Equine vaccinations

We offer equine vaccinations for Tetanus, Equine Influenza & Equine Herpes Virus.


Tetanus is caused by a bacterium, Clostridium tetanii, that can be found in soil and droppings (not just rusty nails). It enters the body through wounds (most often a puncture wound). The bacteria produce a toxin (tetanus toxin) that is a potent neurotoxin that causes the symptoms seen.

Symptoms of tetanus result from the toxin attacking the nerves controlled the muscles of the body. This results in progressive muscle stiffening, protrusion of the third eyelid, the tail may be held out straight and the horse develops an anxious expression because of facial muscle spasm.

Attempts can be made to treat tetanus, but chance of recovery is poor and often euthanasia on humane grounds is most appropriate.

We strongly recommend that all horses, ponies and donkeys should be vaccinated for tetanus. Tetanus can be given at the same time as influenza or alone. It is given into the muscle, either in the neck, pectoral or hind quarter.

To be covered for tetanus vaccinations are given from 6 months of age, before then there is some cover from maternal antibodies. A course 3 vaccines are given before boosters given every other year:

  • 2nd vaccination approximately 4 weeks after the first.
  • 3rd vaccination approximately 12-18months after the second.
  • Booster every other year.

Equine Influenza (EI)

EI is caused by a strain of the flu virus. It is endemic in the equine population and is highly contagious spread from horse to horse. It is airborne (via water droplets) and can travel surprising distances from infected animals. The virus can also travel on fomites such as clothing, rugs and tack.

Symptoms include a cough, nasal discharge, pyrexia (high temperature), loss of appetite, lethargy and swelling of the glands under the jaw. When an individual is infected, they are more susceptible to secondary infections such as pneumonia which can result in death. Very young and very old horses are more likely to suffer from life threatening infection of EI. Recovery from EI can take a long time, we would normally recommend at least 1 week off for each day of pyrexia.

We recommend vaccination for all horses that regularly meet groups of other horses outside their usual herd. This includes animals that are on livery yards that may not travel themselves but where others are out competing that may bring infection back to the yard with them. Vaccination is compulsory in most competition settings and to use some equestrian centres.

Vaccination should protect against the flu virus in most cases. However, when the virus mutates the vaccine may not completely protect against the new strain of virus. It will still be effective in reducing the symptoms and spread of the virus. The flu vaccine is either given with tetanus or alone depending on if the tetanus cover is due.

A course of 3 vaccinations is given then boosters are given thereafter:

  • 2nd vaccination is 21-92days after the first vaccination (21-60days for the BHA/horses in training).
  • 3rd vaccination is 150-215 days after the second vaccination (120-180days for the BHA/horses in training).
  • Booster depending on rules competing under may require every 6months but must be done within 12months of the previous vaccine (6months for the BHA/horses in training).

We endeavour to try and provide our clients with a service where we remind them when their horse’s vaccinations are due. However, the ultimate responsibility of the horse going over, or missing a vaccination lies with the owner/keeper of that individual.

Equine Herpes Virus

EHV is a highly contagious endemic virus in the horse population. There are 9 different strains, but the two that are vaccinated against (1 and 4) are the most common. The virus causes respiratory disease amongst young horses whilst can cause abortion in pregnant mares. In very severe cases it can cause neurological disease, this can affect any age, sex or breed of horse. The disease is spread either in water droplets or infected aborted material.

Symptoms can range from very mild to severe and are different depending on what form of the disease the horse has. The respiratory form can present with a pyrexia (high temperature), dry cough, nasal discharge, poor performance, loss of appetite and lethargy/depression. The neurological form can present with weakness, inability to pass urine or droppings, ataxia and in the worse cases recumbency. Luckily this form of the disease is rare. In cases of abortion pregnant mares abort suddenly and unexpectedly.

Vaccination is advisable for young horses that travel a lot or mix with large groups of horses outside their usual herd (usually a course given with the 2nd vaccine around 1month after the first and then every 6 months after that). It is also recommended for pregnant mares at 5,7 and 9months gestation. The EHV vaccine is not recommended to be given at the same time as the flu/tetanus vaccination.

Equine Vaccinations

We offer equine vaccinations for Tetanus, Equine Influenza & Equine Herpes Virus.

Why do I need to do worm egg count tests (WEC)?

It is no longer appropriate to just worm horses/ponies on a regular basis without testing.

Each time a wormer is used, the surviving worms are resistant to the drug used. The more you sue wormers the more chance there is for resistance to develop in the worm population. Resistance is indicated by a reduced egg reappearance period, and/or ineffective worm egg count reduction in response to treatment.

  • Only 21% of horses having WECs at Station House Vets last year needed treating
  • 80% of the worm burden is carried by 20% of the horse population

Worm egg counts are important as they confirm whether  wormer is required or not, depending on the level of the egg burden at the time.  It avoids over worming and potentially causing more resistance by maintaining the number of worms in ‘refugia’, those that are still sensitive to wormers.  It is therefore recommended that instead of just worming on a regular bases, worm egg counts should be initiated.

When and how often do I need to do worm egg counts?

The optimum time to perform worm egg counts is in the main grazing season between early March and late October.

The first WEC is done in early March and then every 2-3 months through to October.  If you’re on the WEC plan you don’t need to worry – we’ll remind you!

How do I collect a worm egg count sample?

The number of eggs in different faecal piles is fairly consistent, BUT it varies within the faecal pile, therefore it is very important that you take at least 4 x samples from different areas within the same pile.

The total sample taken across the 4 samples should be around tennis ball size.

We need your sample from the freshest faecal pile available (ideally less than 12 hours old). Place the sample in a zip lock bag, removing as much air as possible.

Keep refrigerated once collected.

Where do I take the sample once collected and how quickly?

Your refrigerated sample needs to be dropped off us at the practice as soon as possible after it has been taken.

Please let us know that you are dropping a WEC sample off (the day before or on the morning of taking the sample) so we know about it in advance – call 01653 618303 or email us on worming@stationhousevets.co.uk

Samples ideally need to be tested within 48 hours of being taken, so it is important that we know the sample is coming to us in advance, so we can organise the testing within the required timeframe.

When will I get the test results?

Whenever possible, your results will be available within 48 hours (except for over a weekend).

Our equine team will give you a call with the results and advise on appropriate treatment once the WEC test is processed.

What do the test results mean?

The results are reported as the number of eggs per gram.

If the WEC is:
– less than 250 eggs per gram there is no requirement to treat
– more than 250 eggs per gram, our veterinary team will advise which wormer is required

If your horse needs treating, 10-14 days after the wormer has been administered Worm Egg Count Reduction Test is required.

Why would I need a WEC reduction test and how do I do it?

If your horse needs treating due to a WEC result of 250epg or greater, we advise a WEC reduction test is preformed. You can collect a sample in exactly the same way as for the WEC test – taking 4 x samples from different areas of one faecal pile.

We perform a WEC in exactly the same way on this sample. The difference between the WEC results before and after treatment is then utilised to calculate the percentage reduction in these WEC results. We are looking for a 90-95% reduction (depending on the treatment drug used) in the WEC between tests. This indicates there is no resistance to the worming drug used for treatment.

If resistance is detected, then this is important to your horse and any oc-grazers as it indicates resistance within the worm population.

  • All of the reduction tests done at Station House Vets in 2021 came back as 100% reduction.

Are any horses/ponies more susceptible to worms?

Horses under 6 years old and over 16 years old are more susceptible to worms. Some individuals seem to have an increased susceptibility to worms, accounting for 80% of the worm burden being carried by 20% of the horse population.

Horses & ponies of all ages should be regularly tested and treated where necessary.

Why are the tests performed between March & October?

There are three reasons why we test during this period:

  1. Exposure to worms is increased during the main grazing season from March to October when horses are turned out more often and for longer periods
  2. Conditions are more favourable for parasite development to occur on the pasture during the grazing season
  3. Egg shedding from horses  is higher during these months than in the winter.

What is the tapeworm saliva test?

This is a test that you can perform yourself very easily and then post the swab directly to the laboratory. All you need, including a prepaid envelope, is included in the kit we give you.

It is important that your horse has not eaten or been exercised for 30 minutes before taking the test.  This is to ensure the sample collected is not too dilute as salivation increases when eating or being exercised. This test is performed once a year, usually in Autumn.

Research shows less than 50% of adult horses in the UK are infected with adult tapeworms.

Only 22% of horses tested for tapeworm by Station House Vets in 2021 needed treatment.

What is the small red worm test?

This is blood sample which must be taken by one of our vets. It is done once a year, usually between September and December.

Results are usually back within a week and one of the equine team will call you to advise if treatment is required.

How will I know when my horse is due testing for worm egg counts?

When you are on one of our Worm Egg Count Plans, we will remind you that your test is due.

The benefits of joining the Worm Egg Count Plan

  • Discounted rates for being on the plan rather than paying for each treatment individually
  • Annual one-off charge of either £50 for the WEC standard plan or £80 for the WEC Plus plan
  • Regular checks to determine if your horse needs treating for worms or not
  • We’ve got you covered – we will send a reminder when your  next WEC test is due!
  • Peace of mind that you are not over worming or under worming your horse
  • Do something positive for your horse, your pasture and the planet!

You can join the plan at any point in the year and your renewal will be due the same time the following year – a reminder will be set out just before you are due to renew.

How do I join the Worm Egg Count Plan?

Give the team a call on 01653 618303 to sign up.
You’ll just need your payment card to make the one-off payment over the phone.