Most people with regular sized horses get them a multitude of shots so it should be any different with miniature horses right? Well it depends on who you talk to so I would read this article first then go talk to your local vet about what is actually needed and then some locals as well on how they handle or would handle the situation.
We aren’t here to really debate whether you should be vaccinating or giving shots to your mini horse we are here to help you decide which ones you should give. We have added in real answers and opinions from many other mini owners on this matter.
So what shots should you give your miniature horse?
This can vary quite a bit based on where you live on what shots your mini will need. In general you should be giving your mini West Nile, Eastern and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE/WEE), Tetanus and Rabies. They can have all these vaccines in one shot called a 4 way, but not all do it this way and can be separated out and different injection sites 1-2 weeks apart.
Vaccinations For Mini Horses
First time vaccinations are the toughest as you want to watch your horse closely just in case they do have a reaction. If you bought the horse and the owner has the sires then ask about how they reacted to their shots. Workout a plan and if possible get your new mini on track with your other horses.
Core Vaccines (Shots) For Minis
Tetanus – this is a must for most mini owners as they are closer to the ground then regular horses so they are exposed to a lot of dirt and manure. This can cause contamination of any small cut or wound. After the initial vaccine you need an annual booster. This is a low risk high reward shot to get so that is why we recommend it and your vet more then likely will as well.
West Nile Virus – unfortunately the West Nile Virus has spread across the 48 continental United States. Mostly carried by bird, but transmitted by mosquitoes to horses. All vaccines for West Nile seem to be safe and have a great track record as your vet will likely state.
Easter/Western Equine Encephalitis – just like west nile this neurological disease is also carried by birds, but transmitted to horses by mosquitoes. After initial shot just a annual booster for most areas depending on the length of the mosquito season in your area.
Rabies – Another fatal neurological disease that affects all warm blooded animals. A wide array of animals can transmit this disease including raccoons, foxes, skunks, dogs, bats, cats, etc. They simply bite your horse and that is it for transmitting it. This shot is also low risk high reward and given annually.
That is it for the main core shots you should get for your mini.
Non Core Vaccines For Mini Horses
Here is a list of vaccines you can look into with your vet since it will be based more on the immediate risk with your situation or location.
Influenza Virus – this is more for a traveling horse your vet might recommend.
Strangles – usually doesn’t protect 100% against strangles but can help ward off. This will be up to your vet and you to take a risk on this as they are reported downsides.
Potomac Horse Fever (PHF) – diarrhea disease that is caused from eating infected insects that includes ticks.
Vaccines and Mini’s
We love our minis and think they do need annual shots to help protect them and allow them to have a long happy life. But don’t take our word for it we have gotten a list of answers from real horse owners on this matter.
We curated these answers from several different forums and sub reddits.
Here’s what these owners had to say about shots for their minis:
Real Owners Answers
1. Splash’s Mom “Get Your Vet Out There” – My advice to you would be have your vet show you how and where. If you have never done it before please don’t try to learn at your minis expense. I don’t mean to sound harsh but you can do alot of damage if you are not careful where and how you inject.
2. MiniMor “Always Vaccinates Herself” – I almost always vaccinate in the neck–using the same safe triangle area that we used on the big horses.
In actual fact, giving a vaccine on top the horse’s croup is not the correct place to vaccinate–in the event of a serious reaction, this area cannot drain on its own. The correct spot to give a needle in the hindquarters is partway down the backside, next to the tail–I am not going to attempt to describe the exact area! I don’t personally like using this spot, but in the event of a reaction there is good natural drainage…however, given in the wrong area of the horse’s hindquarters you can also cause nerve damage.
3. Kendra “Hip or Neck Injections” – I give vaccines in the neck, unless I have a horse who I know is prone to minor reactions, then I give them in the hip – the long muscle alongside their tail – so that they use the muscle more and work the stiffness out. And I agree with Minimor – never give an injection on the top of the croup.
I take a pinch of skin in one hand and wiggle it as a distraction, putting the needle in right next to it. Draw back on the syringe to make sure you’re not in a vein and then inject. And I never use the needles that come with the prepackaged vaccines – they’re WAY too big. A smaller (higher gauge) needle will make it much more pleasant for all involved.
4. Carolyn R “Gives 5-way” – You’ll get many different answers and combinations, some based on if you are showing, others based on what region you live in. I am sure there are those that live in dry arid regions that have never had to consider giving west nile, I am in Eastern Pa and I give it. Things are also based on the age of an animal (too young or too old may play into the scenario for risk issues) or if they are in foal, or health issues..
The best thing I could say is talk to your vet about the “standard shots” they give for your area. Usually there is a basic series of shots for specific regions, then you take into consideration the specific animal and their use.
Here, I give 5-way (has tet. in it), rabies and west nile.
5. Taylor Jo “5 way as well” – I have the vet give a 5 way and WNV shot to my horses and I give Spring and Winter shots as per needed. WNV once a year. I also have strangles innernasel done, however my filly they think had a reaction to it, so we’re not so sure we’re going to give it next year. Plus, here in MO your “REQUIRED” to have your horse have a coggins every year just not when you sell it.
I know a lot of people give they’re own shots but I like the vet to do it b/c he always gives them the once over and JUST in case he sees something I might miss, I just feel more comfortable. Good luck. TJ
6. Jill “Vaccinates WNV, E/W Encephalitis, Tetanus and Rabies” – Here my horses get vaccinated for WNV, E/W Encephalitis, Tetanus, and Rabies.
Pregnant mares get a 5-way (flu, rhino, E/W Encephalitis, and tetanus) about 30 days prior to foaling and their WNV and Rabies shots after foaling.
Show horses are also vaccinated for Flu / Rhino.
One vaccine I used to give but now question is Potomac Fever, because as I understand it, the vaccine covers only one of many strains and is not very reliable. However, I am open to more information / input on this. I’m unsure about the value of it at this time (?).
Show and sale horses (those who will be traveling) get coggins tests.
We give our shots in the spring before the bugs start biting.
7. AttWoode “Possibly 1/2 Dose” – Talk with your vet about 1/2 dose vaccinations for the ones that can cause the worst reactions. As far as I know this has not been tested but should be. A 1200 lb horse gets the same dose as a tiny mini. my vet tried to get a rep from the companies to pay for bloodwork, but they declined. Afterall why would they want us to buy less vaccine? I think this should be considered withyour vet, especially for boosters.
8. Nathan Luszcz “Plan Out The Year” – Every area will be slightly different as far as vaccines. This is what I do.
December: Arvac for the stallions (EVA vaccine, given one to two months before the breeding season)
March: Spring shots; four way shot, lasts six months (EEE, WEE, VEE (optional), and tetnus); Prevenile (WN) or Recombitek WNV, lasts 12 months (I don’t waste my money with the Fort Dodge vaccines); Pinnicle, Strangles IN (the only FD product I buy, lasts 12 months), Recombitek rFlu (lasts one year), Rabies (lasts 12 months)
March, and every three months (show horses) or every six months (other low-risk horses), Rhinomune (rhinonuminitis)
You’ll note that I don’t use 5, 7, etc “ways” shots… I buy the best shots I can individually. Each company has a few really good vaccines and some average ones… I pick and choose and give the best in each catagory. Why bother vaccinating with flu and WN every three months when I can use one shot with Recombitek, for example, that lasts 12 months?
I do an EVA titer when we vaccinate with Arvac, Coggins with spring shots and again in the fall (every six months), and Health certs every four months (required for intrastate travel in Kentucky, unfortunately).
It is VERY important to use a full dose vaccine for all horses, 2400lbs or 200lbs. Vaccines are not dosed on weight, they are dosed on immune system. One immune system, one dose. If your horse happens to have two immune systems, give them two doses. If you are having issues with reactions, switch brands and use something other than Fort Dodge. They are known for reactions, and lots of them.
9. ShortHorseMom “Not All At Once” – I don’t bolus vaccines and I argue with the vets that want to come out and give all the shots at once. I have seen way too many reactions in dogs and horses within two weeks of the vaccinations. They have done the research in dogs, Google Jean Dodds research on over vaccinating in dogs and related articles called “stop the shots”,… The research isn’t there for horses yet, but it needs to be, the dog research is way ahead. I believe in vaccinations, but believe you should not overload and give all at once. On dogs, we should only vaccinate every 3 years now. I had an 14 year old pony given to me for my children. The vet insisted on a “full series of vaccinations and gave what seemed like everything under the sun for three months straight. Shortly there after the pony developed cushings and foundered. This same vet overloaded my pony on bute and killed the pony. Needless to say I found another vet. Just some rambling thoughts, but my point isn’t that the vaccination caused the cushings, but I do believe that vaccinations can bring out something lingering just below the surface on some animals and once you knock the immune system a bit you bring it forward. My younger mini got swollen eyes and an eye infection last year within 7 days of vaccination. The vet said, not related and that he probably had allergies. Now that I spread out my vaccinations and don’t bolus, he has had no re-occurance of this “allergy”. Anyway, my two cents worth, there is lots of very interesting reading on the vaccine debate and how it relates to other issues. Cheers.
10. AlphaHOrses “Take Your Time Planning” – I agree with everyone who said talk to your vet. Make some time to sit down and talk over a vaccination schedule.
This is a good starting point for discussions with your vet http://www.aaep.org/pdfs/AAEP_vacc_guide.pdf
My vet recommends – and I agree – that if I do not have proof that a horse has been both vaccinated and properly boostered, I treat them as if they have never been vaccinated before and give them shots followed by boosters at the recommended interval. A lot of people forget the boosters the first year, and if they never received those boosters, you are just be throwing money away every time you vaccinate.
Don’t give 1/2 doses unless the manufacturer or vet recommends it – again, you could be just throwing your money away and leaving your horse vulnerable.
There is a lot of info there to digest. So take your time and talk to your local vet and anyone in your area with minis if possible. The initial shots for a young mini are the toughest and leave you with a lot of anxiety at times thinking about possible reactions.
Stick to your core shots at first and you can always expand from there. No reason to overdue it right away unless you have high risks for a certain disease that can be prevented with a vaccine.