Archive | August, 2012

Reverse dapple roaning

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Earlier this year I posted about an unusual Saddlebred mare offered for sale on Craigslist. That mare, Wing’s Sable Sky, generated more interest than almost any other horse posted here on the blog. Since then Dee Dee Murry has taken some professional shots of what I believe is the same mare. This picture shows the odd reversed roaning even more clearly.

I also received a note from a Julia Bahr about her Missouri Foxtrotter mare Rex’s New Taste of Dallas. As you can see from this picture, Dallas has the same kind of reversed roaning as Sable Sky.

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There isn’t as much contrast on Dallas as there is on the Saddlebred mare because of her pale base color, but the arrangement of the roaning is remarkably similar. Notice the very pale ears on the Saddlebred, which are also pale on Dallas. There is also a concentration of mottled roaning on the face.

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Notice how there is a dark line of color on what are otherwise nearly white ears. In some ways this is like a reverse of the kind of pale spider lines seen on some dapple greys.

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That same reversed veining is visible on her stifle, too.



Dallas is just two years old in these pictures. As a foal, she did not look particularly different from any other palomino tobiano, but Julia said that when she began to shed the edge of her blaze became less distinct and she began to develop snowflakes on her face. Now her body coat has begun to dapple. If the mare at the top of the page is in fact Wing’s Sable Sky, she would be nine years old.

It seems that whatever this is, it is to some degree progressive. With so few horses to go on, it is hard to know what the range of expression might be. Hopefully more horses with a documented history like Dallas will come to light, and a more complete picture of this type of roaning will emerge. In the meantime, a big thank-you to Julia for sending in the photos!

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A detour to dogs

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I want to thank everyone for their patience. I have been called away to deal with family issues more than usual this year, and I apologize that I have once again gotten off-track. Barring any further complications, the current topic of color oddities will return tomorrow.

In the meantime I wanted to share a link to a really interesting dog. Recently a puppy was discovered with the same pattern as a siamese cat. This coloring is a form of partial albinism and is caused by a mutation of tyrosinase, one of the enzymes involved in producing pigment. The mutation makes the enzyme temperature sensitive, so that the warmer parts of the body are pale while the cooler areas (like the extremities) are dark. For that reason, pretty much any mammal with this type of mutation is going to look much like the cats. In addition to cats, the pattern is also found in rabbits, mice, guinea pigs and rats like the ones pictured above. (The photo was taken by Diane Özdamar, whose wonderful gallery of rat photos can be found here.)

Up until this one was found, there was no evidence that dogs had a similar mutation. The puppy was said to have been found on the streets of Russia, but he disappeared before he could be tested. A photo of him can be found here. I wish I knew more, but that is all the information I have. Perhaps there are more like him somewhere in Russia. It would be a shame to lose the color now that it has occurred.

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Unusual white markings

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I know I promised the “really strange” horse, but I think I will just have to call this Mystery Horse Week because I have a few more odd horses to share before I get to the one I intended. My friend Caroline Jones sent these images from a Napoleonic re-enactment. The horse has odd streaks of white hairs on both sides of his body. It looks almost as if someone smeared white ointment on random parts of his body!

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In some ways the white areas remind me of some of the white striped horses, like the part-Arabian DA Remote Control. The marks on this horse are broader – more like smears than stripes – and less opaque, and they are present on both sides. To date most of horses with a pattern like the one linked have had stripes only, or at least primarily, on one side of the body.

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This particular shot shows the varying density of the white hairs a little better. (And the Napoleonic costuming is cool, too.)

If this is not environmental (ie., if it was not caused by something smeared on the horse), and I had to guess, I would suspect that this is another type of somatic mutation, much like the white striping is thought to be. I do believe I have seen at least one other horse with this kind of marking, but I cannot remember where. Certainly if any of the readers has a lead on more horses that look like this, please pass it along. If there is one thing this blog has taught me, it is that if there is one horse with some odd type of pattern, there are probably similar ones somewhere. And that’s what I’ll post for tomorrow’s Mystery Colored Horse. Earlier this year a very odd Saddlebred surfaced, and appeared in this post. Others like her have since surfaced, but just recently someone shared photos of a horse with a documented background, including foal pictures. That should give me enough time to finish assembling the images for the really unusual horse.

Edited: I substituted the word “mystery” for “strange”. While I love anything strange, I realized that the kind folks who sent in pictures of their horses might prefer them to be called something other than “strange”!

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