Routine Vaccination of your Horse

It is extremely important to have your horse routinely vaccinated by your veterinary surgeon against tetanus, equine influenza and ideally equine herpes virus. Veterinary advice should be sought on an effective vaccination programme.

Tetanus is a disease that has an incubation period of between one and three weeks and is caused by bacteria entering the system through often unnoticed deep cuts and puncture wounds. The first signs of the disease include stiffness and reluctance to move. Tetanus can prove fatal and therefore vaccination is essential.

Equine Influenza (flu) is a contagious viral respiratory disease that debilitates the horse and leaves it susceptible to secondary infection. Symptoms include a clear discharge from the nostrils, along with a cough and a rise in temperature. The incubation period for equine influenza is only 1–5 days, with many horses remaining infectious for 3–6 days after the onset of clinical signs. Many equestrian organisations insist that horses hold current vaccination cards showing continuous cover, and vaccination against influenza is now mandatory for all horses using racecourse premises. Equine herpes virus is another viral respiratory disease that can cause loss of form. Over 75% of horses are carriers of the virus and symptoms include fever, nasal discharge and coughing which can last for up to three weeks. Some types of the herpes virus can cause abortion in pregnant mares and paralysis of in-contact horses. Continuous cover and vaccination against influenza is now mandatory for all horses using racecourse premises. Guidelines vary according to regulatory bodies. As a general guideline the Jockey Club Rules are as follows:


  • Primary Vaccination
  • * Foals from 3 months of age from vaccinated mares
  • 2 injections 4–6 weeks apart
  • Booster at intervals of 18–30 months
  • * Foals’ vaccination start times depend on their ability to respond to vaccination as well as their dam’s vaccination history

Flu & Tetanus

  • Vaccinate foals at 5 months of age
  • Initial vaccination for starting primary course
  • 2nd vaccination at 21 – 90 days for flu and tetanus
  • 3rd vaccination at 5 –7 month interval for flu (150 – 215 days)
  • Thereafter annual boosters at no more than 364 day intervals
  • For FEI registered horses vaccinations should be every 6 months or within 6 months of competition

If you are not sure when your vaccination is due by, try using this calculator.

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