ESI Q and A Forums Home
 Search       Members   Calendar   Help   Home 
Search by username
Not logged in - Login | Register 

Anti-cribbing device, oral implant
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
 New Topic   Reply   Print 
AuthorPost
Val
Member


Joined: Thu Apr 5th, 2007
Location: Near Philly, Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 116
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Jun 15th, 2007 04:00 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Hi everyone,

Our equine dentist's assistant told us about a new anti-cribbing device, a metal piece that is implanted in the horse's gum such that cribbing becomes painful. The device acts as a deterrent, perhaps a complete cure to the behavior.  She said she had put one in a confirmed cribber, one that would crib on other horses' halters in turnout if no other surface offered, and he never cribbed again.  She asked us if we wanted her to do this procedure on my husband's mare, a 20 year old paint. 

She has always cribbed (the mare, not the dental assistant), and other than the unattractive musculature she has developed and the worn front teeth, she doesn't seem to have any other problems that people say come from cribbing,such as colic, inability to gain weight, etc. 

To me it seems like a dirty trick.  It seems to me that Kitty has a psychological tension or energy that expresses itself in cribbing, and if we prevent that, it'll surface in another, possibly more destructive way.  Or perhaps internalize, which would be even worse.   As I said in the first paragraph, the device addresses the behavior, not the underlying problem.  And we're not sure what the underlying problem even is or how to find out. 

My husband tried one of those electric anti-crib collars to see if it would help, but only once; she cribbed, panicked, backed into the corner of her stall and stood there motionless and terrified until he took it off.  He says, never again to that kind of nonsense.

Input? Thoughts?  Point me in the direction to learn more?

thanks,

Val, avoiding a boring work project just outside Philly

Val
Member


Joined: Thu Apr 5th, 2007
Location: Near Philly, Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 116
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Jun 15th, 2007 08:47 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Ok, after a little quiet time for research and reflection, I have answered my own question and am reclassifying the procedure from "dirty trick" to "unconscionable."

Kinda sad to see how easily I am led in the wrong direction by someone else's values and opinions.  Our barn owner would like to see Kitty stop cribbing because it's destructive and it's "bad."  The dentist's assistant, I am guessing, has an effective method she can use and would like to use it.  But neither motive serves Kitty's best interest. 

val

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3232
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Jun 15th, 2007 08:54 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Val, you are absolutely correct in your assessment of the gum implant. There isn't one iota of difference between a gum implant (painful), an electric shock collar that works when the horse expands its throat (painful), or a conventional anti-cribbing collar with the metal spikes (intended to be painful also).

I have seen no research whatsoever on the gum implant's effectiveness, so all you have to go on there is the report of somebody who has read an advertisement -- I don't believe research actually exists. But what would not surprise me if research were to be done, is that LONG term use of the device, while it might initially inhibit cribbing, might eventually see its resurgence. This is because part of what maintains the habit, once the horse learns how to crib, is that each time he does it there is a release of endorphins, which are the brain's version of cocaine -- a natural painkiller. The endorphins are just as addictive as street cocaine, and what happens is that the animal becomes willing to go as far as self-mutilation in order to obtain a "hit". So, things that are painful, so long as they are not so extremely painful as to overwhelm the painkilling effect of the endorphins, are actually helping the habit to persist.

I once watched our elderly teacher cure a horse of cribbing, and I will tell this story now because there are several lessons in here for anybody with any kind of horse that exhibits stereotypies (stereotypies, such as cribbing, are acontextual or meaningless, repetitive actions that serve the function of relieving internal psychological tensions or stress).

The horse was in a stall with a Dutch door, with the top half of the door fixed open so that he could come to the front and hang his head out if he wanted to. The place where the horse would crib was on the upper surface of the lower part of the door. Our teacher placed himself on his little folding stool just outside the stall door, to the right of the door, sitting on the stool with his back leaning back against the wall of the barn. The rest of us were sitting on the ground or on chairs or buckets arranged around the front of the door in a semicircle.

This was my very first visit with our teacher, and I was the odd person out in that group. All the others were young cowboys. We had just spent the previous two hours outside in the roundpen, where our teacher had been helping the young men to get some young horses saddled that had had some trouble being saddled. When it got to be lunchtime, then he suggested we sit around the stall so.

And we had a pleasant and wide-ranging talk, sharing stories about horses and with everyone asking our teacher various questions. So he was talking and answering the questions, but he had a few very small pebbles in his left hand. The pebbles were no bigger than 3/8ths to 1/2 inch.

Naturally the horse was a little curious as to what was going on outside his stall, so he would come to the front and look out, or sniff our teacher's hat, and then go back inside. But after the horse had figured out who we all were and that was no longer so interesting, he would come up to the front of the stall and hook his upper incisor teeth on the lip of the door, and crib.

But he never quite got it done. Our teacher was an exemplary observer, and he had TIME enough to really care to do a job thoroughly. So when the horse came up there and had opened its mouth (you can hear them open their mouths), before the animal could get its teeth on the door, PING one of those little stones touched him right on the side of the muzzle.

Now our teacher had the ability to carry on conversation and yet never fail to observe when the horse had it in mind to crib. So every single time, without exception, for about an hour and a half, he caught the animal BETWEEN THE IDEA AND THE ACT.

You could notice that at first, the animal would try very frequently, again and again, to get up there and crib. But it just never quite worked. So the frequency dropped off more and more, and the attempts got weaker and weaker, until by the end the horse would just stand there with its head hanging out of the stall, looking sleepy and content.

This is the objective: not only to inhibit and disenfranchise the stereotypy, but to show the horse that he can be OK within himself wherever he is.

Here in summary are the important points of this lesson:

(1) the "negative" stimulus is small or even tiny

(2) the "negative" stimulus is there at the right time -- BETWEEN THE IDEA AND THE ACT (not BEFORE the idea, and not AFTER the act).

(3) the "negative" stimulus never fails to occur, especially while the frequency of attempts is still very high

(4) love is flowing out of the person teaching the horse, so that the horse picks it up and starts coming to the teacher for comfort instead of to his stereotypy

(5) the teacher is also telling the horse, "you can be OK within yourself -- you don't actually need me."

What does this approach require?

(1) You are willing to spend all the time it is going to take, especially the first day or couple of days

(2) You are not going to try to multi-task. No cell phone, no book, no computer, nothing that could have a chance of causing you to miss EVEN ONE ATTEMPT by the horse to crib. Sessions need to last about one hour, though "quitting time" should be monitored not by the clock but by the noticeable diminution of frequency

(3) You have to love the horse enough that you desire its entire independence, or you could say in human psychological terms, that you desire it to "fully individuate." For horses that exhibit stereotypies have not fully individuated -- i.e., they cannot carry or maintain OKness within themselves -- they cannot suck their own thumb. You are trying to teach the horse to suck its own thumb, so that it can self-comfort from deep within.

Food for thought, and I hope you can give this approach a try. -- Dr. Deb

Val
Member


Joined: Thu Apr 5th, 2007
Location: Near Philly, Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 116
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Jun 15th, 2007 09:37 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Interesting answer, Dr. Deb, thanks for your attention to my post. 

You forgot one important thing in your list of requirements, though: good aim! 

All kidding aside, the horse was really cured?  And he didn't associate the flick of your teacher's wrist/hand with the oncoming ping on the nose?  I am very intrigued, and really want to give this a try. 

This is a quiet time for me at work (obviously!) and I could devote mornings til September on exploring this avenue.  Though, from reading the Birdie Book and your response, if I don't see progress fairly soon (the first couple of days, you said) then that would be an indicator that I am not getting it right.

Regards and thanks,

val

Val
Member


Joined: Thu Apr 5th, 2007
Location: Near Philly, Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 116
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jul 12th, 2007 04:41 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Just checking in to let you know that I did not blow off your input, Dr. Deb. 

I was concerned, as I mentioned previously, about my ability to ping gently Kitty on the nose without either missing her entirely or hitting her too hard.  I also wanted to go and sit and watch her for a day or two, to get an idea of what she does and when, so I could plan where to stand, watch, and intervene with reasonable comfort and consistency.  I'll have to be in the stall with her, which is ok.  All of which your elderly teacher already had thought out and planned before he put you all around that horse's stable door that day.

Then personal and professional issues interfered for a bit so I couldn't execute the plan in her stall.  What I did do, one day when we were walking and grazing our horses on leadlines, was see Kitty leave the grass and go over to the fence to crib.  I grabbed a handful of gravel, and gently flicked on at her nose when she opened her mouth.  No problemo on my part. No excitement, no fright or startlement, on her part.  She just stopped, waited a heartbeat, and started to open her mouth again.  It was very easy to see her intent.  I did it again. After maybe 5 attempts consecutively, she quit and went back to grazing.  Tried again about 15 minutes later, another 4 or 5 times.  I intervened each time before or as she opened her mouth.  And she just stopped.

She hasn't cribbed "in hand" since, but I know she still cribs in her stall.  Next week, I will go sit in her stall for an hour or so before work and do an intervention there.

Thank you again.  I also read carefully what you wrote to Katie Watts about balance and suppleness.  I need to work on this, and your explanation of ways and means is crystal clear.  Your description could have been written of me and my horse.  How I wish I had an arena to work in.  Perhaps I could persuade my barn owner to let me use one of the turnouts as an arena a couple times a week. 

Regards and thanks,

val

Val
Member


Joined: Thu Apr 5th, 2007
Location: Near Philly, Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 116
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jul 17th, 2007 05:15 pm
 Quote  Reply 
OK, I spent an hour this morning with Kitty, trying the approach you describe above, Dr. Deb.  It was interesting, but I am not convinced I achieved anything with respect to her cribbing behavior.  

I put several handfuls of gravel in my hat and went in her stall.  After she lost interest in me, she went to her cribbing board.  I was able to ping her gently each time before the act. This time she clearly connected the ping with the flicking movement of my hand.  The touch of the gravel bit deterred her at first, then I could see that simply lifting or moving my hand deterred her. 

After the first bout of attempts, she got very sleepy.  When she falls asleep, she falls down, so it wasn't safe for me to stay in the stall and I vacated and decided to continue from outside her stall. 

Next round of activity, she got cagey and spent a lot of time nuzzling and licking the board instead of cribbing, watching me the whole time.  She also got resentful of me invading her space, telling me with pinned ears and a head gesture to take my arm out of her stall, so I backed off and eased up my intensity.  Maybe she wasn't feeling the love flowing out of me.  :-)  I was still able to ping her and deter her.  She quit attempting to crib and took another nap.

Third round, she did her best to ignore the pings altogether.  It was as though she decided the little stones weren't going to hurt her and she was going to crib, dammit. She showed no resentment of my arm hanging inside her stall this time. She showed no resentment of anything, she just kept putting her mouth against that board and not responding to the pings. I figured out that this time to be effective, I had to intervene much earlier than I had needed to before.  She backed off again and took another nap.  That was about 70 minutes.

But I bet she's cribbing right now.  

I'll go again tomorrow and do it again.

Regards,

val

Tasha
Member
 

Joined: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007
Location: South Island, New Zealand
Posts: 53
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jul 17th, 2007 10:43 pm
 Quote  Reply 
I'm a little concerned you say that your horse falls down when she falls asleep. Do you mean she literally falls over or that she lays down when she is about to go to sleep?

val from another computer
Guest
 

Joined: 
Location:  
Posts: 
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 01:56 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Tasha, yes, she does in fact fall down when she falls asleep.  sometimes its her back end, sometimes her front. sometimes she wakes right up when she hits the ground. Other times she looks like she is drunk or sedated, falls in slow motion, catches herself slowly, staggers around.  I wish she would just lie down. Surely it would be more restful. But in 20 years, she never has. 

Thank you for reading and responding.

val

val from another computer
Guest
 

Joined: 
Location:  
Posts: 
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 02:17 am
 Quote  Reply 
Sorry, realized I was being disingenous in my reply.You asked a question which I answeres but I think you were getting at something else.

Most horses do not do this (fall down when falling asleep). but some horses do. Almost everyone I've mentioned it to has known at least one other horse like this. I have myself.

Tasha
Member
 

Joined: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007
Location: South Island, New Zealand
Posts: 53
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 03:19 am
 Quote  Reply 
:-) I was just asking out of curiosity since horses have a stay apparatus which should prevent them from falling over when they go to sleep. I've never come across a horse that has done this nor heard of it happening either.

Val
Member


Joined: Thu Apr 5th, 2007
Location: Near Philly, Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 116
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jul 18th, 2007 01:58 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Yep, I am familiar with (or have at least read something about) the stay apparatus.  With Miss Kitty, it doesn't seem to work. Maybe she falls asleep too fast? I don't know enough about how it works to even make a guess. 

There was a horse at another barn that used to fall down when he fell asleep.  They kept him in a straight stall with his head tied in a window, so when he fell asleep his chin would hit the sill and it would wake him up.

Be interesting to hear what others have to say.  Thanks again, Tasha.

val

ozgaitedhorses
Member
 

Joined: Mon Apr 30th, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 55
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 12:12 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Val (& others)!

I've come across an article a while ago (but of course now I can't find it any more!) describing two horses that almost fell over every time they fell asleep. The underlying cause in both cases was severe sleep deprivation. Although horses can sleep while standing, they do need a certain amount of 'deep sleep', and they only get that while lying down – and the stay apparatus doesn’t seem to work in that phase of sleep.

One of the horses mentioned above had some sort of growth in the abdomen (if I can remember correctly) that apparently made it extremely painful for him to lie down. The other one was all alone in a field and just didn’t dare to lie down. Once he had a buddy in his pasture, he slept (lying down) for an absolutely ridiculous amount of time - lots of catching up to do! – and was good as gold in a day or two.

If you haven’t seen your horse lying down (or signs of it – like dirt/shavings on her back), I’d give her a good checkover! Maybe she’s not getting enough quality sleep - for whatever reason.

Narcolepsy has also been reported in horses…

All the best,

Manu

Val
Member


Joined: Thu Apr 5th, 2007
Location: Near Philly, Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 116
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jul 19th, 2007 09:04 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Manu, thanks for your thoughts. My husband believes Kitty's problem is narcolepsy. Myself, I don't know.  I don't know enough about it, and haven't done any reading or research.  We've never seen her lying down to sleep, but then, I've owned my own guy for over 12 years and only caught him twice on the ground for a nap so that doesn't prove anything.

She does lie down to roll in her paddock and pasture, so presumably she feels safe enough there.

She's not an ok horse, though. She's wary and she doesn't think much of people. I went in today and just spent some time with her in her paddock, to show her that we don't always want something from her. She didn't want me to pet her, didn't seem to get any pleasure out of human touch. I finally found a spot on her crest she seemed to enjoy having scratched,so I scratched for about 2 minutes and then left her alone before she got fed up or suspicious. 

anti-cribbing, narcolepsy, and being fed up with people: we have quite a variety of topics within this one thread.

val


 Current time is 07:51 am




Powered by WowBB 1.7 - Copyright © 2003-2006 Aycan Gulez