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Horse & Mare Health

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Equine vaccination and disease symptoms charts
Suggested schedule of vaccinations for horses, equine mare heat cycles and worming

Equine Vaccinations | Anthrax in Equines | Horse Temperature | Disease Symptoms
Mare Heat Cycles | Parasites/Worms | Parts of Horse | West Nile Virus

Breeding Mares & Horse Heat Cycles  |  Foaling Tips - Mares & Foals
Care & Management of the Young Foal

Suggested Vaccinations For Horses

Type Vaccine

Administration Earliest Age Of Initial vaccine 2nd Vaccine Interval Revaccination Interval
Tetanus killed bacterin toxoid intramuscular
(in the muscle)
3 months 1 to 2 months later yearly
killed virus intramuscular 3 months 1 to 2 months later yearly, before insect season
killed virus intramuscular 3 months 1 to 2 moths later every 3 months during epidemic/before shipping
Rhinopneumonitis* killed virus intramuscular 3 months 1 to 2 months later every 3 months  during epidemic/before shipping
Equine Distemper
killed bacterin intramuscular 3 months 1 month later every 3 months during epidemic/before shipping
Rabies killed virus intramuscular 3 months  1 time per year yearly
Potomac Horse Fever killed bacterin intramuscular 3 months 3 weeks later yearly

*Pregnant mares should be vaccinated for Rhinopneumonitis during
the 5th, 7th and 9th months of gestation.
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Equine Disease Symptoms
Disease General Signs Spread

Difficulty eating or walking, overreaction to noise, stiffness, elevation of the 3rd eyelid.

Not contagious; caused by punctures and wound infection.


Often fatal; fever, staggering, circling, head pressing, depression and sleepiness. 

Not contagious, but spread by mosquitoes. 
Equine Influenza Rarely fatal; cough, loss of appetite, fever, depression, muscle soreness, discharge from the eyes & nose.  Very contagious; keep affected animals isolated.
Rhinopneumonitis Respiratory distress; nasal discharge, cough, fever; causes abortion in pregnant mares. Very contagious; keep affected animals isolated.
Strangles Fever, swollen jaw glands, loss of appetite, cough, nasal discharge, can cause abortion in pregnant mares. Very contagious; keep affected animals isolated.
Potomac Horse Fever Lethargy, anorexia, fever, colic, laminitis, colitis, and diarrhea. Spread during insect season, vector unknown.

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Parts of the Horse

parts of the horse
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West Nile Virus

Signs of West Nile virus in horses: These symptoms can be confused with rabies, EPM ("Possum Disease), equine encephalitis, and other serious neurological diseases. If you see any of these signs in your horse, please see your veterinarian immediately. Stumbling or tripping ~ Muscle weakness or twitching ~ Partial paralysis ~ Loss of appetite ~ Depression or lethargy ~ Head pressing or tilt ~ Impaired vision ~ Wandering or circling ~ Inability to swallow ~ Inability to stand up ~ Fever ~ Convulsions ~ Coma.
Click on the links below for more West Nile information:

CDC West Nile Virus Home Page   CDC West Nile Virus in Horses FAQ

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Anthrax in Horses

Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by the organism Bacillus Anthracis. Horses most commonly show septicemia with enteritis and colic. Most cases are reported during the warm summer months. Vaccination is only recommended in enzootic areas of the country, (i.e. South Dakota, Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, California, and Arkansas). In the case of an outbreak, only those animals not exhibiting clinical signs should be vaccinated.

Anthrax as a Weapon of Terrorism
Centers for Disease Control - Anthrax

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Mare Heat Cycles

We have found that most healthy mares come into heat every 21-22 days. 21 to 22 days from the time she comes into heat, she should start into heat again. Some mares may vary from 18 to 31 days in their heat cycles.

Ovulation or the fertile time for the mare occurs 24 to 48 hours before the mare goes out of heat. So, no matter how long she is in heat she cannot become pregnant until shortly before she goes out of heat. Most mares are in heat for about 5 to 7 days. A healthy stallion's sperm lives about 24 hours in the mares genital tract, so in order to get the mare to settle in foal it is necessary to have the stallion cover her shortly before she goes out of heat. We usually breed mares on the second day of their heat cycles, and then breed them every other day until they go out of heat.

Most mare's foal heat, (the first heat cycle after foaling) will usually start about 9 days after the foal is born, but depending on the individual mare, it can start from 4 to 18 days later. She can be bred back at this time if she foaled clean with no problems or complications. The second heat after foaling usually starts 18 to 21 days after the foal heat.

Managing Heat Cycles in Mares   Culture Test Mares

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Parasites & Worms

Internal parasites are a major threat to the health, strength and vitality of every horse. Clinical and/or sub clinical parasitism exacts a staggering toll on the health of nearly every horse. Fortunately, horse owners have the power to prevent parasite damage.

Thousands of eggs and larvae of dangerous parasites like large strongyles, small strongyles, roundworms and pinworms are ingested daily by horses. The typical life cycle of internal parasites in the horse begins when infective larvae or eggs containing larvae are ingested. Damage is done to the intestines, and larval migration may damage other organs as well. Over the following weeks and months, the larvae develop and mature until they become egg-producing adults. The thousands of eggs produced by the adult worms are passed back into the environment where they start the cycle all over again.

Equine Internal Parasites   World of Horses

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Horse Temperature

A horse's normal rectal body temperature is approximately 100.5 degrees.
Temperatures of 102 degrees or more generally indicate an infection, which needs attention.
The normal breathing rate for a horse at rest is 12-15 breaths per minute. Breathing rate can be determined by watching the nostrils or flank.
Rapid, shallow breathing at rest often means a horse needs medical attention.
The normal resting heart rate for a horse is 35-40 beats per minute. The rate will increase when a horse is excited or exercising. A resting heart or pulse rate of 50 or higher means the horse is in physical distress. The heart rate can be determined by monitoring it at the artery that crosses under the jaw, or by feeling the heart beat. To feel the beat put your hand under the horse's left elbow.

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The above tips are not meant as a diagnosis, treatment advise or replacement for the medical advisement of your veterinarian. It is offered as a general informational resource based on personal experience and study.

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All rights reserved.   Last updated March 2013