6 ways to protect your horse's health away from home

Summer means more competitions, clinics and outings that increase your horse's risk of infection and disease. Here's how to protect him when you leave the yard.

1. Check your horse's vaccine record

Travel with your horse to a competition venue and chances are you'll be asked to show his passport to prove he's been vaccinated against equine influenza.

Vaccination is the only form of defence against this respiratory disease.

If you're not sure whether or not he's up to date with his jabs, ask your vet for advice before he's exposed to large groups of horses.

2. Protect your horse against tetanus

Continuing with the vaccination theme, there are other nasties that can be avoided by way of course of jabs.

Whether your horse is a competition regular or not, it's vital he's protected against tetanus, a life-threatening disease.

You can also choose to vaccinate him against common and debilitating viruses, including equine herpes virus (EHV) and rotavirus. 

3. Manage your horse against strangles

One of the most common equine respiratory infections in the world is strangles and can spread quickly through direct contact between horses, or by sharing infected tack and equipment. 

A strangles vaccine has been developed, but good management is the best prevention, which starts with trying to avoid letting your horse have nose-to-nose contact with others.

4. Give your horse clean bedding

If you're stabling your horse overnight at a venue, bear in mind old bedding may harbour bacteria, including Streptococcus equi, which causes strangles.

Remove old bedding and disinfect the stable, before bedding down with fresh straw or shavings. 

5. Keep your horse's belongings separate

Whether you're in the lorry park at a show or keeping your horse at a new yard while you're on a riding holiday, always follow your common sense.

Don't offer to share grooming brushes, saddle pads of buckets with other horses you don't know as they may be carrying infection.

Make sure your horse can see other horses in the field and stable, but not get close enough to kick or be kicked. 

6. Check his grazing

If your horse is going to graze unattended while he's at a new venue, make sure his environment is safe.

Check for poisonous plants, such as ragwort, that any temporary fencing is safe and secure, and that he has access to fresh, clean water.

Make sure that his worming regime is up to date to guard against harmful parasites that may be present in the soil in fresh droppings.