Unusual eye color


I wanted to get pictures of one of the new horses at our barn, Dutch, to use for a post on sooty patterns. Dutch was interesting because he has the very dark forehand that some sooty buckskins get. I also thought artists that read the blog might find the abrupt transition between his body color and the black front legs interesting.

I had only seen Dutch at a distance, but I had gotten the impression he had somewhat paler-than-usual eyes. Light brown eyes are not uncommon in buckskins or palominos, so that would not have been unexpected. When I got close enough to take this picture, the reflection from his eyes looked off. (All the images in this post are larger than they appear, and since the details are small, I highly recommend clicking them to see the larger version.) Instead of looking pale brown, his eyes looked like the reflective gleam was in the wrong place. That is more noticeable in this face shot.


Over the years I have learned that odd reflections in the eyes sometimes mean the horse has a blue segment, and sure enough, that was the case with Dutch. Although he has no white markings at all, both of his eyes have flecks of blue. The largest one is located close to the bottom of his right eye, and is what is giving the odd reflection.


As can be seen in that photo, he has a number of blue flecks in that eye. His iris also has irregular patches of golden brown and darker brown, giving the whole eye a marbled look. Although it was more visible in brighter light, even without the light directly hitting the eye the blue areas could be seen.


His left eye had smaller flecks of blue that were much harder to capture on film. (This is the image that would most benefit from clicking, since the flecks are so small.)


He would be an interesting horse to test for splash white. So far a couple of individuals without white markings of any kind have tested heterozygous classic splash white (SW1). Perhaps Dutch carries SW1, too. It is also possible that there is some other yet-unknown cause for the blue sections in his eyes.

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3 Responses to Unusual eye color

  1. Joanne Abramson October 30, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    We have several horses with spots of blue in their eyes that have tested negative for the SW genes. All had tested positive for other white patterns. I am still not convinced that SW and blue eyes is valid as we have tested
    so many exceptions here.

  2. Talia November 6, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    My silver buckskin overo APHA mare (Ee Aa nZ nCr nO) had eyes nearly identical to this. I always described them as looking like tiger-eye stone. The look of the blue flecks always struck me as being different than that of a TRUE bi-color eye. They were more of a silvery white than true blue. Interestingly enough, that mare was also quite sooty, just like Dutch. I never did test her for splash. I may test her silver bay frame overo filly for splash since she has face-white that is indicative of the gene. The bay silver filly has solid, dark eyes however.



  3. Talia November 6, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    On another note – what breed is Dutch? I think it might be worthwhile to test him for silver. He has some very interesting flaxen highlights. The root color of his mane/tail seem to be a dark burgundy color – a lot like my mare Angel. The AQHA silver buckskin mare Nu Catalena also has very similar color traits.