Hereditary equine regional dermal asthenia (HERDA) is a genetic skin disease predominantly found in the American Quarter Horse. Within the breed, the disease is prevalent in particular lines of cutting horses. HERDA is characterized by hyperextensible skin, scarring, and severe lesions along the back of affected horses. Affected foals rarely show symptoms at birth. The condition typically occurs by the age of two, most notably when the horse is first being broke to saddle. There is no cure, and the majority of diagnosed horses are euthanized because they are unable to be ridden and are inappropriate for future breeding. HERDA has an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance and affects stallions and mares in equal proportions. Research carried out in Dr. Danika Bannasch's laboratory at the University of California, Davis, has identified the gene and mutation associated with HERDA.
The diagnostic DNA test for HERDA that has been developed allows identification of horses that are affected or that carry the specific mutation. Other skin conditions can mimic the symptoms of HERDA. The DNA test will assist veterinarians to make the correct diagnosis. For horse breeders, identification of carriers is critical for the selection of mating pairs. Breedings of carrier horses have a 25% chance of producing an affected foal. Breedings between normal and carrier horses will not produce a HERDA foal although 50% of the foals are expected to be carriers.
Results reported as:
|N/N||Normal - horse does not have the HERDA gene.|
|N/HRD||Carrier - horse carries one copy of the HERDA gene.|
|HRD/HRD||Affected - horse has two copies of the HERDA gene.|