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Monday, March 4, 2013

Horse Coat Patterns

Picture Credit: http://www.petsfoto.com/
Last week I went over the names of horse colors. This week I'm continuing to discuss horses by going over the names of coat patterns.

My book is not a western, and it hardly goes into horses at all--but as I explained in an earlier blog, I did quite a bit of research on horses because my main character grew up with them and encounters them from time to time. A character who knows horses is going to see them differently than someone like me would see them. Giving my character a natural response and knowledge of horses meant research for me!

As with my previous blogs, all you horse-lovers out there are not going to be learning much from this. But as always, I appreciate any comments you may have.

Horses are not only classified by their breeds and colors. They are also classified by their coat patterns. You'll notice that some of the coat patterns are the same as in the colors list, but many are different. There are 6 main types of coat patterns:

  • Appaloosa- This denotes any type of spotting--such as the picture above--but the spotting doesn't have to be so distinct for the horse to be called appaloosa. As a side note, there is also a breed of horse with the same name. But the breed and the coat patterns are separate matters.
  • Dominant White- These horses are white, but may have markings of other colors on their coats. They have brown eyes.
  • Dun- The pigment in each hair of these horse's coats is concentrated to just one side of the hair. The legs of these horses tend to be darker because the pigment is better distributed, but their bodies have a diluted look to them. They can be shades of red or black.
  • Grey- These horses have a mixture of white and colored hairs over a dark skin.
  • Pinto- The pinto horse (frequently known as a paint) has patterns of white and colored or black hair. Within the pinto family are the following four types of coat patterns:
    • Overo/Sabino/Splashed White/Tobiano- A layman  like me, will have a difficult time determining which of these four classifications to assign a white and colored coat pattern. In fact, even among those with horse experience, these horses are mis-classified--the safe way to tell would be to take a look at the horse's genes. As an interesting note, the splashed white pattern is linked to deafness--though most splashed white horses are not deaf.
  • Roan- White hairs grow intermittently with the colored hairs in these horses' coats except for on the head, tail, and legs. This creates a body that appears lighter than the head and legs. Horses of any color can be roan, but it is more visible on darker horses.
That's all for now on horses, but I hope you'll agree that it has sure been interesting to learn about! As with last week's blog, I'll refer you to another site for more-detailed information. Click here to learn more about both colors and coat patterns.


  1. This must've taken a lot of work to research! Thanks for going to all that work to make your story that much more believable!!! I'm rooting for you 'cause I'm in the same boat (trying to publish a book!) and we authors need to stick together!!!
    PS, I liked reading about the horses, I am perfectly horse crazy and proud of it. :)

  2. Thanks for rooting me on! I'm interested to see your blog, too. I don't know about you, but I think it's fascinating learning about topics like this--until it came up in my novel, I didn't think I'd ever be researching horses.

    Sounds like you came to my blog already knowing a lot about horses. I hope I was still able to make a comment or two in there that was new information.

    Thanks for visiting!