Lets talk coat color and genetics

The coat color of horses is a very interesting subject. There are differences of coat colors versus coat patterns. For example a pinto/paint is a color pattern and the paint horse is also further restricted to breeds. Within that color pattern there are 2 major patterns of either mostly white or mostly non-white. Yes it gets complicated. Back to the subject of color, there is a wide assortment of colors.

To the untrained eye, a brown horse is simply a brown horse. To those who have a bit more knowledge that brown horse could be a bay or a chestnut. To those who have studied a little more about horse colors, that bay might a dark dun with dorsal stripe. It is those subtle differences in genetics that determine what true color the horse is.

My personal experience

I started to get interested in color genetics when I bred my first mare. Her sire was a black and white tobiano but she was a black bay. I wanted a black and white tobiano from her, just like her sire. I had to choose the right stud for her to mate to get the color I wanted. Yes it was successful, the result was a black and white tobiano colt.

The next time that color genetics was interesting to me was when I bought a little miniature horse. He was just 3 months old and was a mousy grey color. I was hoping that he would shed out to be the same color as his mother, a blue roan but I first thought that he was a smokey black because of his sire’s color, a palomino. As he grew and shed out several more times his dark dorsal stripe along his spine became more prominent along with his black legs. He was still a mousy grey and during the winter months his dorsal stripe and dark legs disappear under his thick winter coat. I am now confidant that he is a  grulla color. He has the genetic DNA for a grulla. If you are interested in finding out more about this color horse and its genetics then visit this page.

More information

Yes, color genetics can be very strange at times. For more information on color genetics and identification of colors and color patterns in horses, check out this book on Amazon: Quick Guide To Horse Color Identification – 2017 Edition.

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