Safety Tips for Vaccinating Your Horse

03/06/2017 by

Vaccinations are used primarily to prevent the spread of infectious diseases but are typically ineffective against irresponsible pet management practices. Below are some tips to help keep you and your horses happy and healthy: 

  • Avoid contact with sick or injured animals   
  • Quarantine new incoming animals (especially horses) 
  • Limit contact with new animals on trails, at shows, or in the wilderness
  • Do not use universal watering or feeding sources 
  • Keep your horse’s stress level down 
  • Vaccinate all herd or farm horses on schedule
  • Use the latest vaccination protocols                                                         


Vaccination schedules and strategies are important to the efficacy and safety of administering them. Remember, no vaccine is “one size fits all.” Universal equestrian vaccination recommendations are virtually impossible to make, depending on several factors, including but not limited to the following:

  • Sex of the horse
  • Age of the horse
  • Geographic location, and any indication of infectious disease thereof
  • Number of other horses on the premises
  • Exposure to outside horses
  • Exposure to other livestock
  • Exposure to sick or injured animals and/or humans
  • The horse’s job description (broodmare, show horse, race horse, etc.)

As always, vaccination schedules should be tailored to the individual horse. Owners are encouraged ro assess their horse’s need responsibly and to vaccinate against infectious and communicable diseases based on the following factors:

  • Risk
  • Disease consequence
  • Efficacy of the vaccine
  • Safety of the vaccine

While all vaccines have potential side effects that might possibly harm the animal, most of the time the benefits outweigh the risks. In general, all horses should be vaccinated for the following diseases upon reaching an appropriate age:

  • Tetanus
  • Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis
  • Western Equine Encephalomyelitis
  • West Nile Virus
  • Rabies

The need for other vaccinations such as Rhino virus, influenza, strangles, and Potomac horse fever is dependent on the location of the horse and any recommendation by the practicing veterinarian.