Nothing is more disconcerting to horse owners than a horse behavior that is both repetitive and harmful. A stall vice is one such behavior; it is a repetitive bad habit a horse can acquire for a variety of reasons. Stall vices can affect your horse's dependability and/or health, and once a vice is set, it is a very difficult habit to break. Boredom is by far the most common cause of vices, and the most common vice is cribbing.
Cribbing may arise for many reasons:
What is cribbing?
A horse can become so addicted to this behavior that it would rather perform the cribbing action than eat. Many severe cribbers lose weight, which can further affect health and/or performance.
Interestingly, horses that are stalled together may tend to exhibit many of the same vices, including cribbing. This is believed to be caused by exposure to the same stressors in the environment, rather than being a learned behavior.
It can be extremely difficult to stop this behavior once it is established, and although there are cures, they can be expensive, such as covering all wood surfaces with rounded metal edges. Other methods for halting cribbing activity include subjecting your horse to expensive surgery or harsh mechanical cribbing collars or straps. In short, it is much easier to prevent the behavior than to correct it after it is set. "Cures" such as cribbing straps, shock collars, or surgery are considered unkind and do not address the underlying factors that cause the behavior.
Regular exercise will also help reduce stress and provide sensory stimulation. Ride him in different environments, so his brain can be even more stimulated. Enroll your horse in a training session. Provide stimulation through toys, like Pony Pops or a Jolly Ball to play with and combat boredom. Play the radio when your horse is stalled. Other owners rely on massage therapy to reduce their horse's stress.
Deter cribbing through avoidance
Cribbing is an unfortunate, and usually preventable, habit. Instead of scrambling for a cure after it is long established, be proactive in prevention. Give your horses plenty of exercise outside the stall in good pasture land, plenty of environmental stimulation, socialization with other horses or animals, a healthy diet void of nutritional gaps, and your personal affection and attention.