17 Jul 2011

Color Modifiers

Grey Horse Modifier

Grey Horse
The greying gene is found in all breeds of horses and has the ability to mask all other colors, including pinto and appaloosa white patterns.
Grey horses are unique because they are born dark, with either black or chestnutbase and slowly “grey out” with every shedding. All horses affected by the grey modifier grey out, no matter what color they are born.

About the Grey Modifier

  • Dominant gene
  • Modifier that depigmentates colored hairs as the horse ages
  • Skin may also depigmentate which causes mottling
  • Greying varies between horses and breeds
  • First signs of greying are usually around the eyes
  • All gray horses grey out no matter what color they began

Different Greying Stages

Every grey horse will go through all of the below stages at some point in their life. Greying varies between horses and breeds.
Steel / Iron Greying Stage
Iron Grey Horse
  • First stage of greying process
  • Face tends to lighten first
  • Can have a bluish tint
  • Often mistaken for grullo
Dapple Greying Stage
Dapple Grey Horse
  • Second stage of greying process
  • Most commonly expect when they think of grey horses
  • Occurs during ages of 4-12 & vary by speed of greying and age
White Greying Stage
White Grey Horse
  • The third stage of the greying process
  • Horses who have finished greying out
  • All pigment in hair is gone
Fleabitten Greying Stage
Fleabitten Grey Horse
Image from Montanabw
  • Last stage of the greying process
  • Horses have small red or black spots all over their body hairs
  • Sometimes they start as they horse begins to grey out and others sprout up after greying process is complete
Rose Grey
Rose Grey Horse
  • Horses that have a bay or chestnut base coat
  • As horses grey out they have a rosy tint to their coat

Bay Color Modifier

Bay Horse
Perhaps one of the most well known horse colors, the bay comes in a variety of different shades and can be identified by their black points (mane, tail and legs).
A bay horse is an animal with a black base affected by the Agouti gene which controls the distribution of black hair to points and topline. This gene only affects a black base because chestnut hides the Agouti gene.

Bay Modifier

  • A dominant color
  • Common in all breeds
  • Red body ranging from light to dark with black points
  • Wild bay is a rare subtype with black legs that only extend up to pastern or fetlock

Different Bay Shades

There are a variety of different bay colors and they fall under these general categories.
Black Bay
Black Bay Horse
Image from Rror
Mahagony Bay
Mahogany Bay Horse
Image from Shagya France
Blood Bay
Blood Bay Horse
Standard Bay
Standard Bay Horse
Image from Reynaldo
Light Bay
Light Bay Horse

Bay Dilutions

A bay base can be affected by all of the dilution genes & display a brilliant rainbow of colors as a result. Here are a few examples.
Bay or Zebra Dun
Bay Dun Horse
Bay horse with a dun modifying gene
Image from Podargus
Buckskin Horse
Bay horse with a cream modifying gene
Image from Rozpravka
Perlino Horse
Bay horse with a double dose of the cream modifying gene
Image from Arsdelicata
Amber Champagne
Amber Champagne Horse
Bay horse with a champagne modifying gene
Image from Kersti_Nebelsiek
Silver Bay
Silver Bay Horse
Bay horse with a silver modifying gene
Image from Philipendula

Bay Modifications

The bay color itself is a modifying gene, however the color can be affected by two of the other modifications as well (mealy & sooty). Here are examples.
Mealy / Pangare
Mealy Bay Horse
Image from me’nthedogs
Sooty / Smutty
Sooty Bay Horse
Image from selenas_stock

White Patterns

Bay animals can be affected by all white patterns and the bay coloring actually creates more colorful spotted animals (think tri-colored pintos).
Bay Appaloosa Horse
Bay horse with a appaloosa white pattern
Image from equessaquagrl
Skewbald Pinto / Paint
Bay Pinto / Paint Horse
Bay horse with a paint / pinto white pattern
Image from Borsi112
Bay Roan
Bay Roan Horse
Bay horse with a roan white pattern

Mealy / Pangare Modifier

Mealy Horse
Image from GerardM
This color modifier is common in all breeds is expressed by a lightening of the animals soft spots, generally the muzzle, belly, flank, elbow and eyes. This gene is also often found in mules and burros, and easily identified by a characteristic lightened muzzle.

Mealy Modifier

The picture below is a fine comparison of two similar colored horses, one with the Pangare gene and one without.
Mealy vs. Non-Mealy
Mealy vs. Non-Mealy Horse
Image from Deivis

Mealy Colors

The mealy gene can be displayed on all of the base colors and the bay modifier. Here are some obvious examples.
Chestnut Mealy
Chestnut Mealy / Pangare Horse
Mealy gene displayed on a chestnut base
Black Mealy
Black Mealy / Pangare Horse
Mealy gene displayed on a black base
Bay Mealy
Mealy Bay Horse
Mealy gene displayed on a bay horse
Image from me’nthedogs

Sooty / Smutty Color Modifier

Sooty / Smutty Horse
Image from Tocekas
Thought to be a form of natural camouflage, the sooty or smutty gene causes black hairs to grow mixed into the body coat (generally along the topline & points). This often results in dappling and in rarer cases brindle striping.

Sooty / Smutty Modifier

Can be a seasonal effect as some buckskins who display darker striping and shading along their topline during certain times of the year. Experts don’t know if this is related to the primitive striping found in duns, although buckskins who display it can be mistakenly identified as dun.
  • Darkens color in specific areas
  • Can cause dapples
  • Can cause individual black hairs
  • Generally causes a darker shade on the topline
  • Can darken uniformly
  • Also called countershading or coloring

Smutty Colors

This coloring can be found on both black & chestnut bases (that includes bays). Although darkening of the coat only has a visible affect on variations of bay & chestnut animals.

Basic Genetics

The presence of black hairs on a chestnut based animal poses a contradiction, as the ‘ee’ gene blocks production of black hairs. It is thought that the sooty gene cancels out the black pigment blocking properties of ‘ee’ animals. This is largely believed because even palominos (also affected by a creme dilution gene) can also grow black colored hairs that are not diluted by the cream gene.
Although the cause of this coloring and how it’s passed on genetically is unknown it’s passed on readily enough to be dominant to some degree.
Sooty Bay
Sooty Bay Horse
Sooty gene displayed on a bay horse
Image from Martin_Bahmann
Sooty Palomino (Chestnut)
Sooty / Smutty Horse
Sooty gene displayed on a chestnut base (with a creme modifier)
Image from Just chaos
Sooty Buckskin (Chestnut)
Sooty Buckskin Horse
Sooty gene displayed on a bay horse (with a creme modifier)
Image from Rozpravka

Flaxen Color Modifier

Flaxen Horse
Image from Mihai Bojin
The flaxen modifier only affects mane and tail color in chestnut based horses. This gene displays in a white to cream colored mane and tail with a reddish body coat, and does not always affect the mane and tail to the same degree.
Not much is understood about this modifier, although it is thought to be a recessive gene, and it is often mistaken for a silver dapple.
Flaxen Rainbow
Flaxen Horse
Image from Kersti_Nebelsiek
Flaxen Horse
Image from July
Flaxen Horse
Image from CommonismNow
Flaxen Horse
Image from The_Gut

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