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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7 Responses to Another mystery color

  1. Kristina Pry February 25, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    For the years I had my old gelding before I ever knew what a sabino was, I always called him a red roan and so did everyone else. I do suspect he is some sort of sabino but the white hairs in his coat are mixed fairly uniformly throughout. I know he is part TWH and we had always suspected the other half was App – because of the roaning and the extensive amount of chestnut spots he has in his white markings. All but one leg has white, though – and the hinds are definitely your typical above-the-hock jagged sabino. Still, the only sabinos I have seen with similar extensive roaning are the draft breeds that carry sabino. His blaze is fairly narrow and extends down to his bottom lip but does not wrap around. I looked and I don’t have many pictures that show all of his body or the white in detail very well, but I can send you what I have if you want to see him. During the winter months the roaning across his hips becomes more pronounced, almost like he has a blanket. His one solid leg has very few white hairs, as do the solid portions of the other 3 legs. And his face (other than the blaze) has very minimal white hairs as well.

  2. DKinsel February 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    Lesli, could this be similar to what D. Sponenberg refered to as “rount” in the second (?) edition of Horse Color? (Published about 1997 or 1998?) Quote: “Heavy ticking can create a form of sabino that is subject to fading or “roaning out.” (This is not part of the greying process.)”

    • The Equine Tapestry February 26, 2012 at 6:01 am #

      I will have to send him the pictures and ask. I suspect that the term was used for sabino roans of the more ordinary type, but it would be interesting to find out.

  3. kuewi February 28, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    Do you already know her pedigree? Or which color her ancesters had?

  4. Ann February 29, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    an odd thought hit me when I first saw the photo… looks just like the “cave painting” horses from France/Spain. Would be very interested if the mare was tested for any markers (app, sw1, etc) and if this could be an “old” form for roan/sabino.


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