Which vaccines should horses have heading into show season?

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Wednesday 27 March - 11h27 | Ian Clayton

Which vaccines should horses have heading into show season?

As the seasons change and more and more outdoor equestrian competitions and events appear on the horizon, the issue of horse vaccines remains fundamentally important, whatever the level of the rider. 

 - Which vaccines should horses have heading into show season?

Credit : Jordan Kiviniemi-Moore (Facebook)

This week, the question of which vaccines horses should have if their owners are planning to show this year was treated by Jordan Kiviniemi-Moore, DVM, cVMA in The Horse. 

“Vaccine selection is typically based on the risks and benefits for the individual horse,” explains Kiviniemi-Moore of the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. “Ultimately, you’ll want to work with your veterinarian to determine your horse’s risk for various diseases.”

Nevertheless, despite the individual context to consider, she explains that there are some broad guidelines to follow, starting with core vaccines: “The American Veterinary Medical Association defines ‘core vaccines’ as those ‘that protect from diseases that are endemic to a region, those with potential public health significance, required by law, virulent/highly infectious, and/or those posing a risk of severe disease,’” she writes. That category has been defined in the U.S. as including: Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitisRabiesTetanus; and West Nile virus.

In addition, the veterinarian notes, “horses participating in events such as shows or sales are at a heightened risk for pathogens spread by contact (direct or indirect) with other horses” – most notably, equine influenza and equine herpes virus. Thus, other specific risk-based vaccines such as strangles, botulism and Potomac horse fever can be considered depending on circumstances. 

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