Horse Coat – An Introduction

The colors of horses are based on a base color with overlying restrictions and dilutions giving us the wide range of the colors we see in horses.  Each topic will cover how all horses have one of only 2 base colors of red and black.  Restrictions are added to limit where the black is seen or not seen.  Dilutions are then added to the base colors to give us the variety.  Overlying all of this is the gray gene that dominates all colors and patterns if the gray gene is present.

The horse is then marked with patterns of white spots, patches and / or hairs making each horse an individual and even a breed as some share these patterns genetically. There are 5 groups of white markings determined by genes and there are also random markings which become unique in identifying all horses not associated with specific genes.

The order goes like this – first is the base color of red or black.  Next is a gene that allows black to be seen on red horses.  Next is the gray gene that can turn any horse gray with age.

The next layer for some horses are the dilution genes of cream and dun.  These will dilute to become buckskin, palomino, gruella and others.  

Over the base color with or without these dilutions, some will add patches of white, mixes of white hairs or white areas with spots.  

Finally, over any and all of the above bases, expressions, dilutions and markings, individual markings like a star on the face or a small white sock on one leg can randomly occur.  The idea here is that there is an order from base to final appearance.  Just follow the order.

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Horse Coat Color – Base Modifiers – The Silver Gene

SummaryArticleVideosRelated Material The silver gene (Z) is a dilution of the black base coat with or without the Agouti gene (bay). It has no effect on the red base coat. Horses with one or both Z genes will have a dilution to their coat color and therefore it is an...

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