Examples of appaloosa facial mottling


After posting the images of the mottled skin of the grey, I thought it might be interesting to post some appaloosas to show the range of mottling seen on their faces. Appaloosa mottling is something that tends to develop with age, but it is also something that varies a great deal from one individual appaloosa to the next.

This first picture is of one of my mare’s pasture mates, Freckles. She is a chestnut varnish roan with a blaze and one hind stocking, and is in her early teens. In the four years I have known her, her color has not changed in any significant way. Her unmarked feet are striped and the area under her tail is mottled, but she has almost no facial mottling.


The pink areas around her nostril and lips are from her blaze. The rest shows almost no mottling unless you pull her lips back.

This is my own mare Sprinkles. She’s a suppressed leopard, so she has a pattern as well as the varnish roan gene. Her color has been changing as she roans out, but overall the progress has been quite slow. She is eight years old in this picture.


She did not have much mottling on her mouth when I purchased her at three. She’s been getting more in the last few years, but it is mostly around the edges of her lips. Just how visible it is depends on how she is holding her mouth.


The mottling on the front edge of her muzzle visible in the first picture is actually the edge of her blaze. Like a lot of appaloosas – and greys – the mottling borders the part of her blaze the covers the front of her nose.  That was the first part of her muzzle to show mottling as a young horse.

This fellow is a snow cap blanket that has roaned out. He is most likely homozygous for the varnish roan gene. (Notice his mostly shell-colored hooves, which are typical of homozygous appaloosas.)


Homozygous appaloosas (fewspots and snowcaps) often have more pronounced mottling than heterozygous appaloosas. He certainly has more than either Sprinkles or Freckles.

If you look closely at the enlarged version of this photo, you might be able to make out star on his forehead and the pink mottled skin around it. He also shows the classic dark “V” across the nasal bones that many varnish roans have.

That is the tendency, but there are many heterozygous appaloosas that have extensive facial mottling. I have more examples, but I am going to make a separate post. A lot of readers get the blog by email subscription and with these large images I worry about stuffing someone’s inbox! (Subscribing to the blog is really convenient way to get all the posts, by the way, and can be done by clicking on the box to the right.)

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6 Responses to Examples of appaloosa facial mottling

  1. Shanti September 13, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    The last varnish appy looks very interesting! Do you have any close up shots of the shell colored hoofs? Just as reference pictures for repainting model horses….

  2. The Equine Tapestry September 13, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    I didn’t take any specific shots of his feet, mostly because he was never close enough. But I did take a lot of photos, all very high resolution. I’ll see if any have good detail on his front feet. (His hind feet aren’t useful as appaloosa references since they have white markings.)

  3. Rebecca Turner September 13, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    I have got to take more photos of my apply mare.. Im not sure what color she is.. as far as markings.. when I moved here 5 years ago she was solid plane chestnut.. no striking color just a bla chestnut color.. with a mane and tail kind of the same color.. the only white spots she had was one .. just one…about an inch big right at the top of where her tail meets her body.. she has a snip and some pink on her nose..and a white foot.. ok so…. she started to get some little white speckles after I got here and thats when I really noticed her hooves… and figure she was an apply…. starting that next year… she was then. so then every year she has been getting more white and now its grouping in larger areas and her color.. my god its so striking this year.. she has been getting darker! I have been meaning to take some new pics to show you but use is now the most beautiful shiny chocolate color and her knees are almost black.. and her mane is so light.. it has white, blondish and even a few black hairs in it.. and it really sticks out from her dark dark neck.. her mottling on her nose is more too.. more pink.. but I was just kind of shocked at how beautiful her color is this year…. no more bla chestnut.. no its just so…dark .. and like on her chest and the inside of her back legs above the hocks where her hair is white now she has creases in it that are dark.. its really pretty.. so I’ll get some pics .. I hope the sun comes out today but even if it doesn’t Ill get some.. she may not be as shiny but you can see the darkness oh her coat.. she was a red chestnut almost as red as the appy in the 1st pic.. not quite as red but almost….. I just hope i can get the pics of my crashed laptop because I do have pics of her every year I have been here to show the differences and I wanted to send them to you… its a big difference! so what form the discretion color do you think she is.. varnish or roan or snowflake? I thought she was a snowflake but the white is now grouping in large areas. like someone splashed paint at her is small groups… her chest is very white now… so Ill take some pics.. oh she has a star and thats larger now more roan around it.. ok dogs are barking.. time to go walk.. lol

  4. Rebecca Turner September 14, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    I posted pics of lucy on my face book page in the photos folder.. in a folder that says lucy… Im pretty sure were friends on fb so ck her out.. I think I had sent you pics of her when she was younger so you can see the changes.. but now i think maybe her darker color may be part of her winter coat..( which isn’t very heat yet.. she so far doesn’t look like she has one but then my morgan mare looks like dappled velvet right now.. as she is getting her winter coat pretty fast now) because I noticed I can’t see some of her white in the dark pics.. but.. she didn’t use to be dark like this at all in the winter..in fact she was lighter in chestnut than her regular color.. so weird.. is this common? Im still waiting for the sun to come out to get better pics and she looks so much darker in person but I just can’t get that on a cloudy day with the camera..

  5. The Equine Tapestry September 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    I will have to go check out the photos. Thank you for posting them!

    It seems like a lot of colors darken in the winter. My own mare is much, much darker in her winter coat. She has the bronzing that some appaloosas get, so she never looks truly black (although genetically she is), but she looks a lot closer to that when she’s wooly.

    My mare also started getting those white spots in the dark areas of her coat. At first it was just her neck and chest, but then she started getting them on her ears. It was the funniest thing to ride her and see new white polka dots all the time! More recently white dots started appearing on her legs, but they are darned hard to capture of film because the bronzing makes her lower legs a bit iridescent. I need to catch her in the shade for them to show up well.


  1. Homozygous appaloosas « The Equine Tapestry - September 27, 2011

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