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Dear Cherry

Do older horses require the same vaccines as the younger ones. Mine is at a boarding stable and has been immunized every year. I had the vet come out and do a physical on both of my horses (both mares, one is 7 the other is 31). He said that the older mare could do without a couple of the shots (Strangles, Potomac, and rabies). But the barn owner said he requires that all the horses have the same shots as long as they are boarded at his barn. I’m wondering if mine and others are being over vaccinated? What are your thoughts? I also had the vet do fecal tests for parasites, which came out normal on both. I’m afraid he’s going to tell me I have to give them dewormer. The vet suggested doing the fecals first and I agree with him. I’ve always given the wormer before, but again the vet is suggesting that they can be overmedicated on dewormer. Both my mares are very healthy. You’d never know that the 31 year old was that old!

Thanks for you input.  Mary

Hi Mary,

Generally I would follow the recommendations of your veterinarian. What you vaccinate for and how often you deworm and with what should be based on an individual horse’s situation and needs. There is no sense deworming a horse with a negative fecal exam.

However, whether right or wrong, the owner of the barn where you board may have the legal right to require you to vaccinate and deworm according to his farm’s guidelines. I hope the barn’s program has been developed in consultation with a veterinarian.

If it becomes a point of contention, it would be best to have your veterinarian discuss the health program requirements with the barn owner and his veterinarian so they can come to an agreeable solution for all.

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Hi, I have 2 horses living in my garden (we have a very large garden) and they are my joy! I try to take the best care possible and watch their nutrition, hygiene, vet’s visits, etc but the one thing that I haven’t been able to control is the bats biting them on the neck, please help!

There are over 1000 species of bats in the world. I’m not sure where you live, but most bats live on insects, so would be a great addition to your garden’s pest control program. However there are also vampire bats and their main food source is blood. Based on your email, it sounds like your horses might be visited at night by vampire bats. I have no personal experience with vampire bats but have seen documentaries showing vampire bats feeding nightly on the fetlocks of equines. Once there is a wound, it is easy for the bat to return and feed at the same site. Because bats are potential carriers of rabies and because the recurring wounds from the bites can be a source for other disease and infection, if this is the type of situation you have, you can implement some management changes (below) or you can look into bat control which might include sonic/electronic bat repellers.

Management:
Be sure all horses are current on their rabies vaccinations.

Since vampire bats only hunt when it is fully dark, you could house your horses indoors at night.

It is said that bats don’t actually bite (and a horse’s skin is quite thick in most places, especially on the neck where you say the bats bite). So the bats would need to find an area where there is an existing wound or where the skin is very thin and the blood is close to the surface in order to find an entry point. Therefore, if you cover any existing wounds that would help prevent entry there.

You could purchases heavy textilene fly sheets and hoods for your horses to wear at night.

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VETERINARY CARE
©  2010 Cherry Hill © Copyright Information

Although your veterinarian will perform many routine and emergency tasks for you, you must be responsible for knowing what to schedule and when.

Immunization Annual vaccinations can protect your horse from certain diseases.  Most horses should be vaccinated against Tetanus, Eastern and Western Encephalomyelitis, Influenza, and Rhinopneumonitis.  In some parts of the country, Potomac Horse Fever, Rabies, and Strangles vaccines are also recommended.

Tetanus (lockjaw) is an infection of the nervous system caused by bacteria that enter through a wound or a foal’s umbilical cord.  The muscles stiffen so severely that within a few days the animal dies or must be euthanized.

Encephalomyelitis (sleeping sickness) is caused by a virus carried by a mosquito.  The mosquito transports the virus from a wild bird or animal to your horse.  The horse gets a high fever, is paralyzed and dies within 2-4 days.

Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus.  It’s a common respiratory disease spread by coughing that is rarely fatal.

Rhinopneumonitis (snots) usually affects 4-6 month old foals.  Pregnant broodmares that come in contact with this virus might abort.

Distemper (strangles) is a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes the glands near the throat to swell.  The horse will not eat or drink and gets a very high fever but rarely dies.

Rabies rarely affects horses but can result in death.  The virus is transmitted from an infected animal to the horse by a bite, usually from a dog, a skunk, a fox, or a bat.

Equine Infectious Anemia (swamp fever) is a virus that infects the horse’s blood and is spread from one horse to another through a biting insect.  There is no vaccine to protect your horse against swamp fever but the Coggins test identifies carriers.

Diseases are spread either directly from one horse to another, from a contaminated stall or feeder to a horse, between horses eating or drinking from communal areas, or through the air.

If a horse is contaminated, use a combination of treatment, disinfecting, and quarantine to keep the disease from spreading and to eliminate the organism that caused it.

Poison Prevention Horses investigate unknown things with their lips so all dangerous substances must be kept out of their reach.  Use safe paint.  Don’t let horses get near junk or vehicles where they might ingest toxic paints, plastic, rubber, antifreeze, or battery fluid.  Don’t apply insecticides or herbicides near their feed or water areas and be aware of which way the wind is blowing when you are spraying.  Read all labels very carefully or you might accidentally give your horse an overdose of an antibiotic, dewormer or nutritional supplement.

Dental Care Once a year your vet should float (rasp) your horse’s molars to prevent dangerous sharp points from cutting the horse’s cheeks and tongue.  At the same time, your vet can pop any caps (baby teeth) that might hang on when the adult teeth have erupted.  If your horse has wolf teeth (small tooth directly in front of the premolars) it can be removed to prevent problems with the snaffle bit.

Parasite Control All horses have internal parasites.  The worm eggs in manure hatch into larvae that are eaten by the horse.  Once inside the horse they subsist on the horse’s blood while they mature, lay eggs and continue the cycle.  Bots live inside the horse until the pupae drops to the ground with manure and hatches into a bot fly.  Although bot flies look like bees, they don’t sting but lay eggs on the horse’s hair.  Nose bots try to fly up the horse’s nose, which causes most horses to strike viciously with their front legs and run frantically.  This is a very dangerous situation.

To prevent your horse from becoming dull coated, pot bellied, and lethargic, deworm your horse every 8 weeks.  Remove manure from his living quarters daily.  Remove bot eggs from his hair every day beginning in August.

Taking good care of a horse is one of the most satisfying experiences that I know.  There is no sight quite like a bright, alert horse that is sound, shiny and ready to go.

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