Archive | February, 2012

Another mystery color


This five year-old Saddlebred mare was recently listed on Craigslist, and her owner has allowed me to use her photos here. Longtime readers of the blog might remember the unusual greys that were discussed here (“Ponies Don’t Read”) and here (“Another Unusual Grey”). When I saw those horses, they reminded me of some a handful of unusual roaned Morgans that I had seen, though they were definitely not greys. This mare, however, is a lot more like the Morgans. You can see their pictures on the Morgan Colors site. The one most like this mare can be seen here:
Sleepys Select Rose
Sleepys Select Rose (winter coat)

I have seen a handful of other horses a bit like this one, all with roaning on the body that tends towards dappling or reverse dappling, dark legs and white on the face. I’ve tended to categorize them as some kind of odd sabino roan, simply because right now just about anything that produces roaning and white markings gets lumped into that category. Of the existing categories, it was the closest match. But it is much more likely that what we call “sabino” is a lot of different things. What seems to be true of horses like this mare is that they are usually connected – when their backgrounds can be determined, at least – to sabino roan families of a certain visual type. Those are horses that look quite a lot like true roans, only they are more uniformly roaned over their entire body. They usually have dark legs and some white on the front of the face, rather than the wrap-around blaze typical of ‘flashy white’ sabinos.

I have inquired about this particular mare’s background, to see if there are similar connections, and will post any information I receive. In the meantime, if readers have horses with extensive roaning and white on the face but not the legs, but that are not true, dark-headed roans, I would love to see them.

UPDATE: The mare’s name is Wing’s Sable Sky. Her owner is in the process of getting larger pictures taken, so hopefully I can share those in the near future.

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Utilizing Pinterest for color samples



I am a big believer in the benefit of grouping images of horses of a specific color or pattern as a way to develop a solid mental image of the different colors. For those of us that paint horses, it is the single best way to develop your eye. Back before there were many horse sites on the internet, I kept clipping files. The down side was that my ability to collect images outpaced my ability to clip them from magazines and sort them into scrapbooks. I still have boxes of unsorted images from that time! With the computer, it was much easier to sort images into folders and I assembled hundreds of thousands of references.

What I have not been able to do is share them. As anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows, I am a stickler for intellectual property rights. I stick with pictures that I have taken, that are in the public domain, or that I have been given specific permission to use. I would love to share my sorted images, but I do not own most of them. Keeping a library of images for personal reference is quite different from posting those same images on a public website. Which brings me to Pinterest.

Pinterest has been described as a virtual corkboard, but really it is a social media site for the sharing of links. The site allows users to assemble groupings of links by topic, and then uses a thumbnail as a visual for that link. Most people use it to share images of products and ideas that they like. For me, I saw it as a great way to put together some color sorting files that linked directly to the source (ie., the owner or farm that had the horse), while still giving an overview of the range in a particular color or pattern. The image above comes from a board I started with images of homozygous tobianos. What I was specifically interested in was the range of face markings, because I had noted that even in breeds not inclined to face markings, the homozygous horses often had a fairly high level of white on the face. Looking at a lot of them, from a lot of breeds, might be helpful to see any trends. I also have a board for tested SW1 splashes, tested Sb1 sabinos, and the Bald Eagle line that has tested negative for splash. Eventually I hope to add more boards for other colors and characteristics, because I think this might be a particularly good way to share visual information.

For those that are not currently using Pinterest, here is a good overview of how the site works. You’ll notice that you do have to request an invite, since the service is actually still in Beta mode. This can take a few days, in my experience.

(Oh, and I must apologize that I have not found a way to separate out my personal Pinterest boards from the horse color ones. So beware that there are boards for recipes and craft ideas and pretty artwork all completely unrelated to the topic at hand!)

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More Splashed White Surprises


More information keeps coming in from the new Splashed White tests being offered by UC Davis. Horses that have tested positive for the second version of the splash mutation (SW2) have been identified. Only a few have been made public,  but links to those have been added to the Splashed White Project page. So far the positive results have been consistent with the rumor that the SW2 mutation is present in the Gunner line of Paint Horses.

For many, the biggest surprises with the new tests have been how many horses have tested negative. I had suspected that might happen, because I knew that blue eyes were not a reliable indicator that a horse could or would produce the classic pattern. Finding horses without the classic pattern testing negative was something I expected. What I didn’t expect at all was to find horses that tested negative with the classic pattern. And now that is exactly what has happened.

Those that have read Jeanette Gower’s book Horse Color Explained may remember the Australian splash line of Bald Eagle. Several horses from this family are pictured in the book, and more can be seen at the Dunsplashin Stud website. They have classic splash patterns, but so far they have all tested negative for all three genes. What is even more interesting is that, speaking to breeders, it is clear that this particular family show this pattern with just one copy of their gene. Unlike the SW1 mutation, which presents as a classic pattern when it is homozygous, the Bald Eagle horses have the classic pattern – and produce it – with only one gene. One breeder stated that it was thought that the color was homozygous lethal, which is what is thought to be true of SW2 and SW3.

With each new pattern test, it becomes more clear that there are a lot more pattern mutations that previously understood. Because the Bald Eagle line is a sizable family, it seems likely that their mutation – which may be unique to them – will be identified in time. But the discovery that they look so much like the SW1 horses, yet have some other mutation, is another sign that we probably have a lot more patterns than was previously thought, and a lot of them probably look a lot alike.

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