//Horse coats patterns and colors (II)
Horse coat colors and patterns

Horse coats patterns and colors (II)

The coat is the set formed by the hairs of the body, the tail and the mane of the horse. Also It is interesting and necessary to indicate the color of the eyes and that of the hooves to completely identify a coat.

There are also  another marks called white marks that identify individual animals. Markings usually have pink skin underneath them and white hairs may extend past the area of underlying pink skin.

In this article we will tell you about other horse coat patterns and colors.

HORSE Colors & Markings (educational) by Twombly Publishing

Horses exhibit a diverse array of coat colors and distinctive markings. A specialized vocabulary has evolved to describe them.

What are the patterns of horse’s coat?

The basic scheme of color genetics of equine fur has been largely solved. DNA tests are used to determine the probability that a horse has offspring of a certain color. The discussion and the investigation continue on some aspects and details on the color patterns, in particular those that surround the patterns of spots and some variants derived from genetic defects.

Horse coat patterns and colors
Horse coat patterns and colors

Genetics behinde equine colors

Genetically, all horses have red or black base colors according to geneticists. The so-called “reds” by geneticists with what are called chestnut in equestrian slang. These are represented by the absence of the extension gene (“e”). Blacks are based on the presence of the extension gene (“E”). Therefore, red or brown (“ee”) and black (“EE” or “Ee”) are the two equine base colors.

The Bay color is expressed when a common genetic modifier, the Agouti gene, works on the black base color. The wide range of patterns and colors of coats are created by the action of additional modifier genes on one of these three layer colors.

Statistically, the most commonly seen horse color phenotypes are identified by the following terms:


Body color ranges from a light reddish-brown to very dark brown. The main color variations are:

  • Dark bay: very dark red or brown hair.
  • Blood bay: bright red hair; often considered simply “bay”.
  • Brown: The word “brown” is used by some breed registries to describe dark bays.


A reddish body color with no black. The main color variations are:

  • Liver chestnut: very dark brown coat.
  • Sorrel: Reddish-tan to red coat, about the color of a new penny. It is the most common shade of this base color.
  • Blond or light chestnut: term for lighter tan coat with pale mane and tail.


A horse with black skin but white or mixed dark and white hairs. Gray horses can be born any color, and lighten as they age. Variations of gray that a horse may exhibit over its lifetime include:

  • Salt and Pepper or “steel” gray: Usually a younger horse, an animal with white and dark hairs.
  • Dapple gray: a dark-colored horse with lighter rings of graying hairs.
  • Fleabitten gray: an otherwise fully white-haired horse that develops red hairs.
  • Rose gray: a gray horse with a reddish or pinkish tinge to its coat.

There is a mark that identifies uniquely horses?

The simple answer is yes. Markings on horses are distinctive white areas on an otherwise dark base coat color. Horses have some markings, and they help us to identify the horse as a unique individual. Markings are present at birth and do not change over the course of its life. Most markings have pink skin underneath of the white hairs. There are different markings on horse body which are: Facial markings and Leg markings.

Horse Face Markings
Horse Face Markings

There are other marks on the rest of the horse’s body that help us identify them in a unique way. But this will be the subject of another article on the horse coats patterns and colors. See you soon.







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