Having your horse vaccinated helps them to fight off disease

Our vaccination programmes ensure that your horse is protected against serious (and sometimes fatal) diseases. 

Vaccinations stimulate your horse’s immune system to fight a specific disease. By injecting a product that mimics the disease-causing agent, your horse’s immune system will remember how to fight it off if it comes across the real thing later in life.

How often do I need to vaccinate?

Most vaccines require an initial course of injections a few weeks apart to establish good immunity followed by annual boosters to maintain full continued protection.

The more common vaccinations include:


Tetanus is caused by a bacteria (Clostridium tetani) that is found widespread in the soil and can become established in even the smallest of cuts.

Once a horse is infected with tetanus approximately 90% will die. Horses that survive require intensive veterinary treatment and nursing care for approximately 6 weeks, so prevention is definitely better than cure.

An initial course of 2 injections are given 4 weeks apart (usually given combined with first 2 ‘flu vaccinations), a first booster is given after 1 year and then every 18-24 months thereafter.

Pregnant mares should receive a tetanus booster 4-6 weeks before they are due to foal to ensure there are lots of tetanus antibodies in the colostrum for the foal as the foal will not be born with any immunity to tetanus.

Foals can also be given a tetanus anti-toxin injection (‘antidote’ to tetanus) at birth which will cover them for 3-4 weeks, and can be repeated. Foals can be vaccinated as above from 6 months of age.

Equine influenza (EI)

A highly contagious disease affecting the respiratory system, caused by several strains of influenza virus.

Horses can ‘catch’ the virus directly from an infected horse, or from contaminated environments or in the air.

Influenza can cause coughing, nasal discharge, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy and can take many weeks to recover from.

Occasionally this can develop into a life-threatening pneumonia or bronchitis, which can leave a horse debilitated.

Horses should have the first 2 vaccinations for EI given 21-92 days apart. The first booster (3rd vaccination) is due 150-215 days after the 2nd injection.After this initial course the vaccination is required every 365 days so if you miss your vaccination due date you would be required to start the whole course again.

More frequent vaccination may be required in the face of an outbreak.

Find out more about competition organisors rules and equine influenza.

Equine Herpes Virus 1&4 (EHV1,4)

EHV1,4 can cause three syndromes: respiratory disease, abortion or neurological/paralytic form.

The most common form is the respiratory disease, which most horses will have at some point in their lives. It causes a nasal discharge, cough, fever and poor-performance.

Pregnant mares can abort up to 100 days after becoming infected. In a stud by the time one mare has aborted the other mares may already be infected.

The neurological/paralytic form is rarer, and can cause weakness which may lead to recumbency and death.

Pregnant mares should be vaccinated at five, seven and nine months of pregnancy.

Vaccination in other horses is much less common, and there are no Jockey Club or FEI requirements for it. However vaccination may be beneficial in high performing horses to avoid reduced performance and time off work during recovery.

Vaccination consists of two initial injections four to six weeks apart and then 6 monthly boosters to maintain immunity.


Rotavirus is a cause of viral diarrhoea in foals.

Vaccinating mares at eight, nine and ten months of pregnancy is recommended to increase the level of rotavirus antibody in the colostrum, thereby helping to prevent diarrhoea outbreaks in foals. Good hygiene and population management in stud farms are also essential for prevention.


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