Vaccination

Proactive Protection


Vaccinations are an important part of preventative medicine for all horses. Additionally, many equestrian sport governing bodies (including BHA, FEI, BE) require up-to-date vaccination records to enable horses to compete under their rules.

 

TETANUS:

Every horse should be vaccinated against tetanus. Horses are particularly susceptible to tetanus infection which usually proves fatal.  Infection occurs via open, surgical or puncture wounds or through exposed tissue (i.e. umbilicus of foal or retained placental membranes in broodmares).

 

Tetanus is not a contagious disease. Vaccination against tetanus is highly effective in preventing the occurrence of the disease. Tetanus is often given as a combined vaccine with influenza but can be given on its own.

 

Primary course: Two vaccinations 4-6 weeks apart

First booster: 12-months after primary course

Subsequent boosters: Every 2 years

                       

Broodmares should receive a tetanus booster vaccination 4-6 weeks prior to foaling to ensure high colostral antibody levels.

 

Foals should ideally receive tetanus antitoxin as part of a post-foaling check shortly after birth to supplement protection from colostral antibodies. Foals can begin their primary vaccination course from 5 months of age.

 

INFLUENZA:

Equine influenza is an extremely infectious viral disease which spreads rapidly between horses via respiratory droplets or from objects that have come into contact with infected particles. Any horse that comes into contact with others should be vaccinated against influenza.

The specific requirements for vaccination differ between equine sport governing bodies. We recommend following the BHA rules (which most organisations including BE, BD, Pony Club etc conform to) unless you are competing under FEI rules.

 

Records of influenza vaccinations must be documented in the horse’s passport with each entry signed by the veterinary surgeon who gave the vaccine in order to comply with the rules of the governing bodies. Influenza is often combined with tetanus in a single injection.

 

BHA Rules 2020 (Amended 01-04-2020):

Primary course: Two vaccinations 21-92 days apart        

Initial booster: 150-215 days after the primary course. This equates to approx. 5-7 months

Subsequent boosters: Within 12 months of the date of the previous booster

 

NO VACCINATION MAY HAVE BEEN GIVEN WITHIN 7 DAYS OF RACING/ ARRIVAL AT RACE COURSE STABLES

 

FEI Rules:

Primary course: Two vaccinations 21-92 days apart

Initial booster: Within 7 calendar months of the second part of primary course     

Subsequent booster vaccinations:

Minimum: Within 1 year of the date of the previous booster vaccination

Competing: Within 6 calendar months + 21 days of the date of the previous booster vaccination

 

NO VACCINATION MAY HAVE BEEN GIVEN WITHIN 7 DAYS OF COMPETITION/ ARRIVAL AT COMPETITION STABLES

 

EQUINE HERPES VIRUS:

Equine herpes is a ubiquitous horse virus. The majority of horses will have been exposed to herpes by the time they are two years of age.

 

The two most common strains are EHV-1, which causes respiratory disease (most commonly in foals and weanlings, often in the autumn and winter), neurological disease and abortion (often ‘abortion storms’), and EHV-4 which causes respiratory disease and very occasionally individual abortions. 

 

Immunity following infection is short-lived with the virus often establishing a latent infection. Vaccination is possible but again immunity from vaccination is short-lived with frequent boosters required to maintain immunity. None of the current vaccines offer protection against the neurological form of the disease.

 

 

Adult non-breeding horses:

Due to the short-lived immunity resulting from vaccination and the mild (if any) clinical signs associated with respiratory disease in adult horses routine vaccination is rarely indicated. Exceptions to this include:

  • Horses under 5 years of age (especially those in training/ competition)

  • Horse exposed to youngstock or broodmares (i.e. on studs)

  • Race/ high-performance horses (EHV has been suggested as contributing to underperformance. These horses are also at an increased risk of exposure due to mixing at competitions and may be suffering from exercise-induced immune suppression)

 

Where vaccination is indicated we recommend the following vaccination schedule:

Primary course: Two vaccinations 4-6 weeks apart

Subsequent boosters: Every 3 months

 

Broodmares:

EHV can cause epidemic abortion or the birth of weak, nonviable foals. Abortion typically occurs weeks to months after exposure to the virus – for this reason there is little virtue in commencing vaccination in the face of an abortion storm. Vaccination does not guarantee immunity but does reduce the risk of abortion.

 

Vaccinations @ 5, 7, and 9 months of gestation

In high-risk situations it may be advisable to give an earlier vaccination at 3 months of gestation.

 

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