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Vaccination is one of the mainstays of preventative healthcare for your horse. There are a number of vaccinations available; however, the most common diseases to vaccinate against are equine influenza and tetanus. In addition, it is becoming increasing common, particularly on larger competition yards or studs to vaccinate against equine herpes virus routinely. 

It is important to understand that vaccination as a preventative health strategy has two aims. Firstly, to protect against disease. This may not be a complete absence of disease, but rather a significant reduction in the severity of illness the animal will experience once faced with infection. Secondly, and as importantly, vaccination aims to reduce spread of disease throughout a population, reducing the impact of an outbreak. If a great enough proportion of the total population of horses are vaccinated against a given disease, it is possible to protect the entire population so effectively (herd immunity), that eradication may even be feasible. 

Of course, it goes without saying that vaccination does carrying a risk of side effects to the individual. By its very nature we are stimulating the immune system to create a protective response to a given disease. Common side effects include muscle stiffness or soreness, mild and transient increase in body temperature, and occasionally lumps or even abscesses at the site of injection. In the vast majority of these circumstances, these effects resolve fully within 48hrs. If you have concerns about vaccinations in general, or you wish to discuss this with your vet, please give us a call

Equine Influenza

The equine influenza virus is still commonly found in the equine population worldwide with several cases every year being reported in the UK through EquiFluNet. Equine influenza outbreaks can be devastating within an unvaccinated population, carrying a significant fatality rate; however, vaccination is robust and reliable. Thankfully, due to compliance of many equine horses to protect their individual horses, the national herd is reasonably well protected within the UK currently. 

Equine influenza ('flu) is virulent and spreads incredibly rapidly amongst the population. The is an airborne disease and given the correct weather conditions can spread significant distances between premises, resulting in rapid and widespread disease. This means that even if your individual animal is not competing or mixing with others regularly, due to the density of the equine population within south east in particular, keeping the vaccination protocol up to date is vital to minimise the risk of infection and prevent disease. 

Signs of 'flu include coughing, clear to mucky nasal discharge, swollen glands, increased temperature, swollen limbs, inappetence, poor performance, amongst others. 

Whilst the protection afforded to horses by the 'flu vaccination is highly effective, it does not last for very long. In most horses, protection against illness in the individual will last around a year; however, protection of the herd by reduction of virus shedding will only last up to six months. This is why regular vaccination is essential, and explains the need to vaccinate those individuals who have high exposure risk (e.g. competition under FEI rules) on a six monthly basis. 

Individual governing bodies have their own strict guidelines and regulations for vaccinations and the eligibility to complete, and it is the rider's responsibility to ensure that these are met. Most organisations run their competitions according to either FEI or BHA guidelines; however, the vaccination course consists of two initial vaccines 4-6 weeks apart; followed by a primary booster in 5-7 months from the second vaccination. Yearly vaccination is then required to maintain immunity.


Tetanus is caused by a bacteria Clostridium tetanus found commonly in the environment. It results in a rapid onset, usually fatal spastic  paralysis, colloquially known as 'lock jaw'.  Once contracted, the disease is incredibly difficult to treat. This is because the toxin from the bacteria binds irreversibly to receptors. Treatment is based around high dose penicillin to kill the bacteria itself; and antitoxin to attempt to bind to any of the remaining receptors before the toxin. Unfortunately, by the time clinical signs are apparent, this is often too late. 

Fortunately, vaccination against tetanus is incredibly effective. Vaccinations can be given for tetanus alone, or often as a combined vaccination with 'flu. 

The vaccination course consists of two initial vaccines 4-6 weeks apart; followed by a primary booster within 18 months from the second vaccination. Vaccination is then required every 2-3 years, depending on the manufacturer's guidelines.
There are no regulations for tetanus vaccination for competition.

Equine Herpes Virus

There are five different forms of this virus, each resulting in a different set of clinical signs. Equine herpes virus (EHV) 1 and 4 are the forms that are possible to protect against. Both EHV-1 and EHV-4 are associated with respiratory disease; however, neurological disease and abortion can also result. This disease is most commonly found in yards where there is a mixed age population, e.g. studs and breeding farms; however, as it is so prevalent with the equine population and the consequence of the neurological form of the disease is so severe, often resulting in death, vaccination (ideally of the whole herd) is recommended, particularly for those yards where some any horse is in regular competition work or residing at stud.  

The vaccination course consists of two initial vaccines 4-6 weeks apart; followed by boosters every 6 months.
Pregnant mares should be vaccinated at 5, 7 and 9 months of pregnancy to protect against abortion.
There are no regulations for EHV vaccination for competition.

Our Location

Lingfield Equine Vets is situated in the beautiful Surrey Hills area. We are located just north of Felbridge on the A22 with easy access for all equine transport vehicles.

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Lingfield Equine Vets
Chester Lodge, Woodcock Hill,
Felbridge, Surrey,
RH19 2RD
(01342) 300008