Guilford pony that choked on carrot improving, his spirit is ‘why he’s still alive,’ owner says

GUILFORD - Trinket, a 33-year-old pony that nearly died after he was fed a carrot he couldn’t chew or digest properly, is on the mend, but not completely out of danger.

The pony remains at New England Equine Practice in New York state, where his condition is improving but guarded, according to his owner.

Trinket ended up in the equine hospital after someone inadvertently fed the mini-Shetland pony a carrot that brought on choke, a condition that occurs when something gets lodged in a horse’s esophagus. His owner, Martha Russo, attributed his improving health to his friendly and lovable personality.

“He’s a very special boy,” said Russo. “He has a delightful personality. He’s a talker.”

“He loves kids,” she said. “When he hears the sounds of children, he is automatically attracted to them. He talks to all of the neighbors and greets all the neighbors and I think that’s why he’s still alive.”

The carrot created the problem because the elderly animal has no molars and could not chew it, according to Russo.

Initially treated locally, Trinket was taken late Tuesday afternoon from his home at Medad Stone Tavern in Guilford to New England Equine Practice in Patterson, N.Y., where the vets were able to dislodge the carrot pieces. On Thursday afternoon, Trinket’s condition was improving but guarded.

Since arriving in New York, the stallion has had his stomach biopsied, chest X-rayed for pneumonia, and had ultrasounds and X-rays of his esophagus, his owner said. He remains on intravenous fluids and antibiotics, Russo said.

Russo said his lab reports are looking better than when he was first admitted.

“His labs were trending back to normal,” she said. “When he came in, they said, ‘Your pony is very sick.’”

“He was extremely dehydrated because he couldn’t drink for three days,” she said. “Horses need a lot of water.”

Now, Russo said, “he is starting to drink small amounts, just small amounts without it coming out his nose. Which is really good news.”

She added that they are hoping to soon start feeding him a watery gruel.

Russo said at one point she considered euthanizing the elderly Trinket because his condition was so grave.

“For three days that poor horse was struggling,” said Russo. “I kept thinking, ‘He’s going to be dead.’”

“He had the shakes, the sweats, breathing heavy,” she added. “We dug a grave for him.”

The urging of neighbors and members of the Medad Stone Tavern community garden helped Russo to decide to continue medical treatment instead of euthanizing the sick pony.

Trinket was treated the first two days by Erin Trawick-Smith of Millington Equine in East Haddam.

“I probably spent two-and-a-half hours with him on Sunday morning and then we spent another chunk of time with him on Sunday night,” recalled Trawick-Smith.

“His esophagus is probably fairly on par with our own,” she said.

“You would not do very well if you swallowed — some of those pieces that we saw were an inch-and-a-half wide and well over an inch long,” Trawick-Smith said. “If that gets lodged in the right direction, we would not be able to handle it.”

Trawick-Smith, Trinket’s primary vet, said even when Trinket was ill and waiting for transport to New York, he was showing his playful side.

“He’s such a little trooper,” she said. “We were there waiting for a trailer and school children walked by and he nickers to them. He’s the most darling little animal. He loves children and he was talking to us even though he was suffering.”

Trinket also has a special bond with the other equine at Medad Stone Tavern, 30-year-old Frosty.

“They’re inseparable,” Russo said. “Frosty is crying. He’s probably there crying right now. He’s so lonely and miserable. He actually nipped at me. First he gets sad and cries and then he gets mad at me.”

Trinket inadvertently was fed the carrot, despite signage at the Medad Stone Tavern that says, “Please Do Not Feed the Horses,” which apparently was ignored by visitors. Since the incident, more signs have been posted, in addition to notices about the property being private.

The Medad Stone Tavern is under the auspices of the Guilford Keeping Society and, while members have full access to the grounds, Robert Hartmann, Guilford Keeping Society president, noted the new signs state, “This is private property, please respect it as such.”

Hartmann noted the outpouring of support for Trinket.

“So many people want to help,” he said. “Guilford’s that kind of place. Volunteerism and looking after one another is something that we’ve always done.”

Russo was “ecstatic” about the reports of improvements to Trinket’s condition and “overwhelmed with gratitude” for the public’s support.

Ashley Griffin of Guilford created a GoFundMe page to help with mounting medical expenses for Trinket. As of Thursday evening, some $8,000 had been raised, toward an $18,000 goal.

Russo said the bill for the first day alone was more than $2,100.

Contact Sarah Page Kyrcz at