Retrospective evaluation of crib-biting and windsuckingbehaviours and owner-perceived behavioural traits as riskfactors for colic in horses

R. Malamed, J. Berger, Melissa Bain, Philip H Kass, Sharon Spier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Reasons for performing study: Although crib-biting (cribbing)/windsucking has previously been associated with 2 types ofcolic, additional research into the possible role of otherbehaviours on incidence of colic by type and severity has notbeen undertaken.Objectives: To investigate: a relationship between cribbing/windsucking and colic; a relationship between cribbing/windsucking and different types of colic, both medical andsurgical; and whether horses displaying specific behaviourtraits were more likely to have had colic.Methods: A matched case-control retrospective study wasconducted evaluating horses with various surgical andmedical colic diagnoses, admitted to a referral hospital over a3 year period. Computerised records and a validated internetquestionnaire were used to obtain information on ownerperceivedbehavioural traits and repetitive behaviours.Results: Cribbing/windsucking was significantly associatedwith colic but was unassociated with one category or severityof colic over another. No other repetitive behaviour wasassociated with colic. Age (≥20 years) was significantlyassociated with colic. An anxious temperament was notassociated with risk of colic.Conclusion: Animals at higher risk for colic may be identifiedbased on history of cribbing/windsucking behaviour, but thisbehaviour was unassociated with increased risk for aparticular category or severity of colic. Horses characterisedas being more anxious were not at increased risk for colic.Potential relevance: There is a need to elucidate a causalrelationship between cribbing/windsucking andgastrointestinal function as development of more effectiveand humane strategies to treat cribbing/windsuckingbehaviour may help to improve equine welfare and reducethe risk of colic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)686-692
Number of pages7
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Behaviour
  • Colic
  • Cribbing
  • Horse
  • Risk factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


Dive into the research topics of 'Retrospective evaluation of crib-biting and windsuckingbehaviours and owner-perceived behavioural traits as riskfactors for colic in horses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this