Horse Health & Wellness

Use Caution & Common Sense When Vaccinating the Older Senior Horse

Owners of senior horses should discuss a vaccination plan with their veterinarian. Credits: Lillian Shupe

For anyone who owns a super senior horse (in their upper 20s and older) you might want to be conservative with your spring vaccines. 

"The best advice is to ask your vet what your horse really needs," says Laurie Cerny, editor of  "Once my older senior horses become pasture pets — not leaving the farm, or having exposure to new horses, they get the minimum number of vaccines my vet recommends."

For the most part this means giving vaccines for Tetanus, West Nile, and Encephalomyelitis. 

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Cerny said, "Our 29-year-old gelding has not gotten Rabies, Potomac Fever, Rhino, or Strangles for several years, now."  She added, "With an older mare that had metabolic issues we even cut back to just Tetanus and West Nile."

In addition to checking with your vet, Cerny said owners should also practice a little common sense.  "If your horse has become allergic to things, has poor body condition, or gets off of its feed easily, you really need to be conservative about what else you're putting into their system," she said.

Here are some additional tips:

It's also wise to split your vaccinations up — preferably into two visits.  This will help reduce the chance of your horse going off their feed or having a reaction to the vaccine.

Your vet can also give vaccinations in more than one area on the body.  This helps prevent extreme muscle soreness.

Walk horse for at least 15 minutes after receiving vaccinations.  This will help to circulate the vaccine and will reduce the chance of a reaction.

Administering a dose of Banamine will also help reduce soreness and/or stocking up (if your horse is sensitive to vaccines).

For more information about the care of and showing of senior horses, and about their ownership, go to

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