While fall means cooler days, less bugs, and lovely riding weather, vaccinations are just as important heading into winter as they are in the spring. Most horse owners swear by spring shots, and nearly every boarding facility requires this at a minimum. However, when it comes to fall shots, requirements vary by area, risk type, and even individual preference. When it comes to making sure your horse is protected, fall shots in the NY/NJ/PA tri-state area are every bit as important as those vaccinations given in spring.
Most people associate spring vaccinations with the larger risk due to the presence of warmer weather and more equine events such as shows and competitions which means more horses trailering to various locations, which also means higher risk of exposure. With the warmer weather, there’s also a higher risk of mosquito-borne diseases, but many people don’t realize that mosquitoes can live and bite well into November, even in our area. In addition, other diseases such as equine influenza and the respiratory form of rhino are also prevalent and horse’s should be boostered in their fall vaccinations.
Strangles is another concern year-round, and regular vaccination can prevent horses that are exposed from developing symptoms. In one case in Sussex County, a farm with 40+ horses suffered an outbreak due to a non-symptomatic carrier horse exposing the core population there. The farm followed strict quarantine guidelines so as not to affect any nearby barns, and closely observed all horses on the property. Of the horses vaccinated, any horse vaccinated with the intramuscular injection at least 2x/year for 3 or more years did not become symptomatic. Horses that had not received regular vaccinations had symptoms ranging from mild to severe. The only exceptions to this were one older horse with a weakened immune system, and one pregnant mare which slightly increased her risk despite both of those being vaccinated regularly. And while strangles is rarely life threatening, it is a costly and time-consuming disease requiring extensive supportive care for affected horses, and significant quarantine to prevent spreading the disease to other farms. In cases such as this, it was clear that twice or more vaccination (more for horses who travel regularly) was the better and more affordable option.
Interested in reading more on equine vaccination guidelines? This great article from The Horse.com talks about planning for yearly vaccinations, and what you should be giving when. You can also read more about mosquito challenges in our area at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences website that covers everything from life cycle, diseases carried, and specific articles relating to equines as well.
Regardless of whether you are a casual equestrian or a year-round competitor, overlooking fall vaccinations can be a very costly mistake in the well begin of your horses. Take the time to book your farm call for fall shots today and make sure your horse is protected year round. Have any questions on what vaccinations are right for your horse? Drop us a line, or give us a call at (973) 579-1155 and we’re happy to help.