The Various Types of Horse Colours

Horses come in all shapes, sizes, colours and shades. It can be difficult to differentiate two different colours between similar horses, but fortunately there is a system in place to help those with little experience.


A bay is any reddish, brown or dark brown colour, as long as there are black spots. It is possible to confuse a very dark bay with black. Search for red undertones and black spots on the body.


A black horse has a black coat with black dots. Most black horses ‘ skin is white. A black skin black is called a real black skin. The Sun can burn reddish colours in a black coat occasionally.


The colour of the chestnut is essentially red. It can differ between light and dark. They don’t have blotches. A liver chestnut is a much darker chestnut. Notice that for a brown, if not for the reddish mane and tail, the liver chestnut could be confused.


A brown horse is brown and has no black sports anywhere. The colour can be seen more of a chocolate rather than reddish. Brown horses can often be darker, and it’s not uncommon to mistake them for a black horse. Thoroughbred horses are often brown, such as the ones that run the races for Crown Oaks betting.


The palomino is more of a golden colour with a white mane and tail. This is considered a colour breed, meaning that they can be registered with the Palomino breed association if they meet all the necessary requirements.


Despite being commonly referred to as a Dun, the two actually have some subtle differences. Bucksin tend to be on the yellowish grey side, while a Dun generally has more red in its coat. To spot the difference between a Dun and a bay horse, the Dun will have a dorsal stripe accompanied by extra stripes on the legs.


Breeds with the cream colour get their hue from a special cream gene. The gene dilutes the base colours bay, black, and chestnut. When the gene is found in a palomino or buckskin, the offspring is usually of a lighter colour.


A horse that is truly white is extremely rare as most white horses are actually a light grey. Grey horses tend to become lighter as they grow older, and will often be darker at birth. The grey coat consists of white hairs, along with hairs that have some colour in them. Grey can be both light and dark.


The grullo gets its colour from a Dun overlay on a black horse. The hairs are considered mousy colours, and they always have dark points. They can also have a dorsal stripe, along with zebra stripes on their legs, and a darker facemask.


The appaloosa is a speckled or spotted horse that often comes with roaning. It is both the breed and the colour of the horse, and it’s possible to spot them through their mottled skin, striped hooves, and white sclera.

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