Recognizing even the rarest colors:
The key to recognizing ANY horse color is the process of
elimination. Once you have eliminated the most common colors as
applying to the horse you are analyzing, you can begin to consider
the rarer colors.
These are general guidelines, and not
meant to substitute for the opinion of a person who knows horse
colors, or even less, for a DNA test!
That having been said, now look closely at the horse's hair, skin and eye color.
Let's begin with recognizing the most common, simplest colors.
If the horse is a dark color, and has dark skin and eyes, with
or without a little white on its face and/or feet, it's probably one
of the pure, dark colors: chestnut, bay, brown or black.
Is the horse's body reddish brown, or black?
reddish brown -- are the mane, tail & legs the same color,
or are they black?
black -- does it have tan on its muzzle and around its
Does it have white on its face or feet?
yes: this is usually caused by a sabino gene, though more
rarely it can be splash. These are considered pinto genes,
but sabino is present in most "solid colored" horses, if only
expressed by a white star or sock.
no white: looks simple enough, but the horse still may
or may not be
carrying one or more pinto genes that are simply not being expressed.
(Testing would be necessary to
completely rule them all out.)
Is it a "spotted" horse?
If the horse has white markings or hairs on its body (other
than the common star, blaze, socks, etc.), there are two ways
you may proceed:
1. determine what color it is other than the
2. determine what the white is
At this point, we will continue by analyzing the color
"under" the white markings, and leave the white for later
consideration. So, you may skip to
white here, learn
about white in the general web
site, or continue, here, with the pigmented parts of the hair and skin of the
horse whose color you are trying to identify.
NOTE: This portion has only been begun, and may even be
eliminated. The entire web site is really a guide to
determining what color a horse is, so I hope you will enjoy the rest
of it, for now. Thanks!
For now, please see the white
section in this web site.
To determine if a horse is a rare color, ask yourself:
why can't this horse (just) be one of the dark, base colors?
why can't this horse be a cream gene dilute?
why can't this horse be a gray?
why can't this horse be a type of pinto?
why can't this horse have a type of roaning?
why can't this horse be manifesting one or more of the
leopard complex (appaloosa) patterns?
Once you have exhausted those possibilities, it's time to ask
"What is it that's so different about
this horse's color?"