If the mounds of horse hair on the barn floor are a reliable indicator, spring has arrived. You may want to enjoy the beautiful spring weather by squeezing in a few extra rides. Spring brings its own set of responsibilities for horse owners, though. One of the items that should be at the top of your to-do list is scheduling your horse’s spring vaccinations, if you haven’t already done so. Spring vaccinations are a critical part of any good equine management plan. Putting in the time and effort to schedule vaccines now will keep your horse healthy in the coming months, giving you more time to enjoy pleasant days on horseback.
When you reach out to schedule your horse’s spring vaccinations with its veterinarian, you will be able to discuss vaccination options with your veterinarian to determine which vaccines your horse should be receiving. It will be helpful if you have some understanding of what vaccines your veterinarian might consider and why. I’m here to help you out by walking you through some of the most common vaccines and which horses might need to receive them.
To begin with, it’s important to understand that vaccines can be broken into two broad categories: core and risk-based. The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recommends all horses receive the core vaccines. Risk-based vaccines, on the other hand, are only administered to horses who are at higher risk of contracting the disease. This is where a conversation with your veterinarian becomes important as he or she will be able to help you understand your horse’s risk status and decide which vaccines would be the most important.
The core vaccines include eastern and western equine encephalomyelitis (EEE & WEE), rabies, tetanus, and West Nile Virus (WNV). These vaccines are recommended for every horse, as horses are likely to exposed to these diseases regardless of geographical location and horses infected with these diseases have high mortality (death) rates. Most of these vaccines are administered once a year, which is why spring vaccinations are such an important thing to have on your calendar. EEE, WEE, and WNV may be given twice a year, if you live in an area with a warm, wet climate for much of the year. These conditions provide the perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes which are vectors (I looked this up. It means the mosquitoes can carry the disease and transmit it to horses.) for these diseases.
The risk-based vaccines include anthrax, botulism, equine herpesvirus (EHV), influenza, equine viral arteritis, leptospirosis, Potomac horse fever, rotaviral diarrhea, snake bite, strangles, and Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis (VEE). Whether these vaccines should be administered to your horse depends on a multitude of factors including its stage of life, how often it travels, its geographic location, and how often it comes into contact with other horses. This is all information your should have in your mind when you approach your veterinarian to discuss your horse’s vaccination schedule.
All of these choices and this information may have your head spinning. The most important thing to remember, however, is to contact your veterinarian to get your horse’s spring vaccination appointment on the calendar. If you need a helpful chart on hand for the call and discussion, you can check out our resource on core vaccines for adult horses and risk-based vaccines for adult horses.
I need to go chat with the staff at the Equine Science Center to make sure they’ve actually scheduled my spring vaccinations. My calendar fills up quickly with all of the events at the Center and my busy work schedule. I also have to make sure there’s room in my calendar for plenty of dozing in the sunshine and munching on doughnuts.
Until Next Time.