Murray Shotter

Horse Vaccines: When and Why

We recommend that all horses are vaccinated to protect against Tetanus, Influenza, and the Herpes Virus. Below is a brief description of the diseases and their recommended vaccination regime:


Tetanus is a disease caused by a bacteria, that produces a toxin that attacks the nervous system of the horse leading to neurological signs in the horse which tend to be fatal.

Protection is achieved by two primary vaccinations approximately 1-2 months apart, followed by a third a year later. Boosters are required 18-24 months thereafter.


Influenza is caused by a virus. Signs exhibited by a horse with influenza can be high temperature and respiratory signs. Horses generally required long periods of rest due to the damaging effects on the lungs.

The primary course is 3 vaccinations: The interval between the 1st and 2nd shot are 3 weeks-3months and the interval between the 2nd and 3rd shot is 5-7 months. Boosters are required annually within 12 months. Note: Competitions under FEI regulations requires horses to be vaccinated on a 6 monthly basis.


This infection is caused by the herpes virus. There are several types of herpes virus but the most common type causes respiratory infection. Other types can cause abortion and paralysis in horses.

The recommended regime is 2 vaccinations 4 weeks apart and then a booster every 6 months. A separate protocol is required for pregnant mares.

If you need some more guidance on vaccines, please do give us a call.

PRP Therapy

PRP: Platelet Rich Plasma

Platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) can be used for the treatment of joints, bursae and soft tissue injuries.

Platelets are a component of blood that are capable of releasing many growth factors such as platelet-derived growth factor, transforming growth factor beta and vascular endothelial growth factor. These growth factors are important for regulating a huge number of cellular processes that encourage the formation of blood vessels and the proliferation of new tissue.

PRP is very quick to obtain from your horse and can be ready to inject in as little as 15-30 minutes, depending on the method used.  We take approximately 50mls of blood from your horse and centrifuge or filter it to concentrate the platelets to produce the PRP.

PRP is injected directly into the site of injury and works best where there discrete area of damage, such as a tendon core lesion. However, it has a wide array of uses including aiding the healing of joints, bursa and soft tissue injuries (such as suspensory ligament or flexor tendon strains).

PRP is able to act as a scaffold for proliferating cells which makes it a useful treatment prior to stem cell therapy.

Another great advantage to PRP is that it can be legally used in competition horses where drug testing would detect commonly used controlled substances.

For more information on PRP, please telephone your vet or call the office on 01306 627 706 to discuss.

Eye Injuries

The prominent location of your horses eyes leave them very exposed to injury. Even minor damage to the eye can worsen rapidly and put their sight at risk in as quickly as a few hours to days in some cases. Combined with the fact that injury, infection or inflammation of the eye can be extremely painful for your horse it important to identify injury and seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.

Signs of a Painful Eye

  • Excessive tear production
  • Squinting or closing of the eye
  • Swelling/ redness
  • Discolouration of the eye
  • Avoiding bright light
  • Constriction of the pupil
  • Discharge from the eye

What to do

If you suspect your horse has an injured eye:

  • Move them to a darkened stable
  • Remove any objects that they could rub their eye on (rugs, tack etc)
  • Call your vet

Choke – Oesophageal Obstruction

Choke – oesophageal obstruction

What is choke?

The term choke can be misleading. Choke in horses refers to an obstruction of the oesophagus, not the trachea as in humans.  This means while choking your horse will be able to breathe, despite being in distress.

What causes choke?

  • Poor dental health
  • Horses with dental abnormalities such as missing teeth, malocclusions or sharp points are unable to chew effectively. This puts them at a far higher risk of choking compared to those that have good dental health.
  • Bolting feed
  • Some horses eat too fast and do not chew properly leading to choke. This can be avoided by placing large stones in with their hard feed which they must eat around, slowing them down.
  • Dry food
  • Dry food is often harder for your horse to swallow than damp or wet food. This cause of choke is easily avoided by slightly wetting your horses feed. This is very important for sugar beet which must be properly soaked before feeding.
  • Foreign objects
  • Occasionally your horse may eat something it shouldn’t, such as a piece of wood, which could get stuck in their oesophagus

Signs of choke:

  • Distress
  • Coughing
  • Not interested in food.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Head and neck extended in a downwards position.
  • Nasal discharge
  • Saliva drooling from the mouth

What to do if your horse is choking

You should remove any remaining food from your horse and call us for advice.

Your vet will likely sedate your horse and give them some anti-inflammatory medication.  This will help your horse relax and may release the blockage.

Some obstructions require your vet to pass a stomach tube through your horse’s nose. This allows them to lavage the blockage with water to remove it through the tube, this can be a time consuming process if the blockage is large.


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