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Yearly Vaccinations Important for All Horses By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · March 13, 2014

If your horses never leave the farm, you might think they don’t need annual vaccinations because they never interact with other horses, so they can’t be exposed to infections like strangles. While it’s true that these horses are safe from diseases that are spread between horses, their health is not guaranteed because many equine ailments don’t require contact with other members of the species. For this reason, the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recommends a core group of vaccinations that should be given to all healthy, mature horses every year.   

On the AAEP’s list are vaccinations to protect against eastern and western equine encephalomyelitis and West Nile virus, all of which are spread by mosquitoes; rabies, which can result from the bite of an infected wild or domestic animal; and tetanus, a danger whenever a horse acquires an injury, particularly one that penetrates deep into its body tissue.

Owners should check with local veterinarians to decide the best time of year to give these vaccinations. For the most complete protection against mosquito-borne infections, the horse needs some time to develop full immunity between the date of the injection and the start of warm weather. In areas with a heavy mosquito population, the veterinarian may suggest a second vaccination after six months.

Depending on the region and the incidence of particular diseases, veterinarians may recommend other vaccines for horses that travel to shows, trail rides, or breeding facilities.