adventures with the vet · crunching the numbers

What vaccines did my horse get?

In case you haven’t noticed, I am a fairly obsessive record-keeper and chronicler and monitor of all things Tristan. Someday I’ll post about his medical records binder. It is a thing that even the most hardened Pony Club stable management judge would admire.

Tristan is scheduled for his spring vaccines later this afternoon, so I thought I’d do a bit of a table of what vaccines he’s received over the years. (Yes, I know it’s not spring yet; my vet is 8 months pregnant and we are avoiding her due date!)

2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
Rabies
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
E/W/T
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Flu/Rhino
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Potomac
X
X
X
X
X
X
West Nile
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Strangles
X
X
X
X
X
Botulism
X

Assume he got a Coggins every year as well (though not 2000-2005; he was in his first home and then the rescue), too. All vaccines were given based on the health outlook of a horse in a boarding situation in New England; some boarding barns were busier than others, but all were a minimum of 10 horses.

E/W/T = EEE, WEE, and Tetanus

As well-acquainted as I am with Tristan’s medical history, a few things surprised me.

First, though this chart does not reflect it, those first few years there were typically flu/rhino and Potomac boosters in the fall. That was apparently a thing we did in Vermont at the time.

Second, how clearly certain vaccines align with certain barn trends.

Look at strangles, f’rexample. 2006 and 2009-2012. 2006 I actually remember really well: it was a barn-wide vaccination after a horse at the fairgrounds 10 miles north came down with strangles during a summer show. Every barn in the county was on quarantine, and most vets recommended vaccinating, so we did.

2009-2012 were years at a specific barn that strongly recommended it, though not as strongly as others I’ve been at. By far the busiest showing barn I’ve ever boarded at, so that makes sense.

But interestingly, take Potomac. Those gap years, 2010-2012, also overlapped with that same busy barn, and it was not a typical vaccination for that barn. Why? I wish I had a better answer, but my memory is hazy.

This is my basic list, and usually I tweak Potomac and strangles at the recommendation of the vet administering the shots. Some of those vets I’ve had close partnerships with; others I’ve barely had a passing word with. (For all the many, many vets Tristan saw in 2012, the vet who administered his vaccines, ie the barn’s go-to, I never actually met; we always called in specialists for his foot.)

Last but not least, the outlier: botulism. I did not even know such a vaccine existed until this year, when the barn went on round bales for winter turnout and suggested that the whole barn get the vaccine. It was by far one of the most expensive I’ve ever done, with three rounds at $20 a pop. It was…not required, but strongly suggested.

In all, vaccines are cheap insurance for me. Tristan doesn’t react to them at all – some of those he’s gotten all in one day, and one or two years he got a five-way (E/W/T/Flu/Rhino) and didn’t bat an eye. There’s never been any difference in soreness or demeanor whether he gets ’em all in one day or spaces ’em out. For which I am grateful, and lucky!

Of all of these, the only required to be given by a vet are rabies and the Coggins, but I’ve had every single one of these done by a vet or the barn staff. I’ve never given a shot, and I go back and forth about whether that’s ok. Part of me thinks I should suck it up and be more hands-on. Part of me is glad to pay the vet to do it, since I get hands-on and an opportunity for a conversation. If I ever move to my own land, I will absolutely learn how to do IM and IV, but for now – this suits me, I think.

How about you? Do you do your own shots? What shots does your horse get? Are there some you’ve gone back and forth on over the years? Any regionalisms that you see, either in this list or in your own list?

2 thoughts on “What vaccines did my horse get?

  1. My guys get them all – last year we skipped West Nile. Strangles outbreaks are bad this year, we have quite a few cases in Ontario. Might want to get that one afterall..

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  2. I usually go with vet recommendation but definitely the E/W/T, West Nile, Rabies and Potomac is pretty prevalent here.

    I really need to start tracking these things better…!

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