What vaccinations your horse receives should be dependent on their specific risk of exposure to given diseases. For horses that do not travel to other barns, shows, or arenas, and do not mix with other populations of horses, vaccination against respiratory pathogens that are passed from horse to horse such as herpesvirus, influenza, and Strep equi (“Strangles”) is probably not necessary. However, some vaccinations target diseases that are not passed from horse to horse. The bacterium that causes tetanus is ubiquitous in the soil, and enters the body via wounds. No contact with other horses is necessary to be afflicted with tetanus. Other diseases can be spread by blood-sucking insects, namely West Nile Virus and Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis (EEE/WEE). The source of the virus that the mosquitos carry is not other horses, but rather wild birds. Finally, rabies virus is found in the saliva of an infected animal, and is usually spread by bite wounds from infected bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, or other animals. Although a “pasture ornament” may not require all the same vaccines as an actively competing show horse, we still recommend that they are vaccinated against diseases that are not spread by horse to horse contact—tetanus, West Nile virus, EEE/WEE, and potentially rabies. Stay tuned in the coming days for more in depth information on each of these diseases!