Vaccinating your horse provides protection against various infectious diseases. A course of vaccinations needs to be completed to ensure adequate protection. These normally involve 2-3 injections depending on the diseases you are vaccinating against followed by regular booster injections. Prevention is better than cure and vaccination is a key element in the fight against infectious disease.
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As a minimum requirement all horses, ponies and donkeys should be vaccinated against Tetanus. Tetanus is caused by Clostridium tetani which is found in the environment. This bacterium enters the blood via wounds. After an incubation period of 7-21days clinical signs become apparent. Often by this time the original wound may be healed and unnoticeable. Clinical signs include stiffness, muscle spasms, nostril flaring and a wide eyed expression. 90% of unvaccinated horses that develop tetanus die. To cover your horse against tetanus two injections should be administered 4-6 weeks apart followed by an annual booster. Thereafter boosters are only required every 2 years. Pregnant mares should be given a booster 4-6weeks prior to giving birth to provide protection through her milk for the first 6-12 weeks of life.
Influenza is a highly contagious viral disease of the respiratory system which is spread either by direct contact with a previously infected horse or indirectly through the air/environment. While symptoms often subside after a number of weeks the disease can develop into life-threatening bronchitis or pneumonia.
To cover your horse for influenza and tetanus, as per the Jockey Club guidelines, your horse needs to have a primary course.
Day Zero: first vaccination (against influenza and tetanus) is given.
21-92 days after the initial vaccination: second vaccination (against influenza and tetanus)
150-215 days after the 2nd vaccination: A booster of an influenza vaccination is given
After the third vaccination, your horse only needs an annual booster. This needs to be done before or on the date of the previous vaccination. Unfortunately if you go past the date, you will be required to re-start.
FEI regulations state these injections cannot be given 7 days immediately before a competition. FEI rules also state a booster must be given within 6 months before arriving at the FEI Event. This may be extended by a maximum of 21 days if necessary.
Pregnant mares should be vaccinated during the 5th, 7th and 9th months of pregnancy for Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) as an aid to reducing the risk of abortion.
Pregnant mares may also be vaccinated in 8th, 9th and 10th months against Rotavirus so as to provide cover to the foal against a potentially life threatening diarrhoea which may be evident within the first few weeks of life.