Although respiratory diseases are rarely fatal, they are costly for the performance horse. A general rule of thumb is one week off for every day the horse is running a fever—often costing you weeks of training and showing time. Here are some quick tips to help keep respiratory disease out of your barn. 

1. Biosecurity—Show grounds and racetracks can be an ideal environment for viruses and bacteria due to the high volume of horses that move in and out of them. You can help protect your horse by taking a few simple measures to help minimize his contact with these viruses and bacteria:

  • Disinfect your stall prior to using it. Mild antibacterial soap/disinfectants and warm water will kill most harmful viruses and bacteria that can affect your horse. Be sure to clean the walls, doors, bars, and floors—anywhere his nose and mouth can touch.

  • Avoid nose-to-nose contact with other horses. One of the ways respiratory diseases, such as equine influenza virus and equine herpesvirus, are transmitted is from nose-to-nose contact.

  • Do not share equipment with other horses without properly disinfecting. This includes bits, brushes, buckets, hoses, etc.

2. Vaccinate regularly—Keep your performance horse, and any horses he comes in contact with, on a regular vaccination schedule.

  • Have your horse properly vaccinated by a veterinarian at least two weeks prior to the start of your show season.

  • Talk with your veterinarian about an appropriate vaccination booster schedule. Most performance horses will need to be vaccinated for respirat