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I'm moving my 13 year old (pregnant) Trakehner mare to a new barn, a mare motel set-up, and one available stall is next to a cribber. The owners of this horse do not believe in the cruel use of a cribbing collar or any device, hence the horse cribs like a major addict.

What are the chances of my mare picking up this addictive habit?

Thanks for your input.

- A. W.


two horses scratching each other There does seem to be some validity to cribbing being "contagious." Personally, I think it's because horses tend to mimic each other's behavior for mutual aid. Watch a horse with an itch. It will walk up to a herdmate, facing the opposite direction. The one with the itch will start to nibble the herdmate in a spot corresponding to the itchy place, and the second horse will respond by nibbling at the itch. Apply that dynamic to cribbing: the second horse only understands that the first horse "wants" it to nibble on the fence. Upon doing so, it learns that it's a pleasurable experience, and gets hooked.

Perhaps cutting off visual contact will help -- maybe by lining the stall walls with heavy canvas. And, of course, there's the possibility that your horse may be one of those who seem to be "immune" to cribbing.

Happy Horse Care!

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