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Equine Vaccinations

Those of us who participate in equine endeavours often struggle to determine if we need to vaccinate, what for, and how often. What we do know, is that vaccination is a vital component of equine health management, helping prevent health hazards in the equine population.


Everyone should consider tetanus cover as a bare minimum for their horses.


One or two clinical cases pop up every few years in practice and they are invariably fatal. Two injections a month apart covers the primary course and then boosters every second year or as recommended when considered high risk (eg. following deep penetrating wounds).


It’s a good idea to vaccinate pregnant mares in their last trimester to ensure good colostral antibody transfer to foals until they can start their own vaccination programs after 3 months of age.



Competing horses travelling to events frequently should consider strangles cover, which can be combined with tetanus boosters (2 in 1) easily at very little extra cost. A primary course for strangles consists of three injections a month apart with annual boosters.

Equine Rotavirus and Salmonella

These additional though less commonly used vaccines are available for pregnant mares to improve passive (colostrum) neonatal immunity in high-risk situations usually when there has been a recent history of disease on or near a property.


Equine Herpes Virus

Pregnant mares can also be vaccinated against EHV to protect against abortion: three injections at 5, 7 and 9 months gestation (flexible).


Incidence of EHV causing abortion in NZ appears to be low but any mare is susceptible and EHV is common. The vaccination has not been shown to protect against the neurological form that has been a hot topic in Europe recently (2021).

EHV vaccines also provide protection against the respiratory forms of EHV infection: a common cause of respiratory disease. Coughs, increased respiratory rate, malaise, poor performance = time off work. It’s a favoured vaccine for the equine athlete to protect performance and reduce time off work and competition.