Reverse dapple roaning


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.


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.


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.


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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18 Responses to Reverse dapple roaning

  1. sarah (@breyerchic04) August 27, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    do we still get crazier?

    • The Equine Tapestry August 28, 2012 at 10:19 am #

      Always. 🙂

      Yes, I have another horse that is odd in a different way that will go up in a later post.

  2. Nicole Jory August 28, 2012 at 3:17 am #

    … what color were the parents? Is this some sort of mutation? Is it actually a type of roaning, or is it a type of greying? I’m wondering if it has any relation to the Sabino gene, just like other types of roaning?

    • Julia Bahr August 28, 2012 at 9:06 am #

      Dallas’ sire is a solid palomino, her dam a chestnut tobiano so she’s definitely not greying. Her dam doesn’t show the reverse dappling but it’s possible that she has the sabino gene.

      • The Equine Tapestry August 28, 2012 at 10:18 am #

        Julia, when you say a solid palomino, do you mean unmarked or just not having a pinto pattern?

      • Nicole Jory August 29, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

        A type of Sabino is my guess but I wouldn’t write off a “new” grey mutation.. grey itself is a mutation so the “first” grey ever didn’t have grey parents either.. maybe this is a different form of greying that we are seeing? I still believe it’s probably related to Sabino.. but would be really interesting to see if there are more horses out there with this

        • The Equine Tapestry September 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

          There are more that look like this, or somewhat like this. It’s an open question if they are all the same thing, or different things that look alike. I have gotten permission to publish at least one more, and am working on some others. I also have more images of the odd “Spanish” greys like the Comico horses, too.

    • The Equine Tapestry August 28, 2012 at 10:17 am #

      Those are all questions I have been asking, too. With Sable Sky, both parents are registered as chestnut. Of course, if this is a progressive thing then the roaning might not appear until after the papers were sent in, and the later color might not be accurately reflected. We also don’t know if all the horses that look like this have the same thing. There were some Connemaras that were posted in a previous thread that look a bit like this, too, but may or may not be the same thing.

  3. dakota328 August 28, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    These sort of remind me of a picture of a horse that has been circling the internet lately.. Any thoughts on the extreme contrast on his dapples? A lot of people have been calling him a snow flake tobiano however there is no sign of the LP complex in my opinion.. Looks like he’s got sabino, could that be heightening the ‘white’ of the dapples? On his hind leg there he’s got the veining pattern you mention up top.

    • The Equine Tapestry August 28, 2012 at 10:14 am #

      That is Austin, and he’s a silver dapple. That particular kind of vivid dappling was something that was really popular in Shetlands in the early part of the twentieth century, and there were all kinds of theories about how you could breed for it. Probably the most common was that crossing to non-fading, raven black horses produced the best dapples. Even so, a horse that looked like that one season might not have much dappling the next, or might be much lighter or darker.

      • dakota328 August 28, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

        Thank you! That was exactly what I was wanting to know.

  4. peg4x4 August 29, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    Did someone buy the first horse?
    I hope so.
    Someone with food.
    BTW Love this site!

  5. Nicole Jory August 30, 2012 at 12:19 am #

    also, just wanted to ask… does this type of roaning remind anyone else of Donkey roaning? l wonder if it is a similar pattern mutation?

  6. amber lane August 31, 2012 at 12:47 am #

    oh you wuld be insanely interested in a horse at my summer camp 😛 tested blue vafnish roan with mottled skin, blueish skin of cours,e but on his ankles, he is a definate chestnut. it is totally odd. he has reverse dapples on his colored areas, too.

    • peg4x4 August 31, 2012 at 9:28 am #


    • The Equine Tapestry September 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

      I would love to see pictures, if you can get some of him.

      • Alina February 19, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

        I know a mare who looks like an odd mix of red and blue roan. Her face looks like blue roan but her body has a reddish metallic like shine. I was wondering about her color


  1. Reverse dappling progression « The Equine Tapestry - October 4, 2012

    […] the American Saddlebred with a reversed dappled pattern. (Previous posts about her can be found here and here.) Images of Sable Sky prompted Julia Bahr to send in photos of her Missouri Foxtrotter […]