The new full-color book is officially released


The blog has been quiet for far longer than I intended while I worked to get the most recent book to press. I would like to say that the above image of the orderly edits was really what my workspace looked like these last few months, but that is actually my first-line-of-defense editor (otherwise known as my husband) at work. This is what my work area looked like. Sad to say, that’s actually more tidy than my office library looked at the time.


But the book is now finished and available to purchase by clicking the link on the right. At the moment, that takes you to the paperback version. There is a hardcover version as well, but it is running a few days behind. Both versions will also be available through online booksellers (Amazon and Barnes and Nobles) as well, though it normally takes a few days for a new book to be added to their sites. (Taming the explosion of paper across my house is still a work in progress…)

As the sample page below shows, this time around the book is in full color. That was not possible with Print-On-Demand (POD) when I published my first book in 2012. For that reason, a lot of compromises had to be made when presenting material in that first book, because obviously some ideas just would not translate without color photos. When affordable color printing came online last year, I began working on a revised edition of the front portion of the first book. Those that have Volume I: Draft and Coaching Breeds know that the book is divided into two parts: a section that explains the colors themselves and a section that is about the colors found in the specific breeds. Because color images were more important to that first section, I originally envisioned this current book as a color supplement to the series, with updates on the research that had occurred since it was first published. However, the temptation to expand the original text was irresistible. I had come across so many interesting things in the years since, particularly regarding colors and patterns that were only mentioned in passing in the original. And then there were the many people who offered wonderful photos of rare colors. By the time it was all done, very little of the original was left.


So rather than a supplement, it would be more accurate to say the new book is both a stand-alone text on horse color, and the opening book for the Equine Tapestry series. I will be releasing Volume I in full color, and I will finish out the remainder of the series in full color. The new Volume I will contain the Draft and Coaching Breeds, as before, as well as the two groups of breeds that were dropped when the first book became too large. Those were the Light Draft Breeds and the Harness Racing Breeds. So the new order of the series (all full color) will be the Introduction, then Volumes I through IV.

Here is the cover for the Introduction, which is the book that is currently available.


These are the tentative covers for Volume I (Draft and Coaching Breeds) and Volume II (Ponies and Small Horses). It is my hope to have the replacement Volume I go to press by early 2015.


Because it will eventually be replaced by the new Introduction and Volume I, the black-and-white book (published in 2012) will go out of print in the next month or so. It is likely that some of the material in the older book will not be included in the new books, particularly some of the historical photos. The printing process used for the full-color books (and especially for the hardcover versions) requires a higher-quality image, and some of the older photos will not translate well. I may also have to drop some of the extinct breeds like the Nivernais if space becomes an issue, so the old and new Volume I books may not have the exact same material.

Hopefully I have not managed to make this too confusing. I am still in the process of adding a shopping cart to this site so that books can be ordered directly, but as soon as that is done this blog should return to its more active state. I also have to apologize for the tremendous backlog of comments which need approvals or replies. My email inbox is, quite sadly, even more neglected. Because sustained focus is not exactly my strong suit, I have yet to find a way to write without restricting my attention to book work so everything else is woefully behind. I will likely be playing catch-up for a while, but I promise I will respond – if rather belatedly – to everyone.

And finally I want to thank all the readers that contributed to the current book. Whether it was in the form of questions, or shared insights, or rare photos, readers here helped make the new book better than it might have been had I done it all alone. Because I truly hate to impose on others, I find it hard at times to reach out and ask for assistance. The help that so many offered at the various stages of this project has made me all the more determined to overcome that tendency in the future.

Continue Reading

An important correction

CarrouselRoi1662 copy
Louis XIV as the Roman Emperor in the Carrousel du Roi, by Israel Silvestre the Younger, c.1662. The depiction of his mount, and a similar one for the Duke d’Anguein, suggest that the silver dilution might once have been present in the Spanish horse population. 

A few years ago, I reported that a Pura Raza Espanola (PRE) mare has tested positive for silver. This was significant since a previous case of what appeared to be a bay silver stallion had been called into question, regarding both a reported test and registration status. Unlike the stallion, the mare in question was not visibly silver – she was chestnut – but was said to be a carrier. Unfortunately, she has since proven to be negative for the dilution. It appears that while the owners used standard testing notation, what they were doing was what the dog geneticist, Sheila Schmutz, refers to as “guessotyping“. More often when people guess the color of a horse, they use the name of the color. This is especially true when a new and interesting color with an appealing name (champagne, pearl) comes to light. Most of the time there are other clues that the owner is guessing, though that was not true with this particular case, where the particulars were a little unusual.  With the proliferation of websites and forums dedicated to the discussion of horse color, and the more widespread use of testing notations in the descriptions of horses,  this is likely to be an increasingly common problem going forward.

From the standpoint of this blog, I have tried to keep a balance between verifying information and being unnecessarily antagonistic with owners and breeders. In the past, owners of horses with unexpected colors or test results have encountered very aggressive – and at times outright rude – questioning from color enthusiasts. What is often lost in these exchanges is an awareness that breeders do not owe enthusiasts copies of test results. Certainly a potential buyer, or a mare owner interested in breeding to a stallion, have every right to ask to see results if the true color of a horse is in question. But what we are often asking is that someone satisfy our curiosity. Owners and breeders are a valuable resource for anyone interested in horse color. Unlike the situation with the model animal for coat color, the mouse, it is not feasible to breed large, expensive animals as part of a research program. Breeders are doing the work, and paying the bills, for that. What’s more, they are in a unique position to observe nuances of color that people less directly involved with the individual animals might miss. Maintaining a positive atmosphere encourages an open exchange of information, and reduces the chance that someone with a unique horse feels burned by the research community.

That said, it is clear that testing notations cannot be assumed to represent an actual test. As much as it would be a good idea if people did not use them without test results in hand, because they are more widely understood than in the past, the temptation to use them as shorthand for a guessotype is there.

Continue Reading

Reminder – deadline for W20 samples


I wanted to post a quick reminder that the deadline for having your horse included in the upcoming W20 study is this Tuesday, April 15, 2014. As mentioned in the previous post, the W20 mutation is one of the newly identified White-spotting (W) patterns. The majority of these patterns have been new mutations that originated in specific families of horses within the last few decades. The W20 mutation is different in that it has been found in a number of unrelated breeds (a current list can be found here), which suggests that the pattern is old. That means it may be widespread in the equine population.

Unlike the other patterns in the W series, this one does not put a lot of white on the horse – at least not unless it is paired with another pattern. The exact range of expression is not known, however, nor is it clear how it interacts with some of the other forms of white patterning. To better understand that, one of the research groups in Germany is offering the W20 test for a brief time. The idea is to both collect a range of samples and raise the funds necessary to do the work. (Horses, unfortunately, do not tend to attract third party research grants, so the biggest impediment to progress is lack of funding.)


Dr. Rony Jude, one of the scientists involved in this project, has indicated that the horses submitted need not be pintos, or even have obviously flashy markings. Horses like the two included in this post would be helpful. I have submitted my own Appaloosa mare, who has only a moderate blaze and a white hind pastern. Groups of related horses are also helpful. Other good candidates are horses that have known, tested patterns but that have more white than might be expected.

The (English-language) form needed to have your horse included is located here. Owners in the United States will need to send their samples in now in order to meet the deadline. For those that have not done genetic testing before, collecting samples involves pulling 30 tail hairs (the root bulb must be visible). For this study, each horse needs two samples: two ziplock bags of 30 hairs. I would also recommend sending the materials in a padded envelope – not a package – to avoid delays in customs. The form indicates that you need to submit three photos (both sides and a face shot showing markings) and a pedigree. Pedigrees are useful for finding possible sources for the mutation, but they are not required for inclusion in the study; you can submit unregistered horses. Dr. Jude has also set up a PayPal account ( for participants in the United States, where foreign bank transfers tend to be costly. The necessary photos and the form can also be sent to that address, which is a good idea since we are so close to the deadline.

I hope that Dr. Jude and her team get a good turnout for the study. With luck, W20 could prove to be one of the bigger pieces of the puzzle when it comes to understanding how white markings and white patterns work in horses.


Continue Reading