Protecting your horses

by kentucky4h

Source: Fernanda Camargo, equine extension specialist

Few things say spring in Kentucky like horses. Chances are if you are in the 4-H Horse Program you’ve been working diligently to prepare your horse for spring and summer shows, trail rides and camps. One important aspect to never forget is springtime vaccinations.

Traveling, showing and being around unfamiliar horses are very stressful situations for horses and can negatively affect a horse’s immune system. If your horses have not been properly vaccinated, they are more likely to become sick while away, and they also may infect your other horses once they return to your farm.

All horses should receive annual vaccinations for tetanus, Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis, West Nile virus and rabies. Since Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis and West Nile virus are both transmitted by mosquitoes, it’s important for you to have your horses vaccinated as soon as possible. Other vaccinations you may want to consider for your performance horses include equine herpes virus and influenza. If you don’t already have a vaccination schedule, talk to your veterinarian about starting one.

You can also take preventative measures on your farm to decrease your horses’ risk to mosquito exposure. Some simple things to do include eliminating stagnant water sources like old tires or buckets, making sure barn gutters are free of standing water and other debris, regularly flush waterers and remove tall vegetation around fence rows and property boundaries, as mosquitoes will seek shelter in these during the day.

If your horses do get sick, they should be on strict rest for one week for every day they have a fever. After that, they can gradually return to work.

More information on equine care is available through the 4-H youth development agent at the (COUNTY NAME) Cooperative Extension Service.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.