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CONTROLLING THE WIND SUCKER

by

John O'Leary
Horseman
© 2003
www.horseproblems.com.au


Wind Sucking is a vice and it is also a legal trigger for a Veterinary Surgeon to reject a horse during an inspection for sale.

The wind sucker is often under weight and I have even seen them so bad that they have died of mal nutrition because of their incessant desire to be carrying on their habit.

 

To John

We spoke a few weeks ago About the windsucking collars i purchased from you for a thoroughbred mare and her foal. Here is proof that they both enjoy it as a family activity.

Regards Beau Mullin
Winflora Lodge
Singleton NSW
2330

Hell Beau, I hope that is not my windsucking collar on her????

No dont worry that photo was taken while your collar was in the post. It is an "id" tag on her neck.. She attempted to windsuck within ten minutes with the collar but did not succeed.The collar was a success. I weaned her foal last week and did not see the foal windsucking but i guess she was to caught up with losing her mother and other horses nearby. I was fencing yesterday and she was windsucking quite well by herself. I bought two collars i think the collar might just be small enough to fit her. I will find out soon enough.
Cheers Beau


I am going to now get Foal one designed Beau. You know, all the Experts say that they can't copy each other. I was ridiculed on the Tas Horse Forum Years ago for suggesting it. "I wonder if they thought he had a Clue?" :) Well done for your attention to detail. Regards

 

Wind Sucking becomes a drug addiction with horses. They are addicts. Each time they suck and gulp air they receive a hit of endorphins which is similar to a drug, hence it's addiction.

The habit is generally caused by boredom in the stables environment and/or copying other horses that do it. Such boredom can be increased by the lack of opportunity for the horse to graze, which they do for around 16 hours in their paddock environment. The feeding of lot's of hay keeps horses occupied whereas in the Racing Industry where small hard feeds are fed, the chances of boredom and eventual wind sucking is drastically increased and in real life this is where I meet most of them.

To carry out this nasty habit, they usually need to be able to grab on to a door, log, wooden rail or whatever else with their front teeth and then to gulp air down into their gut. Some do not however.

When purchasing a horse, you should take a look at it's front teeth to see if they have any unusual wear from wind sucking. Their front teeth gradually get worn down on an angle because of the horse grabbing on to wooden rails, tree stumps, doors or whatever else they can find to achieve their addiction. I have even seen a horse wind suck on it's own front leg.

So you own one and what do you do to manage it? They rarely give it up. We have found that using electric fencing to the point where the horse cannot get hold of an object with it's teeth, does stop them in the stable environment. We paint any other target points with creosote and are ever vigilant. If we see a new location being invented by the horse, we will immediately paint that too.

It does not pay to allow a wind sucker to be in the company of your other good horses, unless it cannot do it. The Saddlery Shops sell a collar that is called either a 'wind sucking collar' or a 'Miracle Collar' as they are sometimes called. These have some success but not on all horses so do not just fit one and not observe your horse after. It works on the basis of stopping the esophagus from  radically expanding so the horse cannot get the large volume of air down the throat at once.

One scientific investigation suggested that the horse does not take the air down into either it's lungs or the gut. It found that the air is merely taken into the mouth and throat area.

Never buy a Wind Sucker and always ask the question and check the incisor teeth for wear.

NEW RESEARCH

There have been recent studies in Britain which tend to point toward the problem being digestion related and a product has been manufactured by Feedmark.com

Similarly, some Vets' in Australia link stomach ulcers with the problem. There is a wormer for the elimination of ulcers.

 Recent Advances in the Treatment of Equine Stereotypic Behaviour, University of Lincoln, Caythorpe Campus, UK) In a joint project between the University of Lincoln and Feedmark horses fed an antacid supplement did not exhibit crib biting and windsucking as often. Feedmark have launched an antacid supplement for horses - Settlelex.

Lately, I have been observing this product in use on a bad wind sucker here.

https://equineperformanceproducts.com.au/index.aspx?menuid=281

 

I was referred to a debate on the Tashorse Forum about windsucking and a poster had this to say.

Nearly every book you read will tell you that wind sucking is a behavioural problem that no one has been able to cure; and certain mythologies abound - such as that if there is one wind sucker in the stable it will 'teach' its habit to the other stable residents. "The habit is generally caused by boredom in the stables environment and/or copying other horses that do it." From Controlling The Wind Sucker by John O'Leary, Horseman © 2003. This particular myth has been debunked in recent years. "While it is often said that other horses will learn a stereotypy such as Cribbing from a horse performing the behavior, Mills said evidence for this is at best poor and in general absent.

To date most of the research into this new area has been conducted in the UK. Researchers suspected that horses were Cribbing to try and relieve high stomach acid levels caused by the feeding of high concentrate feeds (oats, barley and other grains). At pasture and in the wild horses spend around 16 hours a day foraging for food, often of a high fibre, low concentrate type.. The result is that their digestive tract is "trickle fed" and constantly processing food as it passes through the gut. When confined indoors, or even in a yard, and reliant on their keepers for their source of feed, the stomach of the horse goes empty for long periods of time - much longer than it was actually designed to do. To add to this, they are then feed high concentrate feeds. In Recent Advances in the Treatment of Equine Stereotypic Behaviour Daniel Mills says "Both McGreevy and colleagues (1995a) and Redbo and colleagues (1998) have also reported that Cribbing appears to be associated with the feeding of concentrates, which supports the observation of Fitzwygram (1911) who reported that the condition "most commonly . arises from some form of acidity .of the stomach"." Research conducted at Auburn University's Department Of Animal Sciences (Alabama, USA) supports this. "Results clearly indicate that cribbers have a more acidic gastric environment than normal horses supporting the theory that gastrointestinal irritation may be a motivating cause for Cribbing."
 

So as always, the Horsemen know what the Scientists don't.

Being the analitical type and always interested in what the horses have to say rather than reading books or Forums, I recommended the owner buy the gadget that you see around the neck of this bad windsucker. Now this is the horse that features in one of my latest videos, 'Wind sucking School' http://www.horseproblems.com.au/Video/Wind%20Suck%20School.avi

I and 15 other people have been observing the horse for a week now, since he has had his new collar and he has stopped wind sucking. The thing that interests me however is the question of whether the horse may be in fact penalized and put in further pain should the assertions above be fact. Prior to a week ago, this horse was a depressed, anti social type who never interacted with other horses in the paddock. Rather than being in more pain or any pain, he has a new attitude on life, is happy and is suddenly joining in the fun and games of the day paddock, like a normal horse, not standing around like a zombie. So where the Scientists always use the words 'may be and 'appears to be', I can tell you that this particular horse 'is' not in pain and 'is' happier.

Whether their research is correct or not, I don't know but this particular horse has proven the worth of that collar and without any exhibited detrimental affects. Only positive ones.

GO LOOK AT THIS VIDEO. WIND SUCKING SCHOOL

http://www.horseproblems.com.au/Video/Wind%20Suck%20School.avi

I know two things for sure. No human is certain and horses can't talk. What a shame.

So rather than get paralysis of the analysis, I went about being pro-active.

 O'LEARY WIND SUCKING COLLAR

 

Go here to buy it.

http://www.horseproblems.com.au/Saddlery%20Sales%20Page/wind_sucking_collar.htm

 

LETTERS

Dear John,

First off, let me send my warmest wishes to Mrs HP, what a trooper! Hopefully she is back home soon and on the steady path to recovery!

I just wanted to send you an email thanking you for the WONDERFUL windsuck collar. I have tried everything to keep weight on my 10 yr old Tb (of course you already knew the breed, didnít you :p ), and winter especially has been tough on him. He just wouldnít eat! Sucking on his posts was much more important. Prior to your collar we had tried the regular metal ones (he worked out how to keep doing it and broke one clean in half), the miracle collar, which left bare, raw patches on him, sprays, electricity (heíd just find something else) and even spreading his own manure on top of the posts! Nothing worked, but I was scared to try the shock collars as he is kept in a pasture, and I had horrible images of him being zapped for hours if it malfunctioned!

His vet that first treated him post-racing injury (5 yrs ago) told me of this amazing collar he had gotten from an Ďold bush horsemaní, which was more like a dog collar, had 2 buckles and was GUARANTEED to work. He told me any saddler could make one. Well, having never seen one myself, I tried several good saddlers, but they all recommended the miracle collar... So you can imagine my excitement to find them on your site!

My boy has been wearing it now basically 24/7, it only comes off for grooming/riding etc, and has been through 1 full winter. He came through winter looking amazing! Excellent weight, on nothing other than constant access to grass hay, poor pasture and hard feeds only after work. He is now the best he has looked in 5 years, but is eating the least I have ever fed him in that time! This is also the first colic free winter we have had J Best of all, there are no sores or bare patches, the leather is still soft (even after LOTS of mud rolls), and I can foresee many good years of use!

I canít thank you enough for making my horse a joy to have, instead of a constant heartache, and Iíd recommend these collars to anyone!

Regards,

 
Sarah & Master Chief
sj.mcinnes@bigpond.com

Wow Sarah. That is fantastic. Thanks for the feed back and if I may I will put it on the page where I sell them. Regards and Carrot to Master Chief :)

 

***************

 

" Hi John,

Just wanted to send you some feedback on the wind sucking collar I bought from you.
Caesar is a 16.3hh 14 Y/O OTTTB that I brought home this time last year; wonderful nature but as a result of a racing career, was a chronic windsucker.
I was using one of those typical collars that you can pick up from any old saddlery which was more like an ornament than a preventative for his problem; basically it did nothing and in no time at all my fences were a mess.
Sucking was the first and last thing on Cís mind - if he was stressed he would suck, if he was waiting for his dinner he would suck, if he was in between munching hay, he would suck. It was a real mental problem for him that had manifested into a physiological behavior, and it drove us both nuts.
I read about your new collar on your website, and the rest is history!
Caesar has been wearing his collar for about a year now; it only took two (2) or three (3) attempts to suck with the collar on before he gave up and walked away; sucking is impossible with this collar, it stopped immediately.
The transformation over the past year has been amazing; Caesar has gone from a horse whose only interest was to suck (and as a result withdrawn from the herd and us) to a horse that has a new lease on life. He now initiates play with the youngsters and seeks out people for a scratch and a carrot as opposed to latching onto something/anything and sucking.
The collar itself has stood up to it all; wind, rain, heat etc.. Itís a beautiful piece of work that will last a lifetime.
Anyone that owns a windsucker should have this collar.
Pic to follow; Iíll take some happy snaps tonight!

Cheers,
Joyce "

Katie is absolutely THRILLED with the windsucking collar your brother invented. It is the only one on earth that we know that stops his windsucking!!! He doesn't even try windsucking when it is on as it seems to stop the air completely. The "Miracle collar" (photos attached) worked for a while but he could always suck the slightest bit of air in and he would always keep trying. In the end he worked out how to suck air in quite successfully. Your collar, however, just works! We're finding it rubs him less as well (it keeps his bridle path trimmed, but that's about it!)

HorsePower Equine <horsepowerequine@live.com.au>

 

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