When you are looking for a new horse, it is quite possible that you will come across a horse that wind sucks or cribs. Any honest vendor will advertise this fact and that leaves you with the question should I buy a wind sucker. Many people will automatically say no whether that is because they have a had a bad experience or they just don’t have the time for the extra care and attention a wind sucker may require, and that’s perfectly fine, but many may consider taking on a horse with this habit. It may be the perfect horse for you in every other aspect so is it worth the risk?
There are a few things you should probably ask yourself before making the decision. How bad is the horses’ habit- do they constantly suck, or is it only under stressful conditions. Has it started to affect them physically? And can I manage the condition successfully?
Wind sucking can result in some of the following issues.
- Dental issues – uneven wear on the front incisors and if the horse is older and has been sucking for quite a while, they might find it hard to graze if the wear is severe.
- Neck muscles – due to the constant sucking motion the muscles in the neck can become tense and enlarged.
- Weight loss – doesn’t affect every horse, especially if they aren’t bad wind suckers, however as they spend more time sucking, they spend less time eating and this can lead to loss of condition/weight.
- Ulcers- due to reduced food intake they can develop ulcers, especially if they are stabled and on a high-grain diet.
It may help to know what can cause a horse to wind suck before making any decisions.
- Learned habit.
- Long periods of being stabled.
- Diet – high grain diet, or no constant access to hay or ability to graze.
When taking on a wind sucker you may also want to consider where you are keeping your horse. They are probably better suited to be out on pasture to reduce boredom and stress, however if you agist your horse that may be harder and many agistment places don’t take on horses that wind suck. A paddock companion is a great idea, it reduces stress and lessens horses’ boredom. However many believe that wind-sucking can be a learned habit, though not proven it is something to consider. In an ideal situation where horses can be out in a large paddock together constantly grazing, another horse learning the habit is less likely to occur.
Below are some ways to help try and prevent a horse from wind-sucking and manage the habit successfully.
- Wind-sucking collars.
- Electrifying your paddock can help, reduce what your horse can crib on such as fence posts.
- Keeping feeders and waters on the ground rather than up on fences so they can’t get their teeth on them as easily.
- Remove any other objects in the paddock they may be able to reach easily with their teeth.
- Stop crib pastes/paints.
- Less confinement in a small yard or stable to reduce boredom and stress.
- Constant access to hay forage
Many horses with this habit can be easily managed and things such as weight loss and tooth wear aren’t a problem. The biggest issue may be that it can be annoying, more for you than the horse! However, if that doesn’t worry you, you have the facilities to look after the horse, and it is the perfect fit for you, it is probably worth considering. There are many beautiful horses out there with this being their only vice. However, if you feel it’s too much to take on, don’t have a suitable place to be able to keep a horse like this, and it has started to affect them in a physical way, then maybe you should look elsewhere. It is purely a personal decision, and everyone’s needs and wants are different.
Written by Selena P.