Horses are amazing creatures. They are majestic, heart-warming, and, just like shoes, horses come in many colors. Horse coat colors are dependent upon genetics, just as our hair and eye colors are. Red, bay and black are the three base colors that horse colors stem from, but what are the most common colors? Continue reading to find out.
Since bay is a base color, it is no doubt that it is one of the most common coat colors. Bay horses have black points, meaning their mane and tail is black, the rims around their ears are black, and their muzzle and legs are usually black.
The chestnut color stems from the red base color. For a horse to be considered chestnut, the mane and tail must be the same color as the horse’s coat color. A chestnut horse has no black points but can be more of a darker red, or liver chestnut.
A sorrel horse should not be confused with a chestnut horse. Although similar, a sorrel horse is lighter than chestnut and the mane and tail of a sorrel horse is lighter than the horse’s coat color. It can even be flaxen or blonde.
Another base color but harder to classify, a true black horse has no red hues to the coat color. The mane and tail are black, and they have no white areas on the coat.
The palomino horse color stands out in the crowd. The coat color is like a cream and the mane and tail are white. This color comes from the red base color, but the horse has an expressive cream dilution mutation in their genetics, resulting in a beautiful color.
Buckskin is another flashy color with a golden coat and black points. This color is also produced in the same manner as a palomino except for the base color being bay instead of red.
Although not as common, the dun horse color is just as beautiful but unique. True dun-colored horses have a black dorsal stripe, and some have black zebra stripes down their legs. This genetic mutation can affect all base colors and the dun hue color is dependent upon the base color.
Roan horses are unique as their coat is. They have a base color and white hairs scattered throughout the coat. Roan horses have their own colors coming from the three base colors; strawberry or red roan, bay roan, and blue roan – coming from the black base color.
A pinto coat color does not mean that a horse is a Paint. A Paint is a specific breed of horse, a pinto color can affect any breed. This color is basically a horse with a base color with white patches scattered throughout the coat.
All horse colors are beautiful, unique, and come in so many variations and patterns. If only we could have one of each! What's your favorite coat color? Let us know in the comments below!
About the Author
Horse Courses by Elaine Heney
- Listening to the Horse - The Documentary by Elaine Heney & Grey Pony Films
- Shoulder In & Out Training for better balance, bend & topline development with your horse
- Over 110+ Polework Exercises & Challenges to Download
- Dancing at Liberty & Creating Connection with Your Horse (11 lessons) - Grey Pony Films
Dani Buckley is a small-town resident in Montana. She is a veterinary technician manager and mom of eight four-legged kids – 5 dogs, 1 cat, and 2 horses. When she moved back home to Montana, her horses and her dogs moved with her (Carbon and Milo). The pack grew by three when she moved in with her boyfriend, Cody. Altogether there is a German Shepard (Lupay), a Border Collie (Missy), a Blue Heeler (Taz) and her two adorable mutts.
Her horses are her free time passion – Squaw and Tulsa. Dani has owned Squaw for 17 years and this mare has made 2 trips across the country with Dani! Squaw is a retired rodeo and cow horse. Her other mare, Tulsa, is an upcoming ranch horse. The girls have an unmatched personality and bond with Dani. She has been around horses her entire life and rodeoed throughout highschool and beyond. Now, she enjoys riding on the ranch, working cattle and trail riding.