Rijkens' regular vet and dentist Dr. Mike Davis was out to the farm this week to give Rijkens a couple of his routine vaccinations. This spurred a conversation about how many vaccines should be given at one time, which vaccines to give, and the frequency with which to schedule the boosters.
Below I outline what I know to be the best practices for my horse, a 12 year old Holsteiner gelding in moderate to heavy dressage training with a full clinic and show schedule (he's off campus at least monthly).
I'll also define which diseases should and can be prevented with vaccination, and the frequency with which I have our vet administer them:
- Rhinopneumonitis, also called type 1 equine herpesvirus or EHV-1. The vaccine is called "flu/rhino" (a combo vaccine that includes influenza) and is given every 6 months.
- Influenza, given as the "flu/rhino" combo mentioned above, every 6 months.
- Strangles, also know as distemper. I choose to give Rijkens this vaccine every 6 months because he lives at a boarding stable with new horses coming and going often, and he also travels to clinics and show grounds where he is exposed to a lot of out-of-town horses.
- West Nile, a type of encephalitis, is given every 6 months because the Gulf South where Rijkens now lives is heavily populated with mosquitoes.
- Sleeping sickness, also called encephalitis, is protected against with a vaccine abbreviated "VEWT" which includes Venezuelan encephalitis, Eastern and Western encephalitis, and the "T" means it also includes tetanus. This combo injection called "VEWT" is given yearly.
- Tetanus; see the above bullet. Given as the "T" in a combo vaccination called "VEWT" yearly.
- Rabies; by Texas law horses get it yearly.
We rotate the every-six-month vaccines to fall at different times so he only has to get a couple shots on any one single day, with several months lead time in between. Common sense dictates I never schedule vaccinations within two weeks before a show or any other important off-campus outing.