Why Do Horses Windsuck, And Should You Stop Them Doing It?

Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Allison Price

Windsucking, which is one of the most misunderstood conditions in horses, many people argue about whether it’s an annoyance or a vice . While others claim they have the cure, it’s probably the most common. If your horse windsucks, or you are considering buying one, this article won’t help.

What’s windsucking?

Windsucking occurs when horses open their mouths and swallow air. It can happen for many reasons. Windsucking is a declared vice. This means that a seller must inform potential buyers about the condition.

What is the difference between cribbing or windsucking?

Cribbing and windsucking may seem similar, but they are not the same. Cribbing is a horse resting his top teeth (or biting) on a fixed object such as a fence post, stable door or fence post. The purchase he made will be used to support his neck and allow him to gulp the air. Windsuck horses won’t bite on anything; they will just arch their necks and gulp wherever it is.

Why Do Horses Windsuck, And Should You Stop Them Doing It?

Horses that winduck can learn how to crib bite, and vice versa. However, horses who crib bite can learn how to windsuck, especially when they lose their ability to chew on anything.

What makes a horse windsuck?

Windsucking can be caused by a variety of factors. In some cases, it may even be the trigger. Windsucking is not like other vices (like weaving), and there’s no evidence that it can be learned or predisposed to certain horses. There is likely to be one trigger.


No matter the cause, horses can still windsuck. Endorphins, also known as “feel-good hormones”, are released when horses start to windsuck. This helps reduce stress levels. Unfortunately, this only reinforces the horse’s behavior and makes it more likely that they will continue doing it.


Horse windsucking is a combination of stress and boredom. Horses are herd animals and spend most of their time grazing. If they have to be kept away from their friends or given little access to grazing, they can become very bored. Boredom can lead to depression and stress, which can often lead to behavioral problems. It is important to keep your horse engaged even if he is on box rest.


Evidence is abundant that horses’ diets can have a significant impact on the development of many conditions including windsucking. Horses can digest grains well, but they may have difficulty if they consume too much grain from young age. This is especially true if the horse was weaned very soon after. A horse that eats too much grain can become more susceptible to ulcers, which can lead to windsucking.


Windsucking can trigger pain from dental problems or ulcers. Horses almost feel the pain and will wince in pain. A horse will grasp at the air to relieve the pain in a manner similar to how we take deep breaths in and then grimace in pain. The horse will continue to do this, which can lead to a pattern.


Horses can windsuck when they are excited about being fed or turned out. While some horses may start to kick their stall or paw the ground when they get excited, others will windsuck.

Are horses more susceptible to windsucking?

Windsucking can be caused by lifestyle factors, such as boredom, stress, or diet. However, performance horses that are often stabled for long periods and have high grain diets, and horses that are separated from other horses (or their companions) are more likely to windsuck. Some breeds are more susceptible to windsucking, such as the Quarter Horse, Arabian, Thoroughbred and Arabian.

How can you stop horses from windsucking?

Although there is no magic bullet to stop horses from windsucking, it is possible to address the root cause. While some treatments are specific to the cause (e.g ulcers), there are steps you can take to address the root cause.

Regular deworming

Your horse’s gastrointestinal health can be improved by keeping them free of worms or at the very least, keeping their count down. This will prevent colic and ulcers that can lead to windsucking. You can find more information about deworming horses.

Reduced stable time

Horses who are kept in a stable for long periods of time can become bored and stressed. You should try to reduce your horse’s stress levels and keep him occupied if you must keep him stabled. To keep your horse engaged and to reduce his boredom, toys and roller feeders can be used. Other options include a Perspex mirror and a lavender spray to help reduce stress.

Good quality grazing

It is important to provide quality grazing for your horse. However, if your area is sandy this may not be possible. You will need to limit the amount of grazing your horse does, but you can feed him hay in non-sandy areas. This article may be helpful if you live in a sandy region.


Your horse’s age and work load should be considered. A light horse will need less concentration, while a horse with a heavy workload will need more grain. No matter what your horse’s workload is, he should always be fed good quality forage. The fiber will aid him in digesting his food. This article will provide more information about what to feed your horse.

Slowly make changes

Although your horse might not mind you changing his diet or introducing him to a new group of horses, you should be careful. Your horse may become very stressed if this happens too fast. If you are changing the horse’s food, don’t hurry. Give him time to adjust.

Avoid loneliness

Horses can be sociable and social animals, but they don’t like being left alone. We would all love to keep our horses with other horses in an ideal world. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. Another animal is an option if you are unable to provide your horse with a horsey companion. Sheep, goats, and chickens all make great alternatives. This article will help if your horse is lonely and you are looking for ways to decrease his loneliness.

Most cases will end once the cause has been addressed. However, there may be times when the horse will continue to windsuck. Windsucking releases endorphins which make horses happy.

What is the impact of horse windsucking?

It was believed that horses inhale large amounts of air, which is what causes ulcers in their stomachs. However, research has proven that this is not the case. It can cause epiploic foramen, a type of colic. This happens when part of the small intestinal tract becomes stuck in the epiploicforamen, which is a small opening in the upper abdomen close to the liver. The horse then becomes blood starved. The small intestine that is trapped in the epiploic foramen (a small opening in the upper abdomen near the liver) will die. To prevent toxic substances from getting into the horse’s bloodstream, it must be removed.

Do I need a collar to stop my horse winding down?

Everyone has a different opinion about windsucking collars, sometimes called anti-cribbing or even windsucking collars. While some people believe they work, others view them as torture instruments. The truth is somewhere in between.

They can be used correctly, but if they aren’t properly fitted, they can cause more damage than good for the horse. There’s also the possibility that the collar could cause the horse to windsuck again as soon as it is removed.

They are not my favorite and I would never use them. They serve a purpose, but it doesn’t really matter if the horse isn’t suffering from windsucking.

Can surgery stop horses windsucking?

Modified Forrsell’s surgery involves removing a portion of an accessory nerve and the muscles the horse uses to arch his head. This operation has a 60-80% success rate. It should be used only if your horse is suffering from windsucking.

How can you stop horses windsucking?

Although your horse may still winduck after you have addressed the problem, it doesn’t mean he should stop doing so. In most cases, it isn’t doing any harm to your horse so why stop him? You should also remember that trying to stop horses can cause stress and increase their likelihood of windsucking.

Isn’t it better for your horse to be happy?

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!