F.A.Q!

Frequently Asked Questions

What vaccinations are included in the basic vaccination package?
Should You Vaccinate Your Own Horse?
How Do I Keep My Horse Cool In The Summer?
Keeping Your Horse Warm
When Should My Horses Get Vaccinations?

How Often Should You Have Your Horse’s Teeth Floated?
How Do I Treat Rain Rot?

First Aid Kit for Your Horse
Creating a Testimonial For This Website

What vaccinations are included in the basic vaccination package?

The “basic” vaccination package that we recommend here at James River Equine consists of eight total shots. The “Basic” package provides protection against the following eight diseases: Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Western Equine Encephalitis, Tetanus, Rhinopneumonitis (Herpes), Influenza, Rabies, Potomac Horse Fever, and West Nile Virus. If your horse has never had any of these vaccinations before, he will need a booster set 3-4 weeks after initially receiving them. Additional vaccinations that we may recommend depending on your particular situation are Strangles vaccine and Botulism vaccine. If you are a high risk for contracting either one of these diseases, we will incorporate these vaccines into your program as well. Both foals and brood mares require particular vaccination regimens so please contact us if you have specific questions regarding foals and brood mares. We will be glad to discuss your horse’s particular needs and design a vaccination program that is most appropriate for your horse.

Should You Vaccinate Your Own Horse?

The answer to this question is “no”. Horse owners are often tempted to take their horse’s health care into their own hands and design their own vaccination program. Many problems arise when owners cannot locate the appropriate vaccines when they give vaccines at the wrong time, when their animal is sick and will not mount an appropriate response to the vaccine, or when they fail to give the appropriate vaccines. In addition, many owners soon realize that giving shots to their horse is not as easy as it looks and accidents do happen. Most companies that manufacture vaccines only offer help in the event of an adverse reactions if a veterinarian gave the vaccine. There is no recourse if an unfortunate reaction occurs from a vaccine if anyone other than a licensed veterinarian gives a vaccine. Also, only vaccines sold to veterinarians are handled in a way that absolutely insures they stay fresh and cool until they are given to your horse. Owners may also not know the correct procedure for giving shots or the size needle and syringe that is most appropriate. This is why there are veterinarians! Just like human doctors, we are trained to know what vaccines to give, when to give them, and how to give them. We would be more than happy to help you design your vaccination program and get you started on the right path.

When Should My Horses Get Vaccinations?

Almost all vaccines given to horses are to prevent diseases that are “carried” to them by a flying insect or a carrier animal (vector), so it is more likely to be “delivered” when these vectors are active in warmer weather. Another way of putting it is: if you are seeing flying insects, you have waited too long. Virginia is an area of the country that most years do not really get cold enough for all the insects to completely die off. Most vaccines do not protect your horse for an entire year. The most current recommendation is to have your horse vaccinated twice a year in the early spring and in the early fall. For the practice area, we recommend vaccinating before March 15th and before Sept 15th of each year. The vaccine protocol for foals and pregnant mares is different and should be discussed with Dr. Shane.

Creating a Testimonial For This Website

We would love to hear what you have to say about James River Equine Services. Just send your testimonial in an e-mail to our office at info@jamesriverequine.com and we will put it on this website. Please understand that all e-mails will be edited for content and length prior to being shared online.

How Do I Keep My Horse Cool In The Summer?

The intensely hot summers we can have in Virginia can be hard on horses as well as people. Just like people, horses can become overheated. They try to cool off by sweating and staying in the shade. Dark colored horses will sometimes breathe very fast to blow off heat, much like a dog pants. Horses are obligate nose breathers so they do not hang their tongue out to pant, but will instead flare their nostrils rapidly when panting. The most important thing in keeping cool is to drink lots of water. Dehydration is the first sign of a problem. You can check for dehydration by pinching the skin on the side of the neck and waiting a few seconds to see if it drops back down. If it stays tented up it can mean the horse is low on fluids. When the horse starts to get low on fluids, their intestinal fluid will be absorbed back into the blood to try and maintain hydration. When the intestinal fluid dries out, impaction colic often follows.

Along with plenty of water, a horse beats the heat better with a shady spot. Somewhere out of direct sunlight under the shade trees near a stream is nature’s perfect air-conditioned suite. A three-sided run in shed with lots of air flow is better than standing in a four sided stall with no air flow. A fan aimed at the horse in a stall also helps keep the air moving. Hosing or sponge bathing which cause evaporation cooling is also a great way to cool a horse down. The three things to remember to help your horse (and you) beat the heat are: water, shade, and moving air.

Keeping Your Horse Warm

Your horse is very good at keeping himself warm. His huge body mass is virtually impossible to cool down by the outside temperature as long as he is healthy and is growing a long, normal winter coat. This system of keeping warm is only changed when the wind and the wet are combined. Wet weather alone does not make a horse cold, but blow cold air on a wet hair coat and suddenly you have a freezer. The reason a blanket is not the answer is that it too can get wet and it presses down the natural air-space between the hairs that form a perfect insulation against cold. Blankets also force the skin to not grow a long hair coat like it needs for winter. Of course, there are notable exceptions to this: If a horse is body clipped for showing or has a skin problem that makes his hair coat less than ideal, a blanket may be in order.
The best place for your horse to beat the cold is to simply have a place for him to escape the wind and the wet if he so desires. A three sided run-in shed is a great thing to have in the field for your horse to hide in when the weather is frightful. Although many people think a horse has to be in a closed up barn on a cold, wet winter day, that is really not the case. If your horse is healthy otherwise and in good body weight, they can actually thrive in the cold. They can get out and run around and keep from getting stiff and colicky. They also are protected from dusty winter hay particles that can damage lung tissue with chronic exposure.
The best thing to feed your horse to help keep them warm is NOT corn or sweet feed. These will not increase their temperature any more than eating a candy bar or cold pasta would warm you up. The hindgut of the horse must keep fermenting cellulose and this process produces heat (think beer vat fermentation). So if you want to heat your horse up, feed him an extra flake of alfalfa mix or grass hay. The more he ferments, the warmer he is. It is very rare for a horse to colic on an extra flake of the same hay they are used to eating. It is quite common for a horse to colic in the winter when his well intentioned owner feeds him an extra big helping of sweet feed or corn in the warm barn locked up in his stall!

How Often Should You Have Your Horse’s Teeth Floated?

Your horse’s teeth should be routinely examined twice yearly; usually at the time of Spring vaccinations and again when Fall vaccinations are due. Teeth should be examined more frequently if your horse has had trouble maintaining weight, is dropping feed, or seems to be having trouble chewing feed, grass, or hay. Teeth may also be examined if you notice any unusual facial swelling. Examination of the horse’s oral cavity may be as simple as shining a flashlight in the horse’s mouth, or may require sedating the horse and inserting a “mouth speculum”. The mouth speculum allows your vet to keep the horse’s mouth open and get a good thorough look at the back teeth. It is routine for veterinarians to sedate your horse during a dental float. Sedation eliminates the horse’s anxiety about the procedure and helps the veterinarian work safely in the horse’s mouth. This allows your vet to do the best possible job while keeping you and your horse safe.

How Do I Treat Rain Rot?

The ultimate cure for “rain rot” or “scratches” is to keep your horse out of the rain, wet grass or mud. This is not always easy due to either your set up on your farm or your horse’s health. Some horses hate to be in all day or they are not used to it; while others may have a lameness issue that is best treated by being out and moving around.
Some allergies to insect bites are manifested as a mane or tail itch which then causes your horse to rub his tail. Again, the ultimate way to prevent insect bites is for your horse to be in a screened stall durin gthe day in front of a fan. This is not possible or feasible for every horse. Depending on the severity of a horse’s skin problem, less drastic measures may still be effective. These may involve shampooing once or twice a week with a benzoyl peroxide based shampoo and standing to air dry on a warm morning. Just getting the skin to dry by body clipping the worst areas or the “feathers” of the legs may be all that is necessary to facilitate rapid drying. Excess moisture and mud also means abscesses in the foot and thrush. As before, the best scenario is drying out the areas where they walk or a really dry stall. Even just picking the feet out well daily and allowing them to air dry on concrete can be all that is needed. All the bugs, bacteria and fungi that cause all these problems hate to be dry. Air is their worst enemy. Perhaps knowing this can help you and your vet come up with the best way to treat your particular horse on your particular farm.

First Aid Kit for Your Horse

The minimal supplies to keep in a good first aid kit are the following: Thermometer (with a string at the end of it); Stethoscope; Vet Wrap; Roll of Gauze; 4×4 Gauze; Leg Cotton; Phenylbutazone Paste (Bute Paste); Banamine Paste; Opthalmic Ointment for the Eye; An Antibiotic Ointement for Wounds; and Betadine Scrub.
Of course additional items are always good to have on hand.