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HERDA Traces to Poco Bueno

“It doesn’t matter what you call it,” says Rashmir, “it’s the same disease.” For the purposes of this article, we’ll use HC to refer to this hereditary disease.

When a horse has HC, there is a lack of adhesion within the dermis, the deep layer of skin, due to a collagen defect. Think of it like glue holding the skin layers together, only with HC, the glue is inferior. Because the layers are not held firmly together, they separate. When the horse is ridden under saddle or suffers trauma to the skin, the outer layer often splits or separates from the deeper layer, or it can tear off completely. It rarely heals without disfiguring scars. New damaged areas arise continuously, sometimes even without obvious trauma.

There are cases where horses with HC have lived to a fairly old age, says Rashmir, but they are treated as pets and great care must be taken to prevent trauma that can rip the skin. Sunburn can also be a concern. In dramatic cases, says Rashmir, the skin can split along the back and even roll down the sides, with the horse literally being skinned alive. Generally speaking, she says, the average lifespan for an HC horse is two to four years.

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