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October 2021

Equine Vet J Suppl. 1998 Nov; (27): 35-8.

Prevention of crib-biting: a review.

McGreevy PD, Nicol CJ.

Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, UK.

Crib-biting is a common oral stereotype. Because of perceived deleterious effects on the health and appearance of subjects the prevention of crib-biting is regularly attempted. The resourcefulness of horses in satisfying their motivation to perform this behaviour often frustrates owners' efforts at prevention. This paper reviews the efficacy and observable consequences of attempting to prevent crib-biting by a variety of methods. These include attempts to prevent the grasping of objects, to interfere with air-engulfing and to introduce punishment for grasping and neck-flexion. Other approaches include the use of surgery, acupuncture, pharmaceuticals, operant feeding and environmental enrichment. A remedy that is effective for every crib-biter remains elusive. We conclude that, rather than concentrating on remedial prevention, further research should be directed at establishing why horses crib-bite and how the emergence of crib-biting can be avoided.

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