It's time to start planning for spring vaccinations by scheduling a visit with your veterinarian or by ordering the vaccine if you give the shots yourself.
It is not a good idea to give the shots just before you are going to a show, having a lesson or any time that you want your horse to perform, because sometimes a horse may be sore after the shots.
Sometimes giving your horse the anti-inflammatory drug Bute before giving the vaccinations helps prevent soreness. If your horse has any soreness, it will usually resolve itself in a couple of days. In the meantime, you will not want to ride him, and you should elevate his hay and grain so he can reach it.
Vaccines are available for 12 equine diseases. The American Association of Equine Practitioners separates these into two groups: the core vaccines and the risk group vaccines. The core vaccines are vaccines all horses should receive. The risk group should be considered if your horse leaves his home base property through showing or any other activity and is exposed to other horses.
The core vaccines are tetanus, which is a disease that can be contracted through puncture wounds or other wounds; West Nile virus is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes; equine viral encephalomyelitis, both eastern and western, also transmitted by mosquitoes; and rabies, a fatal viral disease of the central nervous system, which can also be transmitted to people.
If you show your horse or take it off your property, or if your think your stay-at-home horse may be in contact with other horses, it should receive shots for anthrax, botulism, equine influenza, equine viral arteritis, Potomac horse fever, rhinopneumonitis, rotavirus A and strangles.
Your veterinarian should be the source of vaccine information for your particular horse.