Archive | Oddities

Unusual appaloosa

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While searching through some old binders, I found some photographs of an unusual Appaloosa pattern. I apologize for the rather poor quality of the images, which were taken in a poorly lit arena using a traditional (non-digital) camera. I’ve tried to bump up the brightness without losing too much in the way of detail. Apparently the horse was never in the right position to get a good side shot, which is a shame.

He caught my eye because of how abruptly his coat transitioned to the dark areas of his pattern. Also unusual was how rounded the edges were. This is especially visible on his face and neck.

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The other unusual aspect of his pattern was the “bleached edge” effect on some of the roaned areas. You can see one on the bridge of his nose, both in the picture above and this one from the front.

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The above shot also shows how the roaned areas appear to “pool” around the dark parts of his legs. Dark leg marks like this are pretty common on appaloosas, but the nature of the roaning, which looks a lot like fleabiting on a grey, all in discreet areas (with those oddly rounded edges) while areas of relatively clear bay remain is quite odd. If this was an artistic representation, and not a real horse, I would have said the artist needed to work on more realistic transitions  on the legs.

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On both the leg shots, the faintly whiter outline on the roan areas can be seen. The blanket pattern on his hindquarters, though, is pretty normal. I’ll include a close shot, since the spots show a really nice contrast between the two different types of halo-spotting. The darkest spots have halos that are made up of a mix of white and colored hairs, while the centers are colored. The centermost spot has a halo created by dark skin underneath white hair. The center of that spot is a mix of white and colored hair, though elsewhere there are spots that have dark skin halos and purely colored hair centers.

These photos are probably close to 15 years old now, and I never did learn the name of the horse. If anyone recognizes him, please drop me a note. I’d love to be able to look into his background.

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More unusual markings

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Readers probably remember this horse from a post made back in August. At the time there was some discussion about whether or not this might be the result of a somatic mutation, or if it was caused by a reaction to something applied to the coat. Because the outline of the markings give the look of a horse smeared with an ointment, quite a few readers thought some kind of reaction to a topical substance must be the cause.

Since that post, the photographer has been in contact with the owner. The horse is named Cherokee, appears to have had the markings at least since he was a yearling, since they are noted on his passport from that age. His name would tend to suggest that his unusual markings were present in some form from quite early. His owner said that his is supposed to be an Irish Draught and Thoroughbred cross, though she mentioned that he does pace so the cross might be with a Standardbred.

But even more intriguing, another reader found a horse with a similar type of marking. This time it is a purebred Arabian mare. Her owner, Sami Alhassoun, kindly gave me permission to share her photos here.

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Her name is Duja Alforsan and she is of local Egyptian breeding. Sami says that she was born with a white spot on her shoulder about 2 centimeters across. It grew as she matured, but stabilized at its present size when she was fully grown. She has had six foals, none of which have had this type of marking, nor have they produced it in their offspring.

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The similarity to the markings on Cherokee is quite striking. It does not sound like either case involved anything applied to the coat, so it seems increasingly likely that this is some kind of somatic mutation. That might explain the unusual, non-organic outline. As I mentioned in the original post, the markings on Cherokee – and now Duja – are reminiscent of the odd white striping that some horses have.

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And a hat tip to Maria Hjerppe for coming across Duja and putting me in touch with Sami. One of the best parts about doing this blog is the wide network of people out there looking for unusual horses. I have come to believe that one unusual horse is almost never the only one!

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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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