exhibit a diverse array of coat colors
and distinctive markings
. A specialized vocabulary has evolved to describe them. Color is one of the first things that is noticed about a horse. Often, a horse is first described by its coat color rather than by breed or by sex.
While most horses remain the same color throughout life, a few, over the course of several years, will develop a different coat color from that with which they were born. Most white markings
are present at birth, and the underlying skin color of a horse does not change, absent disease.
The basic outline of equine coat color genetics
has largely been resolved, and DNA
tests to determine the likelihood that a horse will have offspring of a given color have been developed for some colors. Discussion, research, and even controversy continues about some of the details, particularly those surrounding spotting patterns, color sub-shades such as "sooty" or "flaxen," and markings
Basic coat colors
, all horses start out as either chestnut
, called "red" by geneticists
, represented by the absence of the extension gene ("e"); or black based on the presence of the extension gene ("E"). Therefore, red ("ee") and black ("EE" or "Ee") are the two base colors. The Bay color is expressed when the common genetic modifier, the Agouti
gene works on the Black. The vast range of all other coat colors are created by additional genes... Read More