coat colors


Black : Black is relatively uncommon, though it is not „rare“. There are two types of black, fading black and non-fading black. Most black horses will fade to a brownish color if the horse is exposed to sunlight on a regular basis. Non-fading black is a blue-black shade that does not fade in the sun. Genetically, the two cannot yet be differentiated, and some claim the difference occurs due to management rather than genetics, though this claim is hotly disputed. Most black foals are usually born a mousy grey or dun color. As their foal coat begins to shed out, their black color will show through, though in some breeds black foals are born jet black. For a horse to be considered black, it must be completely black except for white markings. A sun-bleached black horse is still black, even though it may appear to be a dark bay or brown. A visible difference between a true black and a dark chestnut or bay is seen in the fine hairs around the eyes and muzzle; on a true black these hairs are black, even if the horse is sun-bleached, on other colors, they will be lighter.

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Brindle: One of the rarest colors in horses, possibly linked to chimerism. Characteristics are any color with „zebra-like“ stripes, but most common is a brown horse with faint yellowish markings.

Champagne: Produced by a different dilution gene than the cream gene. It lightens both skin and hair, but creates a metallic gold coat color with mottled skin and light colored eyes. Champagne horses are often confused with palomino, cremello, dun, or buckskins.

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Palomino: chestnut horse that has one cream dilution gene that turns the horse to a golden, yellow, or tan shade with a flaxen or white mane and tail. Often cited as being a color „within three shades of a newly minted gold coin“, palominos range in shades from extremely light, almost cremello, to deep chocolate, but always with a white or flaxen mane and tail.

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White : One of the rarest colors, a white horse has white hair and fully or largely unpigmented (pink) skin. These horses are born white, with blue or brown eyes, and remain white for life. The vast majority of so-called „white“ horses are actually grays with a fully white hair coat. A truly white horse that lives to adulthood occurs one of two ways: either by inheriting one copy of a dominant white („W“) gene, of which several have been identified, or is a particular type of sabino that is homozygous for the „SB-1“ gene. However, a foal with the genetic disease known as lethal white syndrome dies shortly after birth. There are no „albinos“ in the horse world. Albino, defined as animals with a white coat with pink skin and reddish eyes, is created by genetic mechanisms that do not exist in horses. In some cases, homozygous dominant white is thought to be an embryonic lethal, though this has not been established for all white horses.

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