I was texting the woman that I lease my horse from and we were anxiously discussing the recent EHM outbreak in a surrounding area. I was supposed to ride one of her OTTBs in a jump lesson on Sunday (March 31st) but we decided against trailering the horse out for it. He hadn’t gotten his vaccinations yet this year and we didn’t know if he would come into contact with the virus at the facility we were planning on going to.
If you don’t know what EHM is, it’s short for Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy. It’s a neurological disease (associated with Equine Herpesvirus infections) that damages the blood vessels in the brain and spinal cord (United States Department of Agriculture). The most common form of Equine Herpesvirus or EHV is highly unlikely to kill a horse, but it could cause an abortion or other respiratory issues. 30% to 50% of horses with EHM though will die (Warren). EHM, better stated by UF College of Veterinary Medicine, is the neurological form of herpes, spread by horse-to-horse contact or contact with any contaminated surface.
Since the facility we were planning on going to does show regularly as well as host shows regularly (they had one in the past couple of weeks), we decided to cancel the lesson. I would instead have a nice, chill jump school at home. It wasn’t worth risking, especially since the horse we were going to take hadn’t gotten his spring shots yet. When in situations like this, you need to ask yourself (whether your horse is vaccinated or not): Is it worth it?