Last week The Horse’s staff attended the International Conference on Equine Infectious Disease (ICEID) in Lexington, Ky. This six-day event brought together the world’s leaders in equine infectious illness, including veterinarians, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and other horse-industry professionals. Topics covered included equine herpesvirus, West Nile virus, immunology, reproduction, parasitology, international movement of horses, and many more.

I have to admit, these types of events are one of the coolest things about my job in equine publishing. We editors at The Horse and TheHorse.com get to sit in on sessions that detail top-level information about the health of our horses;  we then happily translate and share that information with you via videos, news articles, and the print magazine. We also get to integrate what we learn into how we  care for our own horses.

The following are just a few points that stood out during ICEID and will change in how I manage Jack, Marathon, and our newest addition, my friend’s little mare, Unique:

  • When it comes to vaccinations, do-it-yourselfers (I count myself among you) need to take great care that they’re properly handling vaccines. Anecdotally, West Nile virus deaths in vaccinated horses often trace to owner administration, some state officials and pathologists noted. The likely cause is vaccine exposure to heat prior to inoculation, which can render it ineffective. Ever leave a newly purchased vaccine in a warm car for just a few minutes while you made a quick run into the grocery store? Small missteps such as this could leave your horse unprotected from life-threatening diseases.
  • Confused about the best way to deworm your horse? You and me both, and no wonder: No one really knows exactly the best way to deworm horses and control internal parasite populations. Rotational deworming is out, fecal testing and selective treatment is in (maybe). And drug resistance is a real concern for everyone in the industry. Fortunately for all of us, some very smart people are passionate about finding real world solutions that are good for individual horses and the broader population. (And, rest assured, we’ll keep you updated on any new parasite research and deworming recommendations here at TheHorse.com.)
  • While correct deworming protocol is murky, one thing I can do better is maintain a more consistent schedule for paddock cleaning on my property. By keeping my paddocks picked, researchers agree, I can lessen my horses’ exposure to internal parasites.
  • Marathon is a social butterfly. But, when traveling to shows, I need to be more careful about his exposure to other animals. That means no sniffy faces in the warm up visiting with neighbors in the stabling area. This small change could have a huge impact on his health.
  • It’s important to stay vigilant at horse shows and make sure officials are using new gloves each time they do a bit check on your horse. Otherwise, germs can easily spread from the mouth of one horse to another.OK, I have to stop there, even though I want to share so much more with you from this conference. However, right now we’re busily writing away to provide coverage of the sessions, and all that information also has to go through reviewers to make sure it’s factual and accurate (we take “vetting” of our content seriously to make sure you get the best information possible).

We do, however, currently have several short interview videos from our time on the ground at ICEID for you to watch. These include:


Please take a look at these videos and let us know what you think of the information these global equine-health leaders had to share.

Finally, what are your concerns about infectious disease? What safeguards do you have in place to protect your horses from exposure? And what information can we provide to help you better care for your animals?