Vaccinations are vital to equine health management. They help protect against a number of infectious diseases such as Tetanus, Strangles and Herpes (EHV). Often pathogens that affect horses appear without warning so waiting until your horse appears at high risk may be too late to avoid serious illness, a large bill and potentially death.

Tetanus (Lockjaw)

Tetanus is a disease by the bacterium Clostridium tetani which is commonly found in manure and soil. It enters the body through wounds, particularly puncture wounds. Infection can also be acquired via the intestine after eating contaminated soil or droppings, through gastric or intestinal ulcers.

Treatment is always costly and often results in death despite best efforts due to spastic paralysis of all muscles including those in digestion, respiration and cardiac function.

The vaccination is highly effective if the correct protocol is followed:

1st vaccination at 3 months of age

2nd vaccination 4 weeks after the 1st

3rd vaccination 1 year after the 2nd

Followed by booster injections every 1-3 years.

If you cannot be certain if they are up to date with their vaccinations and your horse has suffered an injury and is therefore at risk of tetanus, we can administer an anti-toxoid which will give it 2 weeks cover. We recommend starting vaccination at this point for future risks.


Strangles is a highly infectious and contagious disease characterized by abscesses of the lymph nodes of the neck and face. Where horses are infected or showing signs, they need to be isolated with separate handling. Vaccination reduces the likelihood of preventing this disease but it doesn’t fully prevent it. If a fully vaccinated horse gets Strangles, the disease tends to be less severe.

There are multiple signs but they are not always seen at the same time. Visible signs include swollen facial glands, thick, nasal discharge and fever. Lab tests on discharge or throat swabs are used to detect active infection.

Vaccinations reduces severity of the illness so the horse is off work for less time and requires less treatment. 3 injections are required 2 weeks apart. An annual booster is then required.

Herpes (EHV)

Equine Herpes Virus causes a range of diseases, most commonly associated with respiratory disease or as a cause of abortion. There is no specific treatment for EHV infection. Rest and nursing care will help minimize secondary bacterial complications. Antibiotics can be issued upon suspicion of secondary bacterial infection.

Vaccination should begin when foals are 4-6 months old. A second dose is given 4-6 weeks later and a third dose at 10-12 months. Booster injections are required. Vaccination programmes against EHV should include all horses that travel to high risk destinations (racetrack, showgrounds) and all horses on the premises. All pregnant mares should be vaccinated at months 4, 7 and 9 of pregnancy to reduce abortion risk.

Contact Franklin Vets to get your horses protected from these nasty yet preventable diseases.