Horse Genetics
Understanding Coat Genetics PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tina Stewart   
Friday, 14 November 2008 17:25

There is much to be said about a gorgeous golden palomino galloping across the countryside, ivory mane and tail flowing in the wind. The sun glistening on its coat and reflecting the rays of light in a dance of shimmering light. This is only the romanticized pheonetic description of something that's genetically slightly more complicated and less beautiful.

There are two types of descriptions we'll give horses in this series of articles: Phenotype and Genotype

The first is phenotype. This is the outward appearance of the horse to the human eye. This describes the color of the horse, the phenetic desctription of the horse as we see it. As an example of the word used in a sentence: "The horse is phenetically a brown."

The second is genotype. This is how the horse is genetically programmed. This is the genetics behind the horse and determines what the horse is capable of passing to the offspring. Just because a horse is one color doesn't necessarily mean that horse will always produce its color. In reference to a horse that phenetically appears brown: "The horse is genetically a smokey black (black horse that carries the creme gene)."

One thing that we have to remember is that all horses carry a base coat of either black (E) or red (e). There is nothing in between! What makes the horse colors vary so much are the dilutions or modifiers that sit on top of the base coat.

Here is a list of the modifiers. They don't necessarily change the color, but instead modify the existing color pattern slightly or restrict the color to certain areas of the horse:

  • Bay (agouti)
  • Grey
  • Flaxen
  • Sooty
  • Mealy 

Here is a list of the dilutions. These actually change the base coat appearance:

  • Creme
  • Dun
  • Champagne
  • Silver

On top of the modifiers and creme dilutions we also have paint color patterns, appaloosa color patterns, and other white color modifications.

  • Appaloosa
  • Roan
  • Rabicano
  • Frame Overo
  • Sabino Overo
  • Splashed Overo
  • Tobiano

You know what your horse looks like, but you just aren't sure what color they are genetically, you may want to have them tested at either Animal Genetics, Inc.

Animal Genetics has a really neat color coat calculator that may help you determine what the resulting offspring would be between a stallion and a mare.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 November 2008 18:07

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