Horses grazing on pasture


Georgia is a great state for horse owners.  Georgia has a moderate climate for riding year round and has the beautiful Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry where horseshows and barrel racing events happen every weekend of the year.  Georgia also has many horse trails and camping sites.  However, with all these advantages for the horse owner, there are also potential problems.

Due to Georgia’s climate the state has mosquitoes year round and with the mosquitoes the potential for disease—West Nile and Eastern/Western Encephalitis. Both of these diseases have the potential for severe illness and death for your horse.  A yearly vaccine for West Nile and EWE can protect your horse from these diseases.

Trail riders, pleasure horses and show horses are in close contact with other horses and although we push for everyone to get vaccines to prevent respiratory illness, not everyone does.  Unless you ride by yourself, without other horses, you should also add to your vaccination schedule a rhinopneumonitis vaccine.  Respiratory disease is spread through the air and contact and is highly contagious.  Although you may be a responsible horse owner and administer all the vaccines, that does not mean that the horse next to you has had the same care. 

 This last vaccine is an option but as it is not an expensive vaccine it would give you piece of mind.  It is the rabies vaccine.  Rabid animals, be they raccoon or fox, are found in urban and in rural areas. 

Give the above four vaccines in March of each year to provide a year of protection for your horse.

When you schedule your vaccines, also schedule a Coggins test.  It is a simple blood test for the detection of an incurable and deadly disease—Equine Infectious Anemia.  It is transmitted by blood sucking insects such as deer flies and horse flies after biting an infected horse.  With each blood meal the infected fly will transmit the disease.  The good news is that the Tifton Diagnostic Lab has stated that it has had only one positive for year 2015.  Let’s try to keep it that low.  It is a Georgia law that you must have your coggins test with your horse whenever your horse leaves your property.  Some are under the impression that they only need a test if leaving the state or going into a state that has an agricultural inspection station, like Florida.  Anytime the horse is off your property, i.e. being transported, at horse shows, trails, etc., you need to have in your possession a current coggins test.  They are good for one year, so schedule with your vaccines and get everything done at one time.

The hottest months are upon us.  As a responsible owner:

  1. Give yearly vaccines.
  2. Have plenty of water for trailer trips and stalls
  3. Give electrolytes
  4. When going to horse shows with stalls, check for nails, staples in the walls and then spray stalls with chlorox (there could have been a sick horse in that stall!!)
  5. And most important—if you have a horse with a cough or snotty nose, leave the horse at home.  Protect your horse and your horse owning friends.

**The Georgia National Fair Grounds requires a current coggins and health certificate for all equine activities.