Industry Perceptions of HERDA in Performance Horses

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© 2020 Hereditary equine regional derma asthenia (HERDA), an autosomal-recessive trait, found in Quarter Horses, causes abnormal collagen structure. Owing to current breeding practices, 3.5% of registered quarter horses and 28.3% of the cow horse population are heterozygote carriers. Research demonstrated homozygote horses develop hyperextensible skin susceptible to injury and other abnormal tissues containing high fibrillar collagen content. No research exists determining the effects of the disease in heterozygote carriers. Currently, 30% of cutting sires are HERDA carriers, potentially increasing the number of heterozygous individuals when bred. The objective of the present study is to gauge knowledge of the disease, perception, and concerns of the diseases’ impact on horse performance and perceived value and breeding decisions. A Qualtrics link was distributed to horse owners via extension specialists and was available online on equine-related Facebook pages. Overall group means and standard deviations for constructs were reported. A total of 228 responses were collected. Most participants were involved in reining and cutting and 34.6% reported they were very familiar with the disease. Participants (78.5%) reported that HERDA status affects value of a breeding animal. Owners of HERDA carriers (62.5%) noticed no difference in performance or injury compared with noncarriers. Respondents (95.2%) believed that all breeding animals should have HERDA status available. Respondents are attempting to make informed breeding decisions based on HERDA status by pairing carriers with noncarriers; however, it remains to be seen if that is adequate to control the disease. Education regarding breeding practices and its impact on the genetic pool are warranted.

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Journal of Equine Veterinary Science

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