Ask the Vet: Preparing for a New Foal

Question: I am an owner of an equine facility. I require my boarders to have appropriate vaccines instructed by our veterinarian. Many of our boarders haul in and out for events, hence exposed to different environments. However, it is not local protocal to require proof of vaccines for horses that are hauling in for lessons or an event held at my facility. How do I assure my boarders that haul in horses do not put the board horses at risk of additional exposure without proof of vaccinations? I am also concerned about diseases to broodmares that are present at my facility

Answer: This is a good question and a common concern in facilities with many horses that come and go. Couple that with haul-in lessons and shows or events that occur at your facility, it can get complicated. I will give you some recommendations that you might want to consider.

It is widely accepted and usually required that all horses coming to a facility for an event or show should have a negative coggins test within 12 months. This should not be difficult to require. For return clients, such as those taking lessons, you can keep a copy of the coggins in your file, and request a copy annually.

Vaccine requirements are a bit more difficult. To keep this simple, I would limit vaccination requirements to Influenza and EHV1 and EHV4 (equine rhinopneumonitis). There has been much press about EHV outbreaks at racetracks and equestrian events. There are event facilities in my area (Texas) that require proof of vaccination within 6 months. FEI regulations are to be vaccinated no closer than 21 days before a competition and no later than 6 months.

These two viral infections are highly contagious and have caused quarantine of affected facilities. Vaccine protocols can vary for other diseases and you likely do not want to impose your requirements on those whose veterinarian might have a different protocol.

For example, some veterinarians may recommend Strangles vaccination (another respiratory contagious disease) for all show horses. Others may consider those over 5 years old, or, those that have had the disease unnecessary to vaccinate.

EHV is a cause of abortion in mares, and it is common to vaccinate pregnant mares at the 5th 7th and 9th month of pregnancy. Just one other reason you might want to require all horses entering your facility to have proof of vaccination within 6 months.

Bottom line, you can require whatever you wish on horses coming to your facility. You can make it so complicated that you lose business, or, rational requirements will keep your boarders happier and help minimize disease outbreaks. Proof of influenza/rhinopnuemonitis vaccine is not overbearing. This would require an updated passport, or a simple invoice from the riders veterinarian that states what vaccine was given and the date administered.

Your question could open a can of worms about vaccine protocol and shows or events. I think this is a practical way to handle your concerns and hopefully keep your boarders happy.

Courtesy of AAEP