Cribbing Strap Failure

freedom's cribbing collar
Freedom’s cribbing collar hasn’t caused problems before but this morning it was obviously bothering him.

Freedom is a cribber. It’s controlled using a collar and so he’s worn one for the past few years almost all the time. I take it off whenever I’m at the barn to give him some time off.

But I didn’t make it to the barn yesterday. I don’t feed on Mondays and it was raining so I gave it a miss. Today I went over to ride before the farrier came. Immediately I could see something was wrong by the way he kept tilting his head. He let me put his halter on but he wouldn’t let me anywhere near the cribbing strap.

Poor boy. He wanted me to fix it. He kept putting his head up to my chest and nuzzling me, then flinging his head back and trying to rear if I tried to touch it. Although it had been put on using the same holes as usual (so not tighter) the rain and the heat must have caused it to rub.

Taking collar off
After Acing him I was able to get the strap partially undone. You can see that he looks sad.

Removing a cribbing strap from a horse that won’t let you touch it is difficult at best and dangerous at worse. I came up with two strategies: If I could get his head down the collar would loosen so I should be able to get it off easily. So my first attempt involved grass. Lots of grass. I brought him out to the large field and let him graze. Working sneakily, I was able to almost get the strap undone on the right side (he seemed more comfortable with me on the right).  Unfortunately, it was not enough to get it off.

Moving on to my second idea, I gave him some Ace. Then I left him to graze. After about 15 minutes, I tried again. I spent a good 10 minutes working my hand up closer to the loose strap knowing that it would take only seconds to release it. Each time as I got close, he’d jerk away.

Freedom grazing
I knew that getting his head down would loosen the collar. The trick was to get my hands on it long enough to get it off.

Onto my plan B. I called my vet and left a message. I felt stupid about needing a barn call to remove a cribbing strap but I thought that more sedation might be necessary.

Of course, seconds before she called me back, I got it off. The area around his poll looked raw and sore but should heal up pretty quickly. She told me that I wasn’t the first person who had to call her with cribbing collar problems. At least I got his off without injury to him or me.

I wish there was an alternative to keeping the collar on. The idea cribbing rings makes me cringe. For now I’ve left the collar off. I know he’ll crib overnight but so far it’s mostly destructive rather than dangerous. Knock on wood he hasn’t had any colic issues since I’ve owned him.

I’ve tried several different kinds of collars, even one with sheepskin on it. The one he’s been wearing is the Dare collar; in the past I’ve used the Miracle Collar.

Has anyone used a cribbing collar that works?

4 thoughts on “Cribbing Strap Failure

  1. Don’t have any experience with them other than a horse at my old barn flipping out when someone put a miracle collar on him :/

  2. We have a cribber, a really bad cribber. Tried collars but after a while he figured a way to carry on cribbing or wind sucking even with them on and yes they rub. Our boy actually had a cribbing muzzle when we bought him, he hated it and was very head shy, fortunately we were boarding somewhere where the owner was v. experienced and understanding she told us to leave it off and let him get on with it.

    Tried painting surfaces with anit-crib stuff like cribbox, works for a while, well he stops cribbing but wind sucks instead, then he just “mans up” to the taste and cribbs anyway.

    So we have a cribber and we let him crib but of course we try to manage it. Fairly simple during turnout, we’ve run a line of electric fence along the top of the posts and mostly he’d rather graze anyway. His stable is boarded out completely leaving nothing for him to grab hold of apart from the door. Yes he has made a mess of the door, but it’s one door and easily replaceable.

    We’re at our own facility now. Sadly, but understandably, most yard owners aren’t willing to put up with cribbers, other boarders can cause problems to. Assuring owners that you’ll foot the bill for any damage can help.

    There’s quite a bit of myth about cribbing and it’s difficult to get people to change their opinions but in my experience it’s a myth that other horses will copy cribbing, ours has, and does live along side a variety of other equines including youngstock and none of them have ever attempted to crib. He hasn’t colicked and from discussions with our vet I’m led to believe that cribbing doesn’t actually cause colic, there is always some other underlying cause. His front teeth are worn but our equine dentist assures me that this isn’t a problem.

  3. My mare is 16 years old. She was cribbing the day I met her at 4 months old. I believe she was weaned too early and kept stalled until I brought her home at 6 months old. I never got a handle on the issue. I tried everything that seemed “humane” — every collar there is, paints, supplements, hot wire fencing. Nothing stopped her. The Miracle Collar kept her from cribbing more than the others, but it would rub even with the soft sheep skin covers. Many years ago I left the collar on when it rained. After the rain soaked it, the sun baked it and it shrank around her throat. It was so tight it blocked her airway and she lost consciousness and fell over. My father got it off in the nick of time. I switched to the nylon type after that. She got such strong muscles from trying to crib with the collar on that eventually she could crib with the collar on as tight as it could get without harming her. Now she has hulk muscles on the bottom side of her neck, so much so that vets can never find her jugular to draw blood!
    I recently found what I hoped was a solution — an electric collar from Australia. The shock was mild and it didn’t have to be on tight. In my mind that was more humane that being frustrated with her habit all the time. The $170 collar didn’t phase her.
    I finally got a grazing muzzle that eliminated her ability to crib. She hated wearing it, so I taught her to seek the collar by rewarding her with treats every time she had to wear it. It only took a few sessions and she now dives into the mask.
    My mare gets 24/7 pasture with a relaxed herd (no social stress, no confinement), 24/7 access to high quality hay (no ulcers, natural diet and not lacking anything), and is exercised and played with several days per week. Her coping mechanism is deeply engrained. I’ve ruled out every other possibility. She’s simply addicted. It is a severely destructive habit. She’s broken more stall doors and fences than any other horse or boarder I’ve had at my facility. She’s pulled down boards and horses in her pasture have gotten themselves injured on the nails sticking out of the boards. So it’s not just a focused issue, it does affect others. But that’s her flaw and I try to accept it and manage it the best I can. She wears her cribbing mask off and on. She has a cribbing post in her pasture, so if I see her cribbing on a fence, I put the mask on.

    I empathize with anyone who has a cribber. It is tremendously frustrating. All we want is for our horse to thrive and here they are coping with something… And we can’t seem to help them.

    Good luck with your boy!

  4. I used the miracle collar customized with fuzzies. It stayed on all the time except when I was riding and it worked! Very little “rub” because of fuzzies, fashioned from old saddle pads. Years ago I heard an animal behavioral scientist on the Diane Rehm show who had isolated the spot in the brain responsible for the “reward” to cribbing , i.e. the release of endomorphins. When this “reward” section was disconnected, the cribbing stopped. Too bad this isn’t available to vets in the field.

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