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Genetics 000
Dark Colors

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Sooty, also called Smutty, or Shaded

Many, if not most horses have some degree of this, which is most likely a form of natural camouflage, consisting of a layer of black or other dark hairs over the center line of the back, the hips, the shoulders and sometimes other parts of body, as well as the mane & tail.

These dark to black-looking hairs grow "on top of" another color, usually gathered together into particular areas forming "smudges", usually near the top line; no doubt a form of camouflage, apparently designed to disguise the top, normally-highlighted areas of the horse.

If another animal were looking for a nice big, round, meaty meal, it would look for a big, rounded shape, defined by the light reflecting off the top surfaces.  When these surfaces have darker hair on them than the rest of the shape, they don't register as top surfaces, and the shape of the horse is effectively disguised.

Look at the old Quarter Horse in this picture.  He has dark patches on each hip bone, to minimize their appearance.  His big, round barrel (rib cage) is also counter-shaded... dark where there would naturally be highlights.  The same thing is true of his large, noble head: the top, which would normally catch the sun, is darker than his muzzle, which would normally be in its shadow.


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