General Guidelines (see specific schedules below)
Vaccines work by introducing a weakened or killed version of a pathogen into the body, which
primes the immune system to be ready to respond quickly and efficiently should the horse ever
encounter the real disease-causing virus or bacteria. But if the immune system is already
struggling to deal with even a minor infection of some sort, the response it can generate to the
vaccine will be weaker.
Few things you do for your horse protect his health as simply and efficiently as arranging for his
vaccinations. In fact, delivering those shots or nasal sprays on schedule each year has gotten so
routine that most of us barely think about the deadly diseases they prevent. It's just one more
thing that you do.
As easy as it may be to take vaccines for granted, the decisions involved in developing the best
protocol for any given horse can be surprisingly complex, accounting for his age, occupation, home
environment, general health status and other factors.
And sometimes the process of determining which vaccines a horse needs raises additional
questions about immunity and disease protection. Your veterinarian, of course, is your best source
for guidance on how and when to vaccinate each horse in your care.
Timing is important. Avoid vaccinating your horse while he is ill enough to have even a low fever. The
vaccine will not be effective unless your horse is not ill and not under stress.
Types of stress that can reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.
Stress from travel, competition or management changes, for instance -- can also lower a horse's
immune response and reduce the efficacy of a vaccine. In particular, the production of
corticosteroids and other stress hormones can inhibit the ability of the immune system to respond
to a vaccine.
It's best to schedule vaccines when the horse will be able to rest at home for at least a few days
(and preferably a week or two) both before and afterward, and one to two weeks after he has
recovered from any minor illnesses.
Vaccinating an Older Mini Horse
Managing the care of older animals always requires a delicate balancing act -- sometimes the
treatment necessary for one condition can aggravate another. On the one hand, vaccines are even
more important for a horse who has a chronic illness that compromises his immune function. At the
same time, administering too many vaccines can place undue stress on an already fragile immune
Given the two choices, however, protection against serious diseases is the more important
consideration. To minimize the stresses on his system, your veterinarian will help you select only
those vaccines that are most necessary for your pony. Then, it might be a good idea to space the
shots out, one at a time, with at least a month between each one.
That approach minimizes the overall stress to his system at anyone time. Also, if another laminitic
episode occurs, you will be better able to pinpoint which vaccine was the culprit. Your veterinarian
can then help you decide whether to skip that one in the future or choose a different formula.
Can My Mini Horse Get a Reaction to the Vaccine?
Adverse reactions to vaccines are rare in horses, and even when they do occur, the vast majority
of the time they are relatively minor and will pass within a few days with little if any treatment.
Localized reactions may include minor swelling and stiff, sore muscles at the injection site. In
some cases a small abscess might form. Hot compresses may help make the horse feel better and
draw out an abscess, but usually he will recover within a few days on his own.
Systemic reactions include generalized dullness, stiffness and colic-like behavior -- sometimes the
immune reaction a vaccine produces causes the horse to appear mildly sick. These signs tend to
pass quickly, but it's wise to schedule vaccines when the horse will be able to rest for the
following day or two. Hives (urticaria) signal an allergic reaction to a vaccine; these soft,
flat-topped skin swellings can occur anywhere on the body but are more likely to be in the vicinity
of the injection site.
Anaphylaxis, a systemic allergic reaction that can produce seizures within minutes, is an extremely
rare life-threatening reaction to vaccines.
Be Sure To Follow VET and Vaccine Package Directions (i.e. give IM)
Flu (influenza)- Give the foal a vaccination at 6 months and follow this with
a booster in approximately 4 weeks
Encephalomyelitis (EEE, WEE)- Give annual Venezuelan type vaccine
depending where you live)
Rhino- Give the initial dose followed by a booster in approx. 4 weeks (don't give to
pregnant mares) and give annual booster
Tetanus- Give annually---Rabies- every 2-3 years
West Nile Virus (WNV)- Give first dose and follow by booster in approx. 4 weeks. Then, give
annual booster (biannual if mosquitoes present all year)
Flu (influenza) 6 months
Strepguard (=Strangles) for under 5 yrs and those who attend shows/clinics/driving events
If mom has been boostered while pregnant:
5 months WNV (or Prevenile), 3-way: EEE, WEE (encephalomyelitis), Tetanus, Strangles optional
6 months: (this is your booster since this is the first time for these vaccinations) 3- way: EEE,
WEE (encephalomyelitis), Tetanus, Strangles optional, WNV booster if I did not give Prevenile.
11 months: influenza and rhino
12 months: influenza and rhino booster
If mom has not had a booster shot, everything is the same except to move each set of
shots up by one month.