Is there anything to be learned from horses with obsessive compulsive disorder? That’s right: horses are diagnosed with OCD as well as humans. In fact, as many as 15% have the affliction while even more exhibit the behaviors.
Horses will chew blankets, nod their heads up and down and paw the ground repetitively and without reason. Not unlike human treatments, the equine variety may include anti-depressants or retraining – something we might refer to as behavior modification.
The most common and destructive type of equine OCD is called cribbing. It entails the pulling of wood in its stall, damaging the stable. There is accompanying grunting, huffing and puffing. The stalls must be repaired. The wood can cause intestinal disorders when swallowed by the horse. Insurance coverage can be lost because the behavior is so unhealthy for the horse.
Interestingly, cribbing is not a behavior seen in wild horses. As a matter of fact, it is widely believed that there is no record of OCD type behavior in a wild horse. One of the treatments for an obsessive horse is to spend more time with him, proper training, and not confining them to a barn or stall. A change to a more textural diet can also help.
Could these principles also help people with OCD? Greater socialization, more exercise, less sedentary lifestyle? All of these reduce stress and stress is a trigger for OCD. It could be that horses in their natural environment, grazing on the plain, slowly and methodically chewing their grassy meals, interacting with each other and with trainers are showing us a more natural way of relieving stress and reducing the symptoms of a modern and anxious life.
Source: Horses and Horse Information