If you’re planning to compete your horse this winter, add this to your pre-show checklist: Starting December 1, the U.S. Equestrian Federation is requiring all horses at its sanctioned competitions to be vaccinated against equine influenza virus and equine herpesvirus within the previous six months. Anyone bringing horses onto the show grounds will need to have proof that the shots are up to date.
The USEF adopted the new regulation (General Rule 845) to align horse-show requirements with vaccination guidelines from the American Association of Equine Practitioners. The AAEP recommends twice-yearly boosters against EIV and EHV for adult horses at high risk—those who live on farms where other horses often come and go and those that go off-farm to places where they’ll encounter other horses.
Both diseases are highly contagious, and a show—where scores of horses from different places mingle—provides perfect conditions for their spread. The rule should help keep the risk as low as possible.
At the same time, setting the required interval at six months might help prevent over-vaccination. Concerned particularly about outbreaks of EHV, managers of some shows have started requiring horses to be vaccinated within the previous 90 days. But there’s no data showing that such frequent boosters provide better protection.
If your horse has a history of adverse reactions, he’s exempt from the rule—but you won’t be exempt from the paperwork. You’ll need your veterinarian to certify his history of reactions, and you’ll need to log your horse’s temperature twice a day before and during the competition.
This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.