Whether your horse is traveling to another continent, an out-of-state show, or a mile away to the park, good equine health care starts at home. Follow these tips to help make the trip memorable, for good, not bad, reasons.

Make sure your horse is current on core vaccinations. The best way to help protect your horse against common equine diseases is to vaccinate, and do so several weeks before departing. The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recommends that all horses be vaccinated against rabies, tetanus, West Nile virus (WNV), and Eastern/Western Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE/WEE).

In the case of rabies, which is always fatal for horses, multiple cases have already been reported in 2012, including horses in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Virginia, Florida, and Montana. While instances of equine rabies are relatively rare, many horses live in areas where more common carriers, such as raccoons, skunks and bats are found. Other diseases also have devastating effects.

  • Tetanus, which can be contracted from common bacteria found on most farms, has a 50% mortality rate;
  • One in every three horses that contract WNV will die or be euthanized; and
  • Ninety percent of horses that contract EEE will suffer the same fate.

"One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways horse owners can help protect their horse’s health is to work with their veterinarians to establish an annual vaccination schedule. Horse owners should also ask for safe and effective products," says April Knudson, DVM, equine specialist for Merial’s Large Animal Veterinary Services. "Some people get l