Thursday, December 12, 2013


It seems there are quite a few topics hitting across my newsfeed on Facebook.  One is that blanketing horses is inherently evil.

Two is vaccinating horses is inherently evil.

And I will tell you why I am "evil" and vaccinate my horses.  I'd love to sit down when I have a bit more time and expand on various vaccines and their mechanisms of actions if people would like to know.  I personally geek out on things like this, but I am a bit of an odd nut I know.

1.  The vaccines are more cost effective than trying to give supportive therapy for the majority of acquired diseases, i.e., West Nile Virus.  Ever try to deal with an ataxic horse?  Not cool.

2.  I try and eliminate stress and suffering on my horses.  Subjecting a horse to a Clostridial infection (i.e., Tetanus!) is just plain unpleasant.

3.  When my vets come and vaccinate, it is a good time for them to give solid, physical exams on my animals and to build a solid, reliable patient-client-veterinary history.  It makes my awesome veterinarians more likely to crawl out of bed on these cold subzero nights and come out when I have a crisis, compared to a client they say once five years ago for a different crisis.

Vaccines aren't a miracle thing.  The immune system is fickle, in horses and humans.  Vaccines vary quite a bit in effectiveness.  But for the core vaccines recommended by the AAEP, they are safe and generally quite reliable. 

Why do horses react when vaccines are given?  It depends.  

Some vaccines are modified live vaccines (like the intranasal strangles) so they do actively infect the horse.  The goal is just to give the horse a more mild form of the disease so it can stimulate the immune system into making sufficient antibodies and so forth, next time it encounters the disease.

Some horses react to the particulates in the vaccines themselves.  Vaccines carry "adjuvants".  This is what I usually see people saying is evil on Facebook.  One type of adjuvant has a minute amount of a mercury compound.  But truth is, people contact much higher levels of mercury in their life than used as an adjuvant.  Sorry.  But for some horses, humans, and so forth, there is just a stronger reaction than typical.  Just the same as most people in the world eat chocolate.  But I don't, I have an unpleasant reaction.

Most horses will have some residual stiffness, soreness, maybe a bit of fever, or so forth.  In my mind, this isn't a bad thing.  The goal of a vaccine is to stimulate the immune system.  If not stimulated, the vaccine isn't going to be successful.  Fever, stiffness, swelling are signs of an immune reaction, so not in themselves a bad thing in moderation.  

So there you go.  Plenty of people don't vaccinate and maintain horses just fine in that fashion.

However, I only have a small herd (two) of horses and I love both very much.  I would much rather do what I can to prevent illness, pain, and suffering, and in doing so, I carefully weight the pros and cons.  One pro in my mindset is core vaccinations.

So how about you guys?  Vaccinate?  Or not?


  1. I do vaccinate. I want to prevent diseases in my horse that could cause harm. I also want to prevent high vet costs from those diseases. And because I travel to another state with my horse for shows, I also want to reduce the risk of her catching anything. I don't know what everyone else at the shows does with their horses that come from other barns with even more horses. I think the slight risk to the vaccines are minute compared to what could happen otherwise.
    But I do not blanket :)

    1. Sounds like reasonable lines of thinking. :)

  2. I vaccinate, and up until now I always did it myself. In our old town, very small, there was a vet who would draw everything up for me for cheap. But you always had to haul in for any vet care, so I didn't care to make that relationship, I didn't need it, since if anything happened I would be showing up at their house (also the vet clinic). But now that we are closer to the city, 1.) I don't think I can talk my vet here into just drawing everything up for me, and I know they won't do it with rabies, and 2.) I want that relationship with the vet for the same reason you do! Not to mention, now my horse is undergoing more work and is actually working towards a goal, so a basic physical is always good. He will also be hauled off property, and exposed to many horses, so more the reason to get a vet's opinion on how to vaccinate; they are always up to date on things going around locally that might not be in the normal round of vaccines. My vet is kind of a old school guy and is all about keeping things simple, so I trust his opinion if he says something is needed. He's also a hoot to talk to while he looks over my horse!

    1. Depends on the state, but in many, a vet is legally required to give rabies.

      Mine do dispense vaccinations to myself and I do occasionally do them as I do have training and work(ed) in the veterinary industry, but I of course, have the vet do Rabies. I also have a tendency of just having them vaccinate while out for spring dentals and Coggins calls.

      For anyone ever involved in a disease outbreak, it is sad when farms and individuals won't/don't vaccinate or practice common sense quarantine practices. If there horse is sick, the local schooling show isn't a good place for it. Same if something is spreading through a farm, why take it off property?

      But for the rest of us, we have to protect our horses best as we can.

      I love some of the old school vets. Such fun! I worked for one (a female). She was no nonsense, but very good and practical. I learned a lot from her and truly enjoyed hearing what she had to say.


Please leave a comment if you like. I love hearing from readers and would like to know that I am not always talking to myself. ;)