Monday, August 27, 2012

Coat Colors

Horses come in a wide variety of colors. Not only are the colors diverse, but the names that describe the colors are also very diverse. This is where things can get confusing if you don't know the difference between a sorrel with a flaxen mane and tail and a palomino, a grulla and a roan, or the difference between a white and grey horse. And that is where I come in! Below, you will find a basic overview, some colors and their descriptions.

First things first! Horse colors stem from two base colors, the red base and the black base.  Bay is not a base, sorry guys! These two base colors create the basic coat colors of the horse, including: bay, chestnut, black, and brown. These basic colors may be further diluted by certain genes in order to create the cream, champagne, pearl, silver, and dun colors. White patterning genes may also change the basic colors of the horse and create dominant white, tobiano, appaloosa, overo, grey and roan colors. The colors of the horse's coat are determined by the genes of the breeding cross between the mother (dam) and father (sire).

Here are some of the basic colors that, more often than not, you will see around the barn/show grounds/ etc.:

Bay 

Cleveland Bay Stallion
The body of the horse is usually a deep red or reddish brown color. The points of the horse (meaning the mane, tail and lower legs) are black. Bay is a modified black gene and therefore comes from the black base color. There can be variations of this color, where the strength of the color on the body can be darker or lighter than a simple bay horse. However, the coat still has to have a be some shade of red with black points.

AMNH-Bay

Chestnut

Property of AzraelsRose13 aka Kristina Ransbury
Horses with this coat color are usually a reddish color without the black points. The mane and tail are usually the same color as the body or even a few shades lighter. Chestnut is a modified red gene and therefore comes from the red base color. There can be variations of this color, where the strength of the color on the body can be darker or lighter than a medium chestnut coat color. 

AMNH-Chestnut

Black

Virtual Horse Ranch

Horses with this coat color are usually black. The mane and tail are usually the same color as the body. The black coat color comes from the black base gene.  There are two types of black coat colors. The non-fading black and the fading black coat color. The non-fading black coat color stays black even through the summers and usually has a blue-black sheen to the coat. The fading black coat color fades during the summer months so that it is a little more brown.

Brown

Powderbark Stud
Horses with this coat color usually have a black or brown coat with lighter points around the nose, flank, belly, eyes, inside upper legs, and girth. The mane and tail are usually the same color as the body. Brown is a modified black gene and therefore comes from the black base color. This color can sometimes be called seal brown or black and tan.

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