upon his arrival, we all noticed that this horse was scared of everything! He was a cribber. He was constantly hurting himself.  And he refused to pick up his left lead.

We began working with our trainer- mostly on our flatwork- and he loved to rear! Yay! (note sarcasm). He hated trail riding and riding in the field.  What horse dislikes being ridden in a huge green field!?  We managed to jump a bit here and there.  Every time we made progress, Chance would get hurt!  Colic, a huge gash above his eye, a hurt leg- you name it, he had it/did it/hurt it.

After much consideration, I decided that I should lease him out so that he would have more time under the saddle.  Next, we decided to try Dressage to build up his back muscles.  We worked with an awesome trainer, actually two, who were pretty well known in the Dressage world.  And, honestly, Chance was amazing at Dressage!  And what a difference it made! I began to actually enjoy riding him!  He was much calmer and easier to handle.

I left to goto college and a few weeks later Chance came to meet me.  My poor trainer trailered Chance the 4 hours and it took much longer than expected because of the directions! Chance’s behaviors were all over the place.  The only stable with availability was one the held a rodeo on the weekends.  It was great fun, but Chance was not a fan of the bulls.  We ended up moving to another facility where he was receiving training and I was receiving lessons.  That soon stopped because of the frequent encounters with lameness and back issues.

That summer I went home and decided to leave him at vet2’s stable where he would have 24 hour care and someone who knew him well. Plus, maybe a break would do him some good.  However, after that summer he was officially retired.

I moved him to another stable closer to school.  It was a perfect place- a three stall barn, with individual runs, and big green pastures. He soon fell in love with the mare there and was content.

Thankfully, after graduation, I was able to leave him at this farm while I completed my Masters degree and almost finish my Doctorate.  Without the care the farm’s owner extended to Chance (and the care extended to me as well), I have no idea what I would have done. The truth is though, I wasn’t able to make the drive as frequently as I would have liked with school and everything…4 hours there and 4 hours back in one day… I had always envisioned bringing Chance home upon graduation….

Chance lived there for almost 8 years.  He had flare ups of Lymphangitis and would stock up if left inside.  The symptoms were treated with each episode but the flare ups would continue and each episode would last a couples days and was manageable with medication. The mistake I made was instead of doing my own research about Lymphangitis, I took the vet’s word for it.  I was under the impression that Lymphangitis was more of a disease instead of a symptom.  If I had only done my homework I would have known that is was in fact the symptom of a much larger problem.

The day "Sunset Beach" became "Take A Chance"

The day “Sunset Beach” became “Take A Chance”