Vaccination Requirements for Dressage Competition

Can I Still Show If My Horse Can’t Be Vaccinated?

Q: I’m aware of the new USEF-imposed vaccination requirements for horses competing in a USEF-licensed competition. But some horses can have an adverse reaction to certain vaccinations. What is an owner/competitor to do if her horse can’t be vaccinated? Will they still be allowed to show?
Name withheld by request

D. Craig Barnett, DVM: As of last December, all horses entering the grounds of a USEF-licensed competition, including all USEF/USDF dressage shows, must be accompanied by documentation of equine influenza virus (EIV) and equine herpesvirus (EHV) vaccinations within six months prior to entering the stables. In the case of a horse who is unable to receive either of the vaccinations due to a history of vaccine-associated adverse events, the exhibitor, upon request by competition management, must provide a letter from the veterinarian stating that the horse in question cannot be vaccinated due to medical concerns and a log of temperatures taken twice daily for the seven days prior to entering the competition grounds. These horses must also have their temperature taken and logged twice daily while on the competition grounds. The rule (GR845) can be viewed in its entirety online at 

D. Craig Barnett, DVM, is the director of the Merck Animal Health equine veterinary technical services team. During his 20-plus years in the industry he has been involved in many aspects of product development and support, including numerous field-safety and clinical trials. Barnett enjoys his own horses at his ranch in Kansas.