Cribbing is not a natural behaviour but rather a compulsive habit. It develops as a result of boredom or anxiety or a combination of the two; although not all bored or anxious horses develop this habit. It is most often seen in horses which are kept in their box for long periods and who consequently lack mental stimulation.
There have been claims that if a horse cribs, other horses will sometimes watch and eventually copy the behaviour. However, treating and curing this behavior as soon as possible.
Some people also claim that pain causes cribbing. These claims are based on the observation that horses that crib have a higher frequency of colic and ulcers than the normal horse population. Although analysis of various cases confirms the observation, the research suggests an alternative explanation: horses that have an unnatural feeding regime (e.g. grain rather than pasture, 1 or 2 feeds per day rather than multiple) are more likely to get ulcers or colic and are also more likely to develop cribbing due to the associated lack of mental stimulation. In other words, colic does not cause cribbing and cribbing does not cause colic, but both can be caused by unnatural feeding.
Cribbing can stem from several issues the most common being boredom from being confined to a stall for long periods of time, cribbing releases endorphins, research has also pointed to cribbing being the result of not enough forage in the horses diet and finally it could also be to relieve stress associated with gastric ulcers!! So to sum it up, horses NEED to be kept like horses, 24/7 turn out, 24/7 hay and/or pasture!!!!!!! Hope this helps:-)
Norman and waterfalls are correct. Latest research ties cribbing to horses that were fed high grain diets as youngsters. It is not a copied behavior so others won't pick it up. We have a cribber in my barn and used the miracle collar on him. 4 years later we no longer use the collar because he has stopped the behavior entirely and he's 31 yrs old so he's been doing it a long time.
As interesting as some of the speculations are regarding cribbing ...... Most are incorrect. Cribbing has nothing to do with boredom nor habits. Someone on this forum did hit close in discussing colic and lack of forage . Indigestion and gastric issues cause digestive issues which in turn cause the horse to suck ( crib ) forcing air or a burp up from his belly, hence the sound they make. Cribbing is not contagious and if it appears to be spreading in a boarding facility , most likely all of the horses are eating the same poor quality grain and hay. Dig into the research if you really want to know more about this occurrence. Your horses diet is not balanced. Treat him with any type of digestive pellets and supplements for 90 days THEN tell everyone it's a habit, you won't be able to because he most likely will have stopped once his nutrients are met. Younger vets are aware of this problem, it seems the older vets still stand by "boredom". Good day and good luck with your horse. We have successfully stopped 7 horses over a years time from cribbing. All of them bought to our facility and every one of them were diet deficient.