What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Skin Seems Excessively Stretchy


Connective tissue is an intricate webbing of proteins and other molecules that hold the skin to muscle and underlying tissue (subcutaneous tissue), and gives skin tissue different characteristics in different areas.

There is great variation among individuals and breeds with respect to skin elasticity. Foals have very elastic and loose skin compared to adults. There is also great variation in elasticity and tightness to the body depending on location. There is almost no loose skin over the hindquarters, but significant loose skin in the armpit (axillary area).

Dehydrated horses have skin that does not spring back after being pulled away from the underlying tissues. The natural springiness of skin tissue requires hydration.

However, abnormally stretchy skin is also classically associated with Hereditary Equine Regional Dermal Asthenia (HERDA). This condition is seen in certain lines of foundation Quarter Horses.

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your role


What To Do

For consistency, a good place to assess the stretchiness of the skin is over the point of the shoulder. Pinch this area and then compare your finding to a similar assessment in another horse. Do your findings radically differ?

If you are unsure whether your horse's skin is abnormally stretchy or you notice wounds or other abnormalities, share your findings and concerns with your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet can determine whether the elasticity of the skin is within normal limits or not, and can determine whether the horse has HERDA with a genetic test.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • Have you noticed sores or wounds associated with the saddle?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
more treatments

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP