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Episode 28: Cribbing


In the previous podcast our guest, Michaela Hempen set the stage for this week’s podcast by describing single-subject design studies. Now she shares with us some research she has been doing on cribbing.

Anyone who has had a cribber in their barn knows what an annoying habit this can be. But it is more than an annoyance. Cribbing has been linked to some serious health issues, including a higher risk of colics. Michaela summarizes the different types of interventions people try - often drawing from the medical model and the ethological approach. These help but only up to a point. Michaela has been taking a different approach. She is looking at the types of interventions that might be effective if we think of cribbing from the perspective of operant conditioning.

You don’t have to have a cribber to benefit from this podcast. We can all become citizen scientists as we learn to incorporate single-subject design studies into our training. What is the best training strategy for your horse? Does he work better if you use bigger treats, different treats, a variety of treats? Now you don’t have to guess. You can set up AB reversals and directly ask your horse these questions and many more.