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Aging Pony

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  • snaffle1987
    started a topic Aging Pony

    Aging Pony

    Hello All

    Let me first start off by saying that I am not new to senior horse care. I have been around this block many times. With this being said, the below incident is new issues for me.

    I have an aging crossbred Shetland pony. His age is unknown, although likely 30 or above. Up until 4-6 weeks ago he was eating normal, would finish his dinner in 2-3 hours. He is currently on a wet timothy pellet and a Senior feed that is wet. It takes him awhile to eat it but he does. He has always been VERY aggressive about food. He has not been able to chew hay, even a second cut for a few years now but has remained very healthy and happy and in good weight. We did offer him Dinge hay in the PM just in case he did have interest but typically he would just throw it around.

    About 6 weeks ago he started leaving part of his breakfast and dinner in his feeder. This has increased over the past 6 weeks to eating minimal amounts. He is still very excited to see his feed and attacks it like he normally would. About 5 minutes in; he stops eating and stands in his stall. If I go in and stir it around, he will go back to picking at it and eventually stop again

    If I lock him in for the night, he would typically clean the bowl by the AM. In the last week; he has started to leave most of his AM and PM meals in the feeder by the time he is turned back outside. HIs feeder basically looks like pulverized wet mash by the morning and its all mash into the bottom of the bucket like he took his incisors and compacted it all, all night.

    I had the vet out a week ago just to check him. Everything was normal. He has all of his incisors. On the top cheek teeth, he only has 3 teeth left, in total (both sides). Mandible (bottom) teeth; he has much more numerous teeth (I cant recall if we actually counted them all. He did have some odd points on some of his teeth that we took care of but nothing alarming. We could not find any alarming issues in his mouth (blisters, sores, etc). His mouth is very small so it's a bit hard to see everything but the vet did let me take a light and see it all myself. There were no holes where he would've recently lost anything within the last days or week, either so he has been dealing with his minimal teeth at least for awhile now.

    We put him on antacids for a few days and didn't see any noticeable signs of improvement. I also put him on a round of ulcergaurd. (He has a history of bad ulcers) No noticeable difference. The vet thought that maybe he was having issues and 5 minutes into eating; his stomach releases acid and suddenly he doesn't feel good. So we figured we'd try the antacids and ulcergaurd and see if there was a change... end result... not really.

    I have given him ricebran oil just to get some fat into him 2x a day. I tried mixing in some nice sweet feed into his mix of slop to add some flavor. Still the same consumption. I tried taking the hay pellet out and just give him his senior feed and no change. He has access to numerous kinds of salt licks and we have some green pasture now. He was out most of the day yesterday grazing on the new grass (although he cant eat it!). His pasture-mate gets a 2nd cut hay as he is approaching the same age. The old man loves to munch on the second cut, ball it up and spit it out.... but not interested in his own grain.

    Sadly; I think we are getting to the end. But I figured I would come here to see if anyone has any ideas. It just bugs me that he is so eager to eat and then not much or he's eager to go out and graze or chew the 2nd cut but not eat his own feed.

    Quality of life is where its at and spending 8 hours locked inside so he eats isn't really quality either. He has resulted to trying to break down his stall door in the morning if we lock him in to eat....because he wants to go chew on the 2nd cut.

    Thanks in advance.


  • rubygirl1968
    replied
    Do you have a way to separate the pasture/paddock so he can be out beside his buddy and have his food?

    I don't mean to sound crass or cruel, but I figure when they're old they've earned the right to eat what they like, especially when one thinks they don't have much time left.

    I'd let him have his grass, see what he will eat in an hour or two and turn him back out. If you could separate the pasture you could leave his food out with him.

    If you pm me your address I'll send you some Ultium to try, if youd like. It gets expensive trying to find something they'll eat.

    Leave a comment:


  • snaffle1987
    replied
    So 2 days ago now I gave him soaked new grain. Didn't want it. So I put dry new purina grain in a separate feeder on the floor. he ate all of that by morning and left the soaked stuff (didn't even touch it). He's eating all or most of the soaked Orchard Grass. In fact, he will leave the grain and go for the soaked hay pellet.

    Last night I tried giving him dry grain. Sniffed it and walked away to go eat the hay pellet. I added a little bit of water to it and left him for the night. This morning, about 90% of the hay pellet was gone with the exception of what was on the bottom of the bucket. Didn't eat much grain but did consume some of it.

    At least he is eating something (hay pellet) but I would feel much better if he showed more pizzaz about eating some grain. He needs energy and fat to keep ticking.

    Maybe I should try mixing the hay pellet and grain again (this was his original diet) and see if he shows more interest again.

    But other than that I am out of games to play to try and get him to eat. I have 4 different types of grain in my feed room and none of them have really made him interested. You would think if you threw down some really delicious sweet feed in front of an always food fanatic pony he would go nuts. But he doesn't.

    Leave a comment:


  • pony baloney
    replied
    My horse choked on unsoaked grain after dental work. Now everything gets soaked, although lately he munches on hay with not much quidding; go figure.

    At this point, try not soaking it. Just keep an eye on him for choke symptoms. Scared the crap out of me I can tell you.

    Leave a comment:


  • little bit
    replied
    My aged pony just got tired of eating his Purina Sr so I would change feed, alternating between Purina, Triple Crown and Nutrina Sr. I also fed ground carrots or applesauce with his feed, Did this for many yrs. and he lived to be about 52.

    Leave a comment:


  • Cat Tap
    replied
    Maybe he associates eating with being locked in which he is obviously unhappy about.

    Leave a comment:


  • RMJacobs
    replied
    Originally posted by snaffle1987 View Post

    thanks. maybe ill set aside some not soaked tonight. But I worry that he would choke or something since he has no top molars left. He did finish just about everything overnight last night...then back to wanting to be outside instead of eating his breakfast. So he can eat it all... it's just a matter of whether or not he actually wants to put effort into it. It gets frustrating because if I let him out; he wanders out to the grassy area (which is mowed to stumps) and snacks all day (although he doesn't swallow anything). So he has an appetite.

    hopefully tonight we are back to eating again!
    I had three different horses that ate unsoaked Senior and Strategy in their toothless years, and it didn't cause choke. Two had totally smooth gums behind the incisors, and the third was the pony I wrote about--he had some molars left, but none opposed another tooth. He also grazed, but quidded the grass and spit it out. It's ironic that he finally got to live on unlimited pasture after having so little grass in Colorado, but he couldn't eat it by then. He was still a happy horse.

    Rebecca

    Leave a comment:


  • findeight
    replied
    I don’t think it has anything to do with him “wanting to put any effort into it” but more likely unable to put any effort into chewing and swallowing. That’s inherent survival behavior horses will do regardless of ability to do it properly...they’ll still try. It’s their nature.

    Leave a comment:


  • snaffle1987
    replied
    Originally posted by RMJacobs View Post
    My elderly pony was on Purina Senior, Purina Strategy, and timothy pellets, all soaked, when I moved him from Colorado to South Carolina. He wouldn't eat soaked pellets on the way, and would never eat that combo again even though the pellets were the same that he'd been getting, since I transported a lot of them with him. His new barn owner tried some different things, and determined that he wouldn't eat anything soaked any more. Since he didn't have any opposing molars, that was a problem for the pellets. Once he was on just Senior and Strategy, not soaked, he started eating everything served to him again.

    I don't know why he suddenly wouldn't eat anything soaked. If it was a local water issue, you would think he wouldn't drink well, but he drank just fine.

    I'm throwing this out in case it was a texture issue for my old guy, and could be a possibility for you.

    Rebecca
    thanks. maybe ill set aside some not soaked tonight. But I worry that he would choke or something since he has no top molars left. He did finish just about everything overnight last night...then back to wanting to be outside instead of eating his breakfast. So he can eat it all... it's just a matter of whether or not he actually wants to put effort into it. It gets frustrating because if I let him out; he wanders out to the grassy area (which is mowed to stumps) and snacks all day (although he doesn't swallow anything). So he has an appetite.

    hopefully tonight we are back to eating again!

    Leave a comment:


  • RMJacobs
    replied
    My elderly pony was on Purina Senior, Purina Strategy, and timothy pellets, all soaked, when I moved him from Colorado to South Carolina. He wouldn't eat soaked pellets on the way, and would never eat that combo again even though the pellets were the same that he'd been getting, since I transported a lot of them with him. His new barn owner tried some different things, and determined that he wouldn't eat anything soaked any more. Since he didn't have any opposing molars, that was a problem for the pellets. Once he was on just Senior and Strategy, not soaked, he started eating everything served to him again.

    I don't know why he suddenly wouldn't eat anything soaked. If it was a local water issue, you would think he wouldn't drink well, but he drank just fine.

    I'm throwing this out in case it was a texture issue for my old guy, and could be a possibility for you.

    Rebecca

    Leave a comment:


  • findeight
    replied
    Originally posted by findeight View Post
    Been around seniors who were experiencing similar. Try molasses drizzled on the feed. But its likely internal, tumor or something if they are showing an appetite and wanting to eat but either dont or cant. My own quit finishing up towards the end, pretty sure it was an internal melanoma , horse was just short of 30, robust and very into eating until a few months before the end. Once it started, the horse started to look frail and weight started to slide. We knew and didnt let it continue too long. Also made the choice not spend on clinic visits and advanced diagnostics.
    Replacing vanished post upthread.

    Leave a comment:


  • Texarkana
    replied
    OP, I'm going through something similar with my 33 y/o TB. Comes in to eat bright and nickering for his food, then won't clean up his meals. He's got no effective occlusal surfaces left, he doesn't even have any incisors. So when he's not eating his gruel, he's not getting any nutrition.

    It's frustrating as hell. Especially when they are otherwise bright and spunky.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bluey
    replied
    Originally posted by snaffle1987 View Post

    Separating the paddock may be done in the coming weeks. His friend can be a real piece of work. If I locked him in to eat the minimal amount he gets; he would be locked in for hours while his elderly roommate eats. He also does not like being locked in and will circle the stall for hours. So I have opted to lock the elderly man inside so he can eat in peace and be let out when he should be done eating.

    That currently is not working in the morning routine... as Oldman apparently wants to be outside not being able to consume anything in the AM. And will stand at his door not eating until he gets let out.

    I have 1 open small paddock but it has lots of grass in it. I worry Oldman would rather sit and graze on grass he cant consume than eat the meal that's been given to him. But it's worth a shot.

    But again; this all comes down to the health and well being of the animal and also my sanity.


    It is like a game, once you figure how to arrange so all their needs are sorted out, they change what they need, so we have to keep adjusting, best we can figure how.

    Glad that he is eating somewhat better now.

    Leave a comment:


  • snaffle1987
    replied
    double post...

    Leave a comment:


  • snaffle1987
    replied
    Originally posted by Bluey View Post
    Also consider if he may be better off by himself, so he can eat and graze and such as the mood hits, company across the fence, but not needing to lose food or be put in to protect his food?

    One more option, maybe, depending on your situation there.
    Separating the paddock may be done in the coming weeks. His friend can be a real piece of work. If I locked him in to eat the minimal amount he gets; he would be locked in for hours while his elderly roommate eats. He also does not like being locked in and will circle the stall for hours. So I have opted to lock the elderly man inside so he can eat in peace and be let out when he should be done eating.

    That currently is not working in the morning routine... as Oldman apparently wants to be outside not being able to consume anything in the AM. And will stand at his door not eating until he gets let out.

    I have 1 open small paddock but it has lots of grass in it. I worry Oldman would rather sit and graze on grass he cant consume than eat the meal that's been given to him. But it's worth a shot.

    But again; this all comes down to the health and well being of the animal and also my sanity.



    Leave a comment:


  • snaffle1987
    replied
    Update: I gave him his new soaked grain in his feeder last night and put a second bucket in his stall just for the soaked orchard grass. He seemed to really like the new stuff: This morning his feeder was cleaned dry of his grain and he had eaten most of the orchard grass with the exception of what was left on the very bottom of the bucket.

    However, he didn't have much interest in his grain this morning and didn't eat much. He just wanted to take a few bites and go back outside. So after being locked in for 2.5 hours and standing at his door beating on it; He is now outside trying to graze on what little grass he has.

    Little bastards can be so infuriating sometimes.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bluey
    replied
    Also consider if he may be better off by himself, so he can eat and graze and such as the mood hits, company across the fence, but not needing to lose food or be put in to protect his food?

    One more option, maybe, depending on your situation there.

    Leave a comment:


  • pony baloney
    replied
    My 34 yr. old Arab eats similar food (Kalm N EZ/Standlee timothy pellets, soaked) and does a similar thing in the summer. He's been on an antacid for a few months which helped him (but hasn't helped yours). Last summer we switched him to Tribute's Essential K (ration balancer) so he would get enough nutrition in a smaller meal. Maybe add fat somehow as well?

    I fear this will be my situation as well at some point in the future.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bluey
    replied
    If his friend is one problem, why not put his friend up with a little food and let the pony have the larger pasture and his food all for himself?
    Then after he is thru with his food, then let friend out.


    Have you asked your vet if alfalfa is really contraindicated?
    That is what most really old horses and ponies get around here when they don't eat well.
    Very nice, soft alfalfa, not the stemmy or too dry one.
    Even if they are quidding, they get some leaves out of it.

    Leave a comment:


  • Laurierace
    replied
    I would treat him for ulcers and go from there. It always got my old guy eating well again within a few days so I knew that meant I needed to do a full course then taper.

    Leave a comment:

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