Horse Colors

Horses are designed in many different colors! If you could have any color horse, what would your dream horse look like?

A black horse is black all over with a black mane and tail. Sometimes black horses' coats may be bleached by the sun and appear reddish or brown, which some people commonly mistake for a bay. Black horses with a sun-bleached coat are still considered black. An easy way to tell if a horse is black or bay is to look at the horse's muzzle (the area around its nose and mouth). If the muzzle is brown, the horse is a bay; if the muzzle is black, the horse is considered black. A famous black horse is Black Beauty.

Pinto horses are well known for their beautiful colored coat with large patches of white. They can range in color from palomino, gray, roan, bay, dun, black, brown or chestnut with large areas of patched white. Pinto colored horses are not a 'breed'. They may be any breed. Pinto horses are known as Piebald or Skewbald. Piebald: the coat consists of large irregular and clearly defined patches of black and white hairs. Skewbald: the coat consists of large irregular and clearly defined patches of white and any other color, except black. Pinto horses have one of three distinctive coat patterns: Overo, Tobiano and Tovero. Overo: has colored hair on most of the body and white spots or splotches. Usually an overo will have colored legs, a colored mane and a colored tail. Tobiano: has a mostly white body and colored spots. A tobiano will usually have white legs. Tovero: is a combination of Overo and Tobiano. Many Pintos have blue or white eyes that have been called: glass eyes, wall-eyes, and blue-eyes. A Pinto's markings are always present at birth; they do not appear over time.

A chestnut horse has a reddish brown coat. There are many different types of chestnuts and the colors may range from a light red to a deep mahogany. A famous chestnut horse is the horse Dreamer.

A gray horse is a horse that has white hair, however, it is not considered white because it has black skin. The combination of white hair and black skin gives the gray appearance on the horse's coat. Gray's can look anywhere from very white to silver. Sometimes, a gray horse may have darker legs than it's body. At birth, gray horses are usually black, and as they get older, they get lighter. The younger the horse is, the darker it usually will be. A famous gray horse is the United States of America Olympic horse Courageous Comet ridden by Becky Holder.

Dapple Gray
Some grays also have dapples, or spots on their coats. These horses are called dapple grays.

Flea-bitten Gray
There is also another type of gray called flea-bitten gray. These horses have tiny brown spots on them.

A palomino horse has a cream to golden colored coat and a white mane and tail. The skin is dark gray, black or brown. The eyes are black, hazel or brown. They can have markings on their head and/or legs. A famous palomino horse is Roy Roger's horse, Trigger.

Paint horses have two or more colors on their coats and they appear to have spots or patterns, like a cow. They are white with another color (brown, black, red, gold). There are two main types of paint horses--tobiano and overo. A famous paint horse is the horse Rain in "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron".

Tobiano Paint
A tobiano paint horse is one with a mostly white body and colored spots. A tobiano will usually have white legs.

Overo Paint
An overo paint horse is one with the colored hair on most of the body and with white spots or splotches. Usually, an overo will have colored legs, a colored mane, and a colored tail.

A bay horse is a brown colored horse with black points. This means that the mane, tail, legs, and nose are all black. A bay horse can be very light brown to very dark brown. A famous bay horse is the racehorse Seabiscuit.

A true white horse is rare. White horses are born solid white. They have pink skin and brown eyes. Sometimes they will have blue eyes. White horses remain white their whole lives.

The buckskin's color can appear from a very light cream, to yellow, tan, or gold. They will have black points--a black or dark brown color on the tips of the ears, and on their legs, mane and tail. They usually do not have a dorsal tripe. Buckskins are often confused with with dun horses. A buckskin, however, will not have the primitive markings that a dun has (zebra stripes on the legs). The buckskin color is derived from a bay gene that is diluted.

A roan is a horse that has white hairs mixed in with the colored hairs. Roans look like they have a light coating of snowflakes on them! The two most common types of roans are blue roans and red roans. A blue roan has a black coat with white hairs mixed in. A red or strawberry roan has a red coat (i.e. sorrel, chestnut) with white hairs mixed in. There can also be other types of roans, such as a bay roan. As long as the horse has white hairs mixed in with its base coat of colored hair, it is considered a roan. The roan horse's legs, head, mane, and tail, usually will not have any white hairs in them.

There are two characteristics to consider with the dun horse--color and primitive markings.

The dun horse color is similar to the buckskin. A dun horse ranges in color from beige to brown with the points of a bay horse (black or dark brown mane, tail, legs and tips of the ears). Sometimes the face of the dun looks like it is wearing a darker mask.

A dun will also have some 'primitive markings' which are zebra or cat like stripes (also called leg barring or zebra stripes). They may have striping on their legs, over their withers and/or behind the their ears.

A dun horse also has a dorsal stripe, which is a dark stripe running down the back. Sometime the dorsal stripe runs up the middle of the mane and down into the tail, like on a Fjord horse. Not all horses that have a dorsal stripe are duns.

Dun horses do not generally have dapples. In order to be considered a dun, the horse must have at least one dun parent.

The Appaloosa horse is known for it's spots and splashes of color on it's coat. The Appaloosa's base coat color is usually black, bay, chestnut, grey, or the colors of the palomino, dun, buckskin or roan. The skin of the Appaloosa is mottled, or spotted, on different parts of the body. Appaloosas usually have a white sclera (the area around the iris) in the eye. Sometimes it can be brown, hazel, or blue or the horse can have a different color in each eye. Appaloosa horses usually have stripes in their hooves.

There are different coat and color patterns that the Appaloosa horse exhibits.

A leopard pattern appears to have a white coat with colored spots, which can be of varying sizes, all over the horse.

The varnish roan has white hairs mixed in with a colored coat all over the body and also exhibits the characteristics of a roan.

A blanket pattern has a white area that extends over the hips and sometimes spill over onto the back. Colored Spots can be on top of the blanket as well.

A horse with the snowflake pattern has small white spots anywhere on the body.