I've been a little concerned about my coming 4 year old Rocky Mountain tonight. He's not really been finishing his hay (which is in a net) for the last couple of days, though he grazes when he's out, and scarfs down his dinner (which is forage and supplements, soaked) normally. I checked temperature, heartbeat, manure, all is normal. He's not showing any colic signs.
When I did a night check, he still had more hay in his net than I'd have expected.
I gave him some loose hay, then observed his behavior. He ate that fine, but he'd chew for a bit, then pause, freezing, for a second. Rather like if I was watching a video and just hit the pause for a second. Then he'd continue. He seems in no distress when he does this. He doesn't tense, that I can see.
Could he have a jaw issue, like TMJ problems? It occurs to me that if he did, it might be painful to pull hay from the net, but easier to graze or eat hay off the ground. Is there any way for me to check this?
I have an email in to my vet, but it'll probably be a couple days before he replies, and this is not an emergency to call him out on a weekend.
If I see him chewing like that tomorrow, thinking of giving him a little bute and seeing if the behavior vanishes, but looking for suggestions on what this might be ("nothing" is an acceptable answer!) and what I can to to confirm or narrow down if there's a problem and if so, what it might be.
Thanks for any replies.