Please remember!

The information presented on this blog represents "learning in progress" on my part, a horse owner, who was not satisfied with professional farriers and took matters in my own hands. As far as I am aware at the time of the post, the information presented is correct, but may change with me understanding more about hooves, in which case I will edit or remove the post. In order to follow my learning and understand everything about Molly's hoof, you need to start reading at the bottom.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


I started this blog initially to keep track of all the things about hooves and have easy accessible links to share with others for discussion. It now also has become a tool for me to keep track of other issues with my horses. So this entry is on my recent Vet's appointment. Three things were on the agenda:

1) vaccinations
2) teeth
3) Hoof x-rays

Unfortunately 1) and 2) are controversial issues where it is difficult for the common horse owner to make the right decisions. Many people do not vaccinate their horses anymore, or much less often, citing negative side effects, short and long term. Others vaccinate against every possible disease and because some vaccines are so inefficient, often repeat those vaccinations every 6 months.

For the longest part of my horse ownership, I would simply do what the vets told me. Back in Germany, this was also much easier, because diseases such as West Nile, WEE and EEE do not exist in the old world. So all I vaccinated was Tetanus. Germany, by now, is also Rabies free.
But now, I am living in the US, and also in a very mosquito prone area. Potomac horse fever is another disease that does not occur in Europe. So when I came to the US, my horses were all of a sudden vaccinated a LOT more.

The first vacination apointment Molly received:

1) Tetanus
2) West Nile
4) Potomac
5) Influenza
6) Rabies

Uff. This was a lot of stuff!! Thankfully however, she never showed any reactions to the vaccinations. However, as I have learned later, such effects can also show up only later in life and with repeated use.

So when Gus came to me, he was subjected to the same vaccinations as Molly. However, in contrast to her, he was rather sick after being vaccinated. Not any specific symptoms but just lethargic, which is very easy for me to recognize on him, because usually he such an energetic horse. It took him about 5 days to get back to his normal self. So this is when I started rethinking my approach and reading more on that subject.

What I come to conclude is that nobody really has any idea about the long term negative side effects of vaccinations. Just like in people, horses today seem more prone to allergies, and metabolic disorders. Some people blame this on vaccinations. I personally am not convinced, but I am convinced that we should not burden any body with anything it does not need.

And so I really scrutinized my vaccination cocktail, in particular after going through each one of the vaccinations and weighting the risk to their benefit, as described in this article. I called our Wild life officer to ask about Rabies. We do live in the middle of the woods and coyotes and foxes come by every single day.  He said, however, my area was free of Rabies. Also, my horses had received in total 3 vaccinations, which is most likely protective for the rest of their lives. So Rabies was dropped from my list. So was Influenza, as my horses never travel anywhere and if they were to get influenza I would just give them enough time to recover, hoping their immune system would be strong enough to fight these infections. I also saw no need for Potomac horse fewer anymore.

This left me with the mosquito-borne diseases and tetanus. We have Millions of mosquitos in my area!! I wanted to postpone tetanus vaccinations to once every 5 years. But I did want to vaccinate against West Nile and EEE+WEE every year because these vaccinations are rather inefficient. One could of course argue that given they are so inefficient one could drop them in the first place. But I did not (yet) have quite the guts to do that. So I called my vet and told him what vaccinations I wanted this year. He said EEE+WEE always comes with Tetanus and so I could not have those separate. I tried to argue, because I had found those on the web, but he said he would not write me a prescription for me to vaccinate the horses myself, which I would have no problem of doing. So I gave in (one last time!!) and horse received 1+2+3 from the list above. Dr. Harman said Tetanus is a very safe vaccine and the risk of tetanus in horses is arguably there, as they do roll in the mud and do get injuries much more often than we humans do and if they do get wounds they are much harder to keep clean. 

The good news is that this time, Gus had absolutely no reactions to the vaccinations. I think the thing he reacted strongly to was always Rabies.

1 comment:

  1. I don't vaccinate anymore, but then I'm in Ireland and we don't have a lot of the diseases you have over there. One of the reason I stopped vaccinating was that it showed up as a ring in my horses' hooves and as I'm still struggling to get their hooves right, I didn't like that.