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Helpful Terminology to Discuss the Coat Color of Horses

Updated: Jan 10


If you have ever seen a herd of horses, whether in person or in a movie, you have likely noticed that they come in many shapes, sizes, but they come in even more colors. A horse’s coloring is due to genetics, and every horse’s coat starts with a red or black base and then gets altered due to genes from there.


Not only are horse coat colors and markings interesting to learn about, but they can help you discuss horses with others, too!


An Overview of Common Horse Coat Colors

If you would like to learn all the terms related to a horse’s coat color, read on for all the info!

  • Gray: Can range from nearly white to a charcoal color

  • Bay: A deep or reddish-brown featuring black manes, tails, muzzles, ears and legs

  • Buckskin: Also in the brown family, but typically more lightly colored with black manes and tails

  • Brown: A consistent, dark brown all over, with slightly lighter muzzles and flanks and either black or brown manes and tails

  • Black: Entirely black from head to toe, with a black mane and tail

  • Dun: Tan, reddish or gold coats, with black manes and tales, with a distinctive darker stripe down the spine

  • Roan: Similar to duns, but with white hairs intermixed with a dark shade of brown or black

  • Palomino: Golden horses with manes and tails that range from blonde to white

  • Chestnut: Encompasses all shades of red coats, with the mane and the tail matching or lighter than the coat

  • Pinto: Have any base coat color, but are identified due to large, irregular white patches on a dark base

  • Paint: The same characteristics as the pinto coat, but paint is actually a horse breed derived from Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse descent with the distinctive pinto pattern.

  • White: Truly white horses are quite rare, with most “white” coats actually being a light grey color. True white horses are identified by their pink skin and brown or blue eyes.

  • Appaloosa: Appaloosa is often used to describe any horse with a spotted coat, but similar to paints, Appaloosas are actually a breed closely related to mustangs. The proper term for a horse that is spotted without Appaloosa blood is simply spotted.

  • Dappled: A horse with spots that are less pronounced than a spotted coat is considered dappled, and while this is the most common in grey horses, it can happen on any coat color

If you would like to come see horses for yourself and identify their coat colors, come see us! We are booking for the 2022 season now.


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