Tag Archives | champagne

A teaser image from the book


I have been working this past week to finalize the photos for the upcoming book, Equine Tapestry: An Introduction to Colors and Patterns, and I thought it would fun to share a teaser image. The above picture shows how the dappling pattern – including the distinctive ‘spider vein’ pattern on the gaskin – on a champagne is a near-perfect reverse of the dappling pattern on a sooty palomino. I met this mare at a local Appaloosa show, and took numerous photos of her striking coloring.

The reversed veins are visible here on her forearms as well as her gaskins

I have been very fortunate that so many people from around the world have been willing to share images of their horses. Looking through the draft of the book, it pleases me to see so many different breeds, and so many different countries, represented. Three years ago, when I began work on the previous book, one of my biggest worries was whether or not I would be able to get the photos I needed to tell the stories of those breeds. This time around, my biggest challenge is fitting in all the images I would like to use!

Because there are still quite a few steps to go before the book is finalized, I do not yet have a publication date. If there is one thing that I learned from the last time, it is that there are always new ways for a book to be delayed! I will keep blog readers posted as things progress, though.


I plan to post a few more teaser images as I get time in the upcoming weeks, including some additional photos of Vasco Piskui, the manchado Polo Pony from the cover. I was recently contacted by his current owner with some additional images of him that show more of this rare pattern. So keep checking back – or better yet, enter your address to the right (“Subscribe to blog via email”) and have the blog posts delivered to your inbox.

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One more on skin color


Here is one more interesting horse with pale skin, this time an appaloosa. Like the amber champagne mare from a few days ago, her skin is quite consistently pink. Here is a close-up of her face.


She has the small freckles often associated with champagnes, but the area behind her eye has the patchy skin coloring more typical of an appaloosa. Although most appaloosas have patchy skin, rather than freckled pink skin, there are individuals that look like this mare.

It may be that she is also a champagne as well as an appaloosa. She was squinting in almost every shot I took, and I never was able to get a good look at her eye color before she was gone. This poor photo doesn’t give a clear idea. Her body color is in keeping with what might be seen on a champagne, but with the appaloosa gene influencing the appearance of her skin it is hard to be sure. Even if she is a champagne, this kind of skin coloring can be found on appaloosas that are clearly not champagne. It isn’t really common, but it does occur.


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Skin color variations – palominos


Yesterday’s post was about skin color in champagnes and cremellos. Today I wanted to share a few pictures of some palominos, to show how some of them can be mistaken for champagne. The gelding pictured above is clearly a palomino, with the very dark skin visible on his muzzle and around his eyes. Here is another picture taken in slightly different lighting, still showing the uniformly dark skin pigmentation.


His skin is uniformly dark – on his face. But this is a shot taken of the area under his tail.


The skin here has a purple tone. It is not fully pigmented like his face. He is sweaty in this picture, so the skin actually appears somewhat darker than it is. Here is another shot showing his sheath and inner thigh, which have the same incomplete pigmentation.


In my experience, this kind of skin coloring is not uncommon in palominos. This guy is actually on the moderate range. I have seen individuals with much less pigment. The give away that the horses are in fact palominos is the dark face skin, though face markings on some pintos can obscure that clue. Dark skin is visible on the muzzle spots on his guy, as well as around his eyes (just barely visible in the photo I took). It isn’t hard to imagine a Paint with markings that would cover those clues, though.


Here is the underside of that same Paint.


It is not surprising that many find the identification of champagnes difficult, given that pinkish skin can be found on the undersides of many palominos. This can also explain why early palomino breeders believed that loss of pigmentation was a progressive thing brought on by breeding palominos together over generations. They were, in fact, breeding both cream and champagne dilutes. The various combinations of those two dilutions, along with the individual variations, could give the visual impression of varying degrees of diluting all three things – skin, eyes and coat color.

Most modern horsemen are aware that champagne is a separate color, and many are getting better at identifying it thanks to websites with comparison shots like the ICHR site linked yesterday. Still the differences can be pretty subtle. The champagne registry prefers the term freckling when describing the skin tone of their horses, to differentiate it from the mottling associated with the appaloosa patterns. As an artist, I think of the skin color on an older champagne – one that has begun to deepen in color – as looking a great deal like pointillism. That is, the darker color is applied in tiny, overlapping dots on a pinkish base. Abundant freckles seems like a good description. Appaloosa mottling looks more like patches of color (dark or light) placed on top of the other. The lighter skin on the undersides of some palominos tends to look like soft washes of dark color dabbed on, but the artist never finished getting the dark pigment fulling applied. Unlike the champagne, there aren’t distinct freckles, although there are softer-edged spots of darker coloring. Unfortunately there isn’t really a good word for that effect. Another subtle difference between champagne skin and pink skin on palominos is that the extremities in one tend towards pink (champagne) and the other towards dark (palomino). In the linked ICHR article, the example used is mare udders. In champagnes, the teats are pink, whereas with palominos those are dark. This is what helps to give the impression that a champagne is a pink-skinned animal that had dark pigmented added, while a palomino is a dark-skinned animal that had pigment taken away.

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