Minimal varnish roan

Thumper, the Miniature Horse from yesterday’s post, is a good jumping off point to talk about appaloosa patterns. When the topic came up a few days ago, I though it might be a good idea to run another portion of the old Realistic Equine Sculpture Society (RESS) articles. Appaloosa patterns have been the subject of a lot of fascinating research in the last few years, so we know more about the patterns than ever before.

Before I jump into that, though, I wanted to share a bit about Thumper. He lives at the barn where I board my own appaloosa pony, Sprinkles. Unlike Sprinkles, though, Thumper is not obviously an appaloosa. In fact, when he arrived at the barn a few years ago, I assumed he was an ordinary roan. Well, maybe not ordinary in the sense of having a grayish body and a stark, dark head and points. A lot of roans don’t actually look like that. What he looked like was the frosty variety of roan, where the white hairs concentrate on the topline and include the mane and tail.

That is what I thought until one day, being a typical naughty pony, he tried to take a little nibble.

You can’t actually see the mottling on his mouth when it is closed.

I knew what he really was then, and a check of his feet confirmed it. Usually they are too dirty to see the stripes, but here they are newly trimmed (and rinsed off) so they are quite visible.

These pictures were actually taken a year after his attempt to nom my hand – so around five years old – and the sprinkling of white hairs that were previously visible on the bridge of his nose had expanded to include much of his face.

I suspect those that have seen a lot of minimal varnish roans might recognize him for what he is in these pictures. Most horsemen who see him at the farm, though, assume he is a roan. That’s why in the past, horses like Thumper have found their way into registries that didn’t technically allow appaloosas. People just didn’t know what they were.

Here is Thumper a few years later, having roaned out a little more.


4 Responses to Minimal varnish roan

  1. Kristin Berkery September 3, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    What a cute guy. 🙂 Those Appies can keep you guessing!

    • Kristin Berkery September 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

      (Actually, I should have spelled it “appies.”)

  2. The Equine Tapestry September 3, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    Hi Kristin!

    He is cute, isn’t he. He’s not much taller than my dog, though he’s certainly more feisty!

    I can’t promise that I always remember the whole appy/Appy thing. I do try to only use capitalize it for the breed, but half the time I think I just end up randomly capitalizing it. I do wish we had a generic name for the group of patterns that did not overlap one of the breeds with them. The British call the “spotteds”, but of course over here we think that means pinto.


  1. More appaloosa face mottling « The Equine Tapestry - September 15, 2011

    […] To find any mottling at all, his lips have to be pulled back much like I did with the pony Thumper. Looking at this guy and at Freckles, it might be temping to assume that varnish roan appaloosas, […]