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Equine Wellness

Equine Wellness


A healthy horse is a happy horse with a shining coat, clear bright eyes with no discharge. The horse should breathe with ease, make no excess noise, coughing or nasal diischarge. The hooves should be strong with no cracks or heat. they should not be over or underweight, you should be able to press lightly to feel ribs but not be able to see them easily. 


Normal TPR values are:

  • Temperature 99-100.5 F
  • Pulse 32-40 beats per minute
  • Respiration 8-12 breaths per minute


To keep your horse healthy you should schedule your vet twice a year for routine equine wellness examinations, core vaccinations and dental examinations. This is a great opportunity to ask any questions reagrding the health of your horse. 


Core Vaccination Recommendations


I have included a general guideline for basic vaccination, for more information please visit AAEP website;


All foals should begin their foal series of vaccinations by the age of 4 months. At this age they should have a minimum of 2 doses of Eastern & Western Encephalomyelitis, Tetanus, Rabies and West Nile Virus. The 2 doses should be given 3-4 weeks apart. Foals that are at risk because they live in a boarding stable or show barn should also be given vaccinations for Rhinopneumonitis, Influenza and Strangles beginning at 6 months of age. These vaccinations also require a multiple dose series.

Adult Horses

Adult horses living in North Carolina should be as a minimum protected from the 4 endemic diseases.

  • Eastern & Western Encephalomyelitis is transmitted by mosquitoes and the results of infection are nearly always fatal. In middle North Carolina we have mosquitoes year round and vaccination is recommended every 6 months.


  • West Nile Virus is also transmitted by mosquitoes. The disease is easily prevented with an inexpensive vaccine and we recommend vaccinating twice a year.


  •  Horses are highly susceptible to Tetanus. The bacterium that causes tetanus, Clostridium Tetanii, is carried in the manure of horses and other animals, it is also ubiquitous in the soil. Horses develop tetanus when the manure contaminates a wound and the bacterium enters the horse’s body. The vaccine is very inexpensive and a yearly booster is very important.


  • Finally the most deadly of all is Rabies. Easily prevented a Rabies vaccination is a yearly essential for North Carolina horses.

Show Horses

Show horses, horses living in boarding stables and active horses traveling to parks, trail rides, clinics etc should also be protected against Influenza, Rhinopneumonitis and Strangles.

Influenza and Rhinopneumonitis vaccines are given every 6 months and the Strangles vaccine is given once a year. For horses that are traveling into the Northeastern United states we recommend adding Potomac Horse Fever protection. Horses that are traveling into southern Texas and Mexico should be vaccinated for Venezuelan Encephalomyelitis.

Pregnant Mares

Pregnant mares should be vaccinated against Equine Herpes Virus 1 during the 5th, 7th and 9th months of pregnancy. In addition they should have vaccinations against Eastern & Western Encephalomyelitis, Influenza, Tetanus, Rabies and West Nile virus 30 days prior to their due date.

Parasite Control

Horses are very suseptible to internal parasites, the warm and damp climate of North Carolina encourages survival of internal parasites throughout the year. The dewormers we have currently available have been on the market for many years, and resistence to these drugs has developed. This resistance has also developed due to the recommendation to deworm every 8 weeks using a different deworming drug each time.


At this time there are no new equine dewormers liklely to come onto the market so it is essential we use a strategic worming programme to minimise the risk of resistance. We now recommend obtaining fecal egg counts using a McMaster's feal anaylsis for all horses. 


To test how effective a class of dewormers is on your property a fecal float should done before worming then repeated 10-14 days after worming to check the product has killed all the worms. If after worming you still have a fecal egg count we would suspect resistance to this type of product.    


In North Carolina the most damaging parasites are the small Strongyles. Small Strongyles are at peak activity in the fall. All horses should have a fecal sample tested in October. Horses with low fecal egg counts do not need deworming. Horses with moderate to high fecal egg counts should be dewormed. These horses should have another fecal sample tested in 8-12 weeks depending on the product used. Another sample should be tested in April. Most adult horses in North Carolina do not need deworming during the summer months when temperatures are high and rainfall is low. By using an effective product at the time of most impact most adult horses can be dewormed 3-4 times a year and achieve excellent control.


Coggins Tests


A Coggins test is a simple blood test that screens for the disease Equine Infectious Anemia, a fatal disease for which there is no cure. A yearly test is required for any horse living in a boarding stable or training barn. A Coggins test is also required for all horses that attend equine events such as trail rides, horse shows, rodeos, roping’s etc. An interstate health certificate cannot be issued without a current Coggins test.

Farrier Care

Some horses are born with strong hooves and correct legs, they wear their hooves evenly and can go for long periods of time without having their hooves trimmed. But for most horses regular hoof care is a necessity whether it be shoeing or trimming they hoof care generally every 6 weeks. Young growing weanlings and yearlings can avoid a lifetime of lameness with a regular visit from a farrier.