Equine Herpesvirus (EHV)

EHV (Equine Herpesvirus) is a ‘special’ virus because it is endemic (everywhere!) Generally it causes mild respiratory symptoms, but it can turn occasionally nasty invading deeper into the neurological system (hence neurological effects). As many people have asked, vaccination does decrease the risk of EHV as it reduces the risk of viral shedding, improving herd immunity and meaning that there will be less chance of it being spread around between horses. The vaccine is truly effective for a short period of time however; if you want general cover then you can do an annual vaccination, however better protection will be provided by vaccinating every 6 months and if you are at high risk then you can do every 4 months. Pregnant mares should be vaccinated during the 5th, 7th and 9th month of pregnancy.

We advise our clients (especially those who are planning on competing, or who have breeding horses for example), to vaccinate. The primary vaccination can be given to any horse over 5 months old, and a second should be given 4-6 weeks later, followed by the booster every 4-6 months.

You can read more about the EHV outbreak earlier this year from the Animal Health Trust, along with some advice on monitoring horses that may be at risk.

What age should I castrate my horse?

We are often asked what is the best age to castrate colts.
Providing both testicles have descended, colts can normally be castrated anywhere from 5 months – 2 years old. Any younger and the testicles may not have descended or be developed enough to remove, and any older than that and the risk of complications from bleeding can be higher (although of course, horses can still be castrated at any age).

In general, castrations can be performed in the field (meaning we can do the procedure at your yard). Both testicles are removed using an instrument called an emasculator. After the horse has recovered from anaesthesia, they are often better being able to move about, which reduces post-surgical swelling. Therefore the best time for doing the procedure is in late autumn or winter, as there will be fewer flies present, enabling the incisions to heal faster. If you want to know more about what is involved in the castration procedure, we have a helpful video here: https://youtu.be/mH0HrHFb590

Genetic testing… Can we predict winners?

Can genetic testing predict equine winners?

New research strongly suggests a correlation between genetics and good performance in eventing and dressage too. Can you imagine testing for what is the best racing distance for your horse? Or testing for a performance index?

Well, its all happening now and Genetic testing is here to stay! There are an increasing number of tests that can give us a fair answer from diseases to (more recently) performance.

As good as it sounds, could you imagine the earthquake that this could cause in the industry if we just rely on these tests? Where the art of breeding and racing would be unveiled in a blood sample?

What issues are there with genetic testing?

Most prestigious international breeders & associations of racing horses have seen several problems with these testings. They include issues such as the total validity, lack of agreement, the room for fraud, and also need for consent. Ultimately they only give you a strong probability. In other terms, they give you a predisposition but not predetermination!

The use of these tests by associations could actually damage the industry badly. Therefore they don’t get involved including or promoting genetic testing. As such, it would then be up to owners to decide what they want to test.

The breeders however have seen a benefit and they plan to gradually introduce these tests for disease and illness. For example, crippling industry diseases such as laryngeal haemaplegia.

What tests are on offer?

There are several laboratories that are offering tests. However, there is not overall agreement/validation of these increasing amounts of tests.

Some will offer disease screening: prediction of hoof problems in Connemaras, hyperkalemic paralysis in quarter horses, etc…

If you want to have a look at the menu, you could have a peek in these websites:




These tests to date haven’t yet proven a total prediction of performance ability.

If you decide to request one, we are happy to help you. But just remember that these tests are statistics, and horses don’t do statistics, but they are smart enough to prove anyone a fool!