Clearing Up the Color Confusion

Does anyone else have some confusion over horse colors? I sure do. How to describe a sorrel colored horse, or a dun and buckskin; these are questions I’ve had. How about you?

I can’t remember which horse is a paint and which one is pinto. I do discuss the Paint and Pinto difference in another blog here.

Then there are palominos and appaloosas, not to mention a chestnut or bay.

Palomino

The palominos are like Roy Rogers’s Trigger and Wilbur’s Mr. Ed. Palominos are a color breed and have to live up to certain criteria to be considered. They must boast the golden color with white tail and mane and have white patterns on face and legs.

Appaloosa

Appaloosas are the spotted ones. John Wayne rode an Appaloosa in one of his movies. Blacks, whites, and greys are pretty easy to see, but they probably have different shades and hues.

My pretty dappled Sandy..

Dun and Buckskin

The dun colored horse has the stripe on its back reaching from the base of the mane by the withers, to the tail. It is fairly wide and where the buckskin may have some kind of a stripe, it is mostly from shading of the color and not as broad and noticeable.

A dun horse also has the horizontal stripes on their forehead that can continue down the shoulder and onto their legs. My horse, Sandy was buckskin who I always thought, at the time, was a dun. Her prettiest feature was the dappling on her coat. She didn’t have any stripes on her legs. She had white socks with some darker brown.

What it all seems to come to is the buckskin has a dilution gene that is cream based and the dun has a base dun dilution gene. What I have found is that the easiest way to tell these two colors apart on a horse is the dark stripe on the back. The dun is the one with the stripe and the buckskin doesn’t have one. Of course you have to be close enough to the horse to see the stripe. So if seeing one out in a pasture is probably not going to be good enough.

There is also the red dun color that is called grulla. These are very beautiful, flashy colored horses. So it seems it is all in the genetics.

Sorrel and Chestnut

The sorrels and chestnuts are shades of brown. In my reading about these colors, it seems they are the same. The chestnut is the English version and the sorrel came from the cowboys out on the range.

Of course there are different shades of sorrel and chestnut, but seems this only matters in the registry book.

Poppy is a bay with black mane and tail and black legs.

Bay

What about the bay? My little mare Poppy is a bay. She’s dark brown with black mane and tail, black tips on her ears, indicating she is a bay. She has two partly white legs and the other two are black.

I put this post out here as an overview of horse colors. For more information of specifics I would refer to a site that goes into more details. I found good information on Wikipedia.

Thanks for stopping by. Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. I’ll do my best to answer.

Top image courtesy of Pixabay

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