Horse Care


There are many equine vaccinations available in today’s market. It is important to choose the best vaccinations for your horse’s individual situation and needs.

At a minimum, all horses should be vaccinated for the fatal disease tetanus. 

  • Tetanus: It is caused by a clostridial spore present in normal soil. The spores enter the horse through a wound or hoof defect. It is often fatal once clinical signs appear. 
  • Two initial tetanus sensitizing vaccinations are required, given 4-6 weeks apart. 
  • Foals should receive their first dose at 3 months of age. 
  • After the initial 2 doses a third dose is given 1 year later, followed by a booster vaccination every 5 years. 
  • Pregnant mares should be boosted 4-6 weeks before foaling to ensure good colostral immunity to the foal. 

Any unvaccinated horse with a wound should receive a tetanus antitoxin (providing immediate short-term protection) as well as begin the above vaccination protocol. Foals born to unvaccinated mares or foals who have not received adequate colostrum should receive the antitoxin at birth to protect them while the umbilicus seals over. 

Other vaccines are available to aid in protection against the following. Discuss with one of our veterinarians if you feel any of them may be indicated to your individual situation. 

A highly contagious bacterial respiratory infection. Most cases recover but it can be fatal, especially in young horses. Vaccination is recommended, especially in horses traveling to equine events. The protocol can be combined with tetanus vaccinations. 

Equine Herpes Virus 4:
A major cause of acute respiratory disease, especially in younger horses. The vaccine is not fully protective but does reduce clinical signs of the disease. It is generally recommended for young performance horses in close quarters, ie. Racehorses. 

Equine Herpes Virus 1:
Vaccination is mainly used in broodmares to decrease the incidence of abortion.

Can result in diarrhea in adult horses or septicaemia (blood borne infection) &/or diarrhea in foals.& nbsp;

Causes diarrhea in foals.

Internal Parasites

Horses acquire internal parasites mainly through grazing infected pasture (fecal-oral route), but also by directly ingesting parasite eggs (ex. Bot flies lay eggs directly on the horse’s hairs and are ingested via grooming). 

Internal parasite burdens can result in decreased energy, dull coat, poor body condition, a ‘pot-belly’ appearance, diarrhea, and even colic. 

Roundworms, pinworms, and tapeworms can all affect horses. 

Parascaris equorum is a serious pathogen of foals, which can result in diarrhea, poor growth rate, colic, and sometimes death. Broodmares should be drenched 4 weeks before foaling to reduce shedding at this time. Foals should receive their first drench at 4-6 weeks of age. Parascaris equorum has been shown to be relatively resistant to ivermectin so this should be avoided in foals. 

Large strongyles, tapeworms, and cyathastomes can all result in colic in horses. Cyathastomes are also known as “red worms” due to their characteristic appearance in faeces. Fecal identification of cyathastome burdens is not as reliable as the larvae often encyst into the intestinal lining.  

Good internal parasite control relies on environmental and drench management. Avoiding high stocking rates, rotational grazing, and cross-species grazing may all be implemented to reduce pasture contamination. Removing faeces from pasture 2-3 times weekly helps to decrease exposure to contaminated areas, especially in small areas. Harrowing generally is not recommended as this tends to spread contamination – if it must be used spell pastures for 4 weeks afterwards or cross-species graze to reduce contamination. 

Drenches and timing of drenches depends on the individual horse and the environment. Younger horses are more susceptible and a regular drenching program should be used for horses under 3 years of age. Horses older than 3 years of age may be routinely drenched less frequently, or have a fecal egg count performed regularly to determine if drenching is required. Fecal egg counts help to identify horses more prone to internal parasite burdens (requiring more frequent drenching) as well as delay the development of resistance on your property. Internal parasite resistance to drench products is a serious issue and eventually can result in product inadequacy. 

At a minimum, all horses should be drenched in spring and autumn, with fecal egg counts performed between these. Depending on the situation, young horses may be drenched as frequently as every 6-8 weeks. New horses arriving onto the property should either have a fecal egg count performed or receive a combination quarantine drench and be kept separate for 7 days to decrease pasture contamination. Fecal egg counts may be performed anytime from 4-6 weeks after the last drench. Contact the Veterinary Centre to determine the best option for your property and horse/s.