Where #SeriousHorsePeople come to better understand digestive health in horses and its impact and management.

Stall Vices: Attitude or Health Related?

We’ve all been around horses with stall manners that range from annoying to sometimes even downright dangerous. Stall vices like cribbing, weaving, biting, kicking, and more are chronic issues for some horses. And perhaps you struggle with one of these behaviors in your horse.

But are stall vices always bad behavior or attitude related? There is strong evidence to suggest that stall vices in some horses may actually indicate an underlying health issue.

Cribbing Can Indicate Gastric Ulcers

Cribbing, commonly considered a learned or genetic pattern, has been shown to potentially have its roots in the horse’s stomach health.

Feed routines that consist of just 2-3 meals per day, limited to no turnout, regular travel and competition, and heavy exercise can all take a toll on a horse’s stomach. Any one of these can allow stomach acids to build, causing the horse discomfort and potentially leading to the development of equine gastric ulcers.

Horses may be sucking in air – the primary action of a cribbing horse – to relieve this discomfort. Sucking in air expands the stomach, causing acid levels to drop away from irritated portions of the stomach lining and providing momentary relief.

Withdrawn horses, or stall walking and weaving may be outward signs of digestive imbalance as well.

Irritability and Poor Ground Manners

Whether a horse is training for a high level of competition, occasionally shows or competes in events, or is used exclusively for trail riding or other leisure activities, it can be prone to irritability, poor trainability, or a general “poor attitude.” Pinning their ears when you walk into the stall, threatening to kick or bite while being handled (or actually doing it!), and general grouchiness may be more than just a bad personality.

If a horse is uncomfortable or in pain due to low-grade digestive imbalance, hindgut acidosis, or even gastric ulcers or colonic ulcers, they only have one way to tell you – their behavior!

Also, sensitivity to touch around the flank area, while girthing, or even under saddle can sometimes signal a hindgut issue. The major portion of the equine digestive system is the hindgut – the colon and cecum – which, in turn, makes up the majority of the horse’s belly.

Explore Potential Digestive Issues in Poor Horse Behavior

As with just about anything with horses, there are a handful of reasons why a horse may display stall vices and poor attitude and behavior. It could be a training issue, learned behavior from other horses, aversion to certain handlers, or a history of abuse of some kind – as well as a signal that the horse is uncomfortable or in pain.

As you explore options for amending a horse’s bad behavior, be sure to consider digestive health in your options. Consult with your vet to analyze your horse’s feed and care, or to run diagnostics to test for clinical issues.

Leave a Comment:

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Related Articles:

Systemic Inflammation and the Equine Gut

Equine researchers are paying more attention to systemic (bodywide) inflammation in horses and its impact on their health and performance. Why? Systemic inflammation affects the entire body and can contribute to various health problems, including […]

How Stress Affects the Horse’s Gut and Immune System

If you work with performance horses, you know the high demands placed on these animals. The pressures of rigorous training, regular hauling, and staying performance-ready can be intense and have physical repercussions. Do you know […]

Low-Glycemic Feed for Improved Horse Health and Performance

If you rely on complete feeds in your horse’s diet, you may be hurting their system with high-glycemic meals that cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar. Understanding what’s in your horse’s feed and how […]

Comparing SUCCEED DCP and SUCCEED VF Gut Health Supplements

A horse’s gut health can be negatively affected by management practices and the stresses of training, traveling, and competing. A healthy, comfortable horse is a happy and high-performing horse, which is why we created SUCCEED. […]

Your Horse's Blood Work & What It Means for Gut Health

As a horse owner, our equine partner’s comfort and health is our top concern. We all know the old adage, “no hoof, no horse”, but the same could be said about a horse’s GI tract. […]

The Summer Run’s Impact on a Rodeo Horse’s Gut Health

The notorious “summer run” in the world of rodeo is the most demanding time of the year for competitors and their performance horses. It’s not abnormal for rodeo athletes to travel more than 20,000 miles, […]

horses nutritional needs

FREE eBook:

Nutrition for Horses

Three factors for evaluating
your horse’s nutritional needs.