Archive | September, 2011

Recommendations: Three books and one gadget

Left to right: Pferde aus Licht und Shatten, Die Farben der Pferde and Farben und Farbvererbung Pferd

When I was in school, I took the foreign language recommended for students with an interest in science: Latin. In hindsight, I wish I had taken German. That’s because some of the most comprehensive books on horse color published in the last few years have been in German. They might not be especially useful to American readers, but we have a surprising number of foreign subscribers that might find them useful.

Die Farben der Pferde
(pictured above)
by Dr. Monika Reißmann
€49,90 order here

I just received this book a week ago, on a recommendation from Thomas Armbruster, author of a three-volume set of books on the Black Forest Horse. I had high hopes for it, since it was by one of the authors of “Coat Colors at the Beginning of Horse Domestication” – easily one of the most fascinating papers on horse color to come out in recent years. Although I have just begun to translate the book, already I can say I am not disappointed. The book covers not only the latest on recently discovered colors, but also many of the quirky aspects of horse coloring that have not been the focus of formal studies. The whole book is lavishly illustrated in full color, and is particularly rich in detail shots.

Farben und Farbvererbung beim Pferd
by Henriette Arriens
€26,50 order here

I had been anxiously awaiting this book since I first heard that Henriette was working on it. There are few researchers I whose observations and conclusions I would trust more thoroughly. It is in many ways a more technical book than the previous one, but still written in a more accessible style. It is primarily a black-and-white book with lovely illustrations and diagrams. (When it arrived I was thrilled to see that I wasn’t the only one who thought a lot of information about color could still be conveyed without color.) It does have color plates in the back, though, and they are all stunning photos by Irene Hohe. There is also a second version that primarily concerns the Icelandic.

Pferde aus Licht und Schatten
by Ursula Schmidt-Basler
out-of-print, but available second hand ~€6,00 – 8,00
copies can be found here

This is an older book, and I believe it is no longer in print, but I had no trouble finding (quite reasonable!) copies. It is not a book about color so much as it is a book about colored horses, most specifically pinto and appaloosa horses in Europe. It is full of fascinating information on the history of some of the colored lines in European warmbloods, particularly those that came from Dr. Lehmann’s Mathildenhoh Stud. There are wonderful rare photos his tobiano Lipizzan and his warmblood Bars, who went on to give the appaloosa coloring to the Polish warmblood breeds. There are color photos, but many of the historical photos are black and white.

And finally, a gadget! I don’t recommend those often because unlike the rest of my family I simply lack the “gadget gene”. This one, however, is worthwhile.


This is the (somewhat foolish-sounding) Magic Wand scanner. I originally purchased it to take with me to the National Sporting Library. I wasn’t sure if I could set up my laptop and scanner, and the wand works as a stand-alone product. It uses ordinary AA batteries and stores scans on a micro SD card. It was really useful for that purpose. Not only is it a lot easier to carry around, but in most cases it can scan a lot faster than a flatbed scanner.

But it has gotten a lot more work as a translating tool. It can scan pages of text which are then read by OCR software and fed into Google Translate. It isn’t perfect and it takes a bit of time, but it does make books like these accessible.

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Appaloosa puzzler


This is Jag, my appaloosa puzzler. I mentioned Jag and what makes him unusual in one of the earliest posts on this blog. That’s because there are aspects of Jag’s pattern that say he is heterozygous for the varnish roan gene. His blanket is most definitely spotted.


And yet his feet, which have no white markings whatsoever, are predominantly shell-colored.


They were recently trimmed in this shot, which is why they are so bright. Here they are a few weeks later. The dark area on the left hind (furthest right in the picture), is not visible in the shot above, since he’s facing the other direction. That one area is a bit darker and more striped, but otherwise the hooves look more like the shell hooves of a homozygous horse.

He also has mottling on his muzzle that I think of as being more typical of homozygous horses – but only one one side!


See how pink and freckled with black the one side is, while the other has the webbing of pink on a dark background? In fact, that area that looks so pink is even roaning out really fast, while the rest of his face – indeed, almost his whole body – shows almost no varnish roaning. The patch of varnish roan can be seen in the picture with his newly trimmed hooves.

Here is a close up of that side, which shows the white hairs along that part of his face really well. (I am sorry to say I didn’t think to take a contrasting picture of his “normal” side!)


Here if a face shot that shows his roan patch pretty well. The only other area he is showing any significant roaning is his tail, which – like the patch on his face – is silvering quite rapidly.

Jag also has mottling around his eyes, though it is not very pronounced. He has a partial blue eye on the right side, too.


Jag is a puzzle to me. I am looking forward to the release of the leopard complex test, because I’d love to test him to see if he is truly heterozygous (as his spots suggest).

Update: Jag was tested when the Leopard Complex test was released, and is heterozygous for Lp. He was also tested for the first three splash genes and frame overo, and all were negative.

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Homozygous appaloosas


I had a few more detail shots of Colt, my friend Marge’s elderly few spot gelding who was used in yesterday’s post.

As I mentioned in an earlier post about mottling, homozygous appaloosas like Colt often have more pronounced face mottling. Here are some pictures of his muzzle.


In my experience, homozygous appaloosas seem more likely to have this kind of mottling, where it looks like areas of pink skin with an overlay of small, dark spots.

They also seem more likely to have mottling around the eyes. (Although it is not something that changes the look of the eyes, homozygous appaloosas are also night blind.)


Here is the muzzle of the snowcap appaloosa from this previous post. (His nose is a little dirt from wuffling the ground, so his nose doesn’t look as pink.)


He has less pronounced mottling around his eyes, but he does have it.


Here is another body shot of him. Notice how light his front hooves are, even though those legs are solid (and black-pigmented).  Also note how very white his hindquarters are. That is one way to know he is not a false snowcap, because the real ones often have underlying pink skin that give them that really, really white look.


If you look closely at the lower legs on this fellow, you can also see that he has the bronzing effect that someone mentioned in the comments section of yesterday’s post. He is a bay horse. See how red the upper part of that leg looks, and the difference in tone at the knee? But when you get down to the hoof, the ankles are a silvery buff. That’s one of the other things that the leopard complex gene can do, though it doesn’t seem to do it all the time. I hope to make a longer post about it in the future, but I’d like to gather more photos for it if I can. (If you have photos of appaloosas that you have taken that show an oddy, hard-to-categorize base color, that you don’t mind appearing on the blog, feel free to send them. Just click on the sabino illustration to the right, and it will give you the contact information.)

Before I do that, though, I have a puzzler of an appaloosa that I will post tomorrow.

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