If you ask a bunch of horse owners whether they booster their horses’ vaccines in the fall, you’ll probably get many different answers. Some vets highly recommend boosters, and some boarding barns may require them. But if you’re lucky enough to have your horses at home, the decision is probably up to you. So what’s the right choice?
Truth is, there’s no one easy answer to this question. Instead, you’ll need to weigh a few different factors in order to make the decision that’s right for you and your horse.
Your Horse’s Risk Factors
Start by considering your own horse’s risk factors for contracting a disease. Factors that can increase the chance of your horse becoming sick include:
– Frequent travel to shows, clinics, trail rides, or other events
– Boarding at a stable where other horses compete, or where horses frequently come and go
– Having a weak immune system
If your horse was vaccinated in the spring, those vaccines can still be in effect, but giving your horse boosters can strengthen the protection your horse will receive. This can be particularly valuable if you’re attending late-season shows.
Disease Outbreaks in Your Area
You’ll also want to consider any current equine disease outbreaks in your area. If there’s an active outbreak nearby, then your horse will be at an increased risk of contracting that disease. Even if you keep your horse at some, he still may be at risk of some diseases, like the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus.
If you’d like to find out about local outbreaks, the Equine Disease Communication Center is an excellent resource. This site provides updated information on disease outbreaks and their location, so you can better gauge the current risk in your area.
Your Horse’s Sensitivities
If you have a horse who reacts to vaccines, then you may choose to avoid boosters. Running antibody titers can give you a sense of your horse’s immunity against particular diseases, allowing you to pick and choose which, if any, vaccines you may want to booster.
If you compete or board your horse, keep in mind that some facilities may require a vaccine history, and they may or may not accept a horse who hasn’t received annual vaccines, even with titer results to support the horse’s immunity.
Making the Choice
Ultimately, it’s best to talk with your vet and consider the pros and cons of fall vaccine boosters. Your vet may have specific information about your local area that may influence your decision. Fall vaccine boosters may cost a bit more, but they can be well worth the investment if they help to prevent a serious disease in your horse.