Is Your Horse Ready For Spring?
It's that time of year again! Whether you are preparing for the upcoming show season or just hoping to hit a few of the local trails in your area this summer now is the time to familiarize yourself with specific rules and requirements, prepare your documents, and beef up your disease prevention plan for your horse.

Vaccines protect against many fatal diseases, as well as non-fatal diseases that require significant lay up time, cost and effort to treat and control an outbreak. All horses in New Jersey should be vaccinated for rabies, Eastern and Western equine encephalitis, tetanus, and West Nile encephalitis. Other vaccines, such as influenza (flu), rhinopneumonitis (equine herpesvirus types 1 & 4), strangles, botulism, and Potomac Horse Fever, are administered based on your horse’s risk of exposure to these diseases. We recommend the encephalitis (Eastern, Western, and West Nile) and tetanus vaccines be administered between April 1st and May 31st, to ensure the highest levels of protection when your horse needs it the most, during the mosquito season.

If your horse is receiving multiple vaccines in the spring, we recommend splitting up the vaccines in two appointments. This strategy is less taxing on the horse’s immune system, especially for horses that have had a vaccine reaction in the past.

If possible, try to have your horses vaccinated at least two weeks before a stressful event, such as a show or traveling, so that their immune systems will have plenty of time to respond. Some horse shows or 4-H events require specific vaccines.

For more information about vaccines, please visit our vaccination program page or the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s website.

Wellness and Oral Exam
Every horse should have an annual wellness exam. We perform this exam when we administer your horse’s encephalitis/ tetanus vaccine. This is also the time to discuss any problems or questions you have.

An annual oral exam should be performed by a veterinarian. Your horse’s mouth will be examined for oral diseases that may affect performance and overall health. Only a veterinarian is trained to perform this exam and dental procedures such as teeth floating.

As of spring 2011, Colts Head Veterinary Services is recommending new deworming programs. Please visit our website or speak with one of our veterinarians to discuss a deworming program based on your horse’s parasite burden.

Coggins Test (EIA)
This blood test is performed to determine if horses are infected with the virus, Equine Infectious Anemia. The EIA virus can infect all equids (including donkeys and mules) through insect bites (especially horse flies), shared needles, or any other means of contact with an infected horse’s blood. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this virus, nor is there a vaccine to protect them against becoming infected.

In New Jersey, all horses must have a coggins test performed every 2 years. Other states and some horse shows require an annual negative coggins test. Before you travel or take your horse to a show, it is a good idea to call ahead and check their specific requirements for the coggins test.

Typically, it can take up to 2 weeks for processing at the lab before the results are mailed, e-mailed, or faxed back to you through our office. If you should need a coggins test back sooner than the standard 2 week time frame, please inform our office when making your appointment, as we have the ability to rush a test (for an additional fee) upon request.

Your negative coggins test paperwork is an important document that should be kept with your horse during transport.

Health Certificates
This is an official document that is required for transporting horses across state lines. To obtain this form, a veterinarian must examine the horse(s) before they travel to determine that they are healthy and free of transmissible diseases. Once the exam is completed, the health certificate is valid for 30 days from the date of the exam. An appointment can be made through our office to complete a health certificate exam.

To obtain this certificate, you will need: a current negative coggins test (within the past year for horses leaving New Jersey); the name and address of where the horse is going; and the name and address of who will be shipping the horse (if not yourself). Horses traveling internationally require a different certificate. Please contact our office for more information.

Medication Rules for Horses in Competition
Recommendations for treating a horse in competition are stated in the Equine Drug and Medication guidelines provided by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). Effective as of January 2012, new regulations and changes to existing medication rules have been made with details available on their website:

For those competing in upper level FEI rated competitions, different regulations may apply. The FEI website, can provide more information. Our veterinarians are available to advise you should there be any questions on these rules.