Vaccinations stimulate the horses own immune system to produce antibodies to fight infections. There are several infections that horses can be vaccinated against that occur in New Zealand. The following list has the common vaccinations used in horses in NZ.

  • Tetanus
  • Strangles
  • Equine Herpes Virus 1 and 4 (EHV1 & EHV4) (Equine Rhinopneumonitis virus)
  • Salmonella

There are diseases that occur overseas that are not present in NZ that can be vaccinated against before a horse leaves NZ – NB it pays to check with your vet or MAF before doing this. Examples are Equine Encephalomyelitis Eastern and Western viruses, and Equine Influenza Types A1 & A2.

All of these vaccines are PAR1s (ie Prescription Animal Remedies) and therefore require a veterinary prescription to purchase for administration, or must be administered by a veterinarian.

A common mistake and confusion arises between a Tetanus antitoxin and a Tetanus vaccination. A tetanus antitoxin is an injection of antibodies to tetanus that gives an instant level of protection to the horse against tetanus that lasts up to three weeks only. A tetanus vaccination is an injection containing antigens that stimulate the horse to produce its own antibodies to provide a level of protection against tetanus. These own antibodies take up to 3 weeks to arrive in the animal, so protection is not instant, but does last several years after a course of vaccinations.

All of the vaccinations involve a course of injections – eg Tetanus requires two injections six weeks apart followed by another injection a year later, then every five to ten years. Strangles requires three injections three weeks apart followed by an annual injection.