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Senior horse prone to choke - feed suggestions?

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  • Senior horse prone to choke - feed suggestions?

    My golden oldie senior pony has had several episodes of choke before he came to board with me. I've been feeding him very well soaked TC Senior for almost 2 years. The new bag of senior seems to be a different consistency and he's been having trouble dropping a lot of senior mush, stretching his neck and squeaking after he eats. No teeth, well they are there, but they are worn down to nothing. No chewing surfaces.

    So, I talked to the vet and his owner. The vet suggested a non-pelleted feed. The owner has feed beet pulp pellets and alfalfa pelllets with oil in the past when she couldn't get senior. He seems to be fine with soaked hay cubes.

    He's getting about 4 lbs of TC Senior right now, with nice pasture. In the winter he gets 7 to 9 lbs of Senior and soaked hay cubes at his night check.

    Last edited by LauraKY; Sep. 6, 2012, 08:08 PM.

  • #2
    Try Hay Stretcher crumbles, moistened. I'm having great luck with this vs. the TC Senior. More palatable; I'm getting a lot more weight of feed in them for the money, and no chokes knock on wood!


    • #3
      Do you soak with water or with oil?
      "Horse Sense is a thing a horse has that keeps it from betting on people." - W. C. Fields


      • #4
        My old guy (now 35) has few usable teeth as well. He has been on a no hay diet for almost two years now. I found regular beet pulp shreds still tough for him to eat. I switched him to a combination of Speedi-Beet and Fibre-Beet (pricey to buy, but I go through less than regular beet pulp, so it actually worked out cheaper in the long run and he looks so much better!). I soak it with lots of water with his senior pellets and supplements. He didn't like soaked alfalfa cubes so with the Fibre-Beet he is still getting some "hay stuff"

        I do find if he has snatched some hay from his neighbor or tries to eat grass on our walks he does show choking signs when he eats his regular dinner. I think he hangs on to "his hay" and grass as long as he can in his mouth, but when it is time for mash, they are in the way. Now it is the joke that he needs to get rid of his hay spit-wads before dinner

        Could your pony have grass (you mentioned pasture) that is getting in the way? The senior pellets I use (Nutrena Life Design, not my favorite, but what the barn will provide) turn to complete mush with water. I often will add extra water right before I feed it so it less clumpy as well.

        Good luck!
        Becky & Raalph
        Becky & Red
        In Loving Memory of Gabriel, 1998-2005 and Raalph, 1977-2013


        • #5
          I have had good luck with water soaked TC Senior for my 22 year old choker....the other thing I do is feed him from a pan on the floor, and I have not (knock on wood) had any chokes since putting his feeder on the floor.

          As an FYI-the 1st time he choked was on Nutrena Senior, then Purina-both were pelleted. The texture of the TC Senior agrees with him.

          Good Luck
          West of nowhere


          • Original Poster

            He's been doing fine on TC Senior for almost two years. This just started with the last bag. I soaked it down to absolute mush last night...watery mush. He still had a little problem.

            My vet says that the fine pellets, when soaked, can form a bolus in the throat. He has no problem with very well soaked hay cubes.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Pip Pip View Post
              Do you soak with water or with oil?
              I use water; if you HAVE to use oil, use rice bran oil--I've had good luck with that. It doesn't go rancid like corn oil but it IS pricey!


              • #8

                have you talked to McCauley's ?

                They have such a variety of feeds, in all different forms, there may be something they can suggest.


                and they are close to you.
                \"Horses lend us the wings we lack\"


                • #9
                  If he does well other wise on the TC senior then slow cooking it in a crockpot for at least 6 hrs and adding roughly ~1/8 cup oil for every lb you are feeding might do the trick.

                  It will swell the fibers with moisture to a much greater extent than soaking alone.

                  Grains will also swell and gel during cooking. Just for example whole roasted soybeans look like little grapes and whole oats will explode out of their hull. You can very easily pinch these with slight finger pressure.

                  Use a crockpot on a timer and set it to turn off about 1hr before feding time so it has a chance to cool.


                  • Original Poster

                    I just got off the phone with Triple Crown. Since this just started with the last bag of feed, they recommended that I buy a new bag from a different lot. They're checking with the mill to see if anything was different about that particular batch and they're sending me a coupon for a free bag. Have I said how much I love Triple Crown?

                    So, we'll see how he does with the new bag.


                    • #11
                      Before I lost my old guy, he was doing really well on a combo of very well soaked TC Senior (used enough hot water to make it soupy) with Buckeye Grow N Win and Ultimate Finish added. He had teeth, but the incisors had gotten so long that the back teeth weren't actually meeting any longer. I also supplemented that with chopped alfalfa forage (he liked the Lucerne Farms brand best) and soaked alfalfa pellets (which needed at least 30 minutes of hot water soaking to break down enough to feed him). (And pasture - our mild winter last year was a very lucky break for me, as he did a lot of grazing (and quidding) - don't know how much nutrition he got out of the grass, but I think it was great for his mental well-being.)

                      He was very messy about eating, though - some of it was his inability to chew well, and some was clearly a personality issue - he'd take a bite and then lift his head and look around. He dropped a significant amount of food on the ground, so I bought him a rubber mat to feed him on - he'd lick up just about everything he dropped if given the chance, so it was well worth the money and the extra time to sweep it up before each meal.

                      Best of luck with your old one, Laura!


                      • #12
                        Laura, my OTTB filly was a choker when she came to me from the track- I gave her TC Senior as that's what I feed everyone else here. Even soaked to mush, fed on the ground, and with a cup of oil, she would still choke on occasion.
                        At my vet's advice I switched to Blue Seal Sentinel Senior, which I would soak and add oil to, and she ate that without any issues. It soaks down the the consistency of gruel, and you don't get those 'beet pulp clumps'.
                        Good luck, and thanks for taking such great care of another golden oldie


                        • #13
                          Jingles and pm fivehorses = 'wealth' of choke information esp Feed ~

                          Jingles & AO ~

                          only suggestion is to contact 'fivehorses' on coth as she is a 'wealth' of information on'choke' esp in regards to feed and nutrition

                          has been through many vets ~ clinics and is maintaining a serious chronic 'choke'

                          Good Luck ~
                          Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                          • #14
                            also make sure they are NOT fed in a group competitve feed situation, which is what caused my boys one episode.
                            Appy Trails,
                            Kathy, Cadet & CCS Silinde
                            member VADANoVA www.vadanova.org


                            • Original Poster

                              I don't have access to Blue Seal, McCauley's is actually quite a distance from me to pick up. I'm going to try the new bag...fingers crossed it was just this batch.

                              He's fed inside, in a stall, never outside in a group. I'm wondering if he's rushing at night. I'm down to two horses, the pony boarder and a retired QH, I'm wondering if he's rushing because I've already turned out the QH. I'll have to change that up and see if it's a difference. Up until this summer, I've always had at least 4 horses in the barn and he was always turned out last...by the time it was his turn he was finished eating, now I have to wait for him.


                              • #16
                                For my almost 30 y.o. TB gelding (who also has very little molar surface left!), I switched from a moistened pelleted Senior feed to Coolstance 2x a day. You add water to, but it takes like a minute for it to fully absorb the water so no waiting around. I also add vitamins and a fat supplement - Powerstance (I like that I can control how much fat he gets and dole out accordingly for his needs).

                                Much easier to eat and lots less waste! He does still get BP shreds and alfalfa cubes soaked once a day too since hay is also "non-chewable" for him!
                                View my photographs at www.horsephotoguy.zenfolio.com


                                • #17
                                  I don't know if you have followed any of my threads on my mare...been thru a lot the last few years.
                                  She was and is a choker...but for different reasons than just teeth or the usual culprits.

                                  Anyhow, the long and short of it, and why I am posting is because of your tc situation.

                                  TC senior...I love it too, and I love the reps and they have been super good to me...gave me an auto feeder, coupons for a cazillion feed, etc...so I feel kind of guilty about posting this.

                                  My mare has to eat mash due to an esphogeal diverticulum due to constant and years of choke. So, I would soak her tc senior, and found many large beet pulp shreds...as in the size of my pinky finger.
                                  Well, she can't digest that for one, but more importantly, chances of getting stuck increases.

                                  I am on the fence regarding beet pulp too. I was there, well I was the one to find a neighbor's horse who choked on beet pulp, and later died(most likely from a perforated esphogus from tubing by the vet to relieve the choke or ruptured esphogus from the choking). Soooo, beet pulp is not the wonder feed imo that should be given without consideration. Beet pulp was the problem, but I think aggressive tubing did the horse in really.

                                  TC knows about the recently larger particles of beet pulp in their senior, my university vet spoke to them, and I spoke to them.

                                  I do feed triple crown senior to my other 8 horses without incident. I even feed beet pulp in winter too. So, although I have made the above statements, I am also aware of the risks. My other horses are knock wood, normal and do not have maintenance issues.

                                  My mare...strictly mash, and not beet pulp based. If I can't suck it thru a straw, it ain't going into her grain dish.

                                  Just thought I'd pipe in here for what its worth.
                                  save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                                  • Original Poster

                                    I appear to have fixed the problem. New bag soaks and breaks apart much better than the old bag, and, since I suspect he may be rushing through dinner because my other horse is already turned out, I'm giving them 30 minutes to eat before turnout. No problems since I changed. I'm also soaking the TC senior longer.