Every barn has at least one horse with a bad habit, whether it be a cribber, a swayer, or one of the other many vices that horses can have. Vices aren’t just annoying, they can be destructive and can also be a sign of an underlying problem, like a nutritional deficiency. It’s incredibly important to address these behaviors when they arise because they only get worse as time goes on, which only means it’ll get harder to fix. Here are a few tips on dealing with a vice:
-Start by assessing the situation. Ask yourself some of these questions:
-Is your horse happy and healthy?
-Is your horse bored?
-Is your horse anxious?
-Is your horse getting enough exercise?
-Is your horse happy with its pasture-mates?
-Does your horse have any nutritional deficiencies?
-Some of these may be relatively simple fixes!
-Adjust as needed.
-Keep your property from getting destroyed. Take preventative measures such as stall reinforcements to prevent damage from cribbing.
-Make a change in your horse’s life, like more exercise, more stimulation in the stall (toys, salt licks, etc.). Try changing their pasture situation or finding them a buddy that they like.
-Try to spend more time with your horse away from where they tend to exercise their vice, then spend time with them where they do it, correcting the behavior if need be.
-Ask for help. Work with other people around your horse to help break the habit. Trainers are also great resources in this situation to make life better for you and your horse!
Patience is key when dealing with vices; they don’t disappear overnight. You can still enjoy your horse if they have a vice so don’t give up on them! Help yourself by doing your research on the vice that your horse has and reach out to those who have experience with it, like people who’s horses also have that vice. Although it can be frustrating and potentially time-consuming, be consistent and have hope that your horse will change.