Tag Archives | hoof color

Belton pattern on the feet


In yesterday’s post, I included Audrey Crosby McLellan’s mare, AC’s Painted Lace. The belton spots are pretty obvious on her face, and I wondered if there were similar spots on her white legs. Audrey was kind enough to provide pictures that show them very well.

These first two images are with the lower legs clipped, so they show the spots very clearly. Like the spots on the faces of the previous horses, they are very round and have the same kind of halo effect where the underlying dark skin is wider than the colored hair.

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Those images show the markings very clearly, and these are good shots of wet feet to show what is going on with the hooves.

Right front foot (front and back)

Right hind foot (front, side and back)

Left hind foot (front and back)

These pictures show how the color is concentrating down around the hoof. This kind of density in spotting is often seen in tobianos, where the cat-tracks cluster around the hoof. This gives some tobianos surprisingly dark hooves. It is also seen in some belton dogs. They have heavier spotting on the legs (and face), but it increases still more at the toes. Here is a tobiano with that kind of spot concentration, and an inset image of an English Setter with the black-toed belton look.


I have no idea if the actual mechanism behind belton dogs (T, or Ticking) is even similar to these kinds of spots on horses, but the visual similarities are striking.

I would also add that posting unusual horses to the blog is a lot of fun, because it often results in readers sending in images of their own horses, or horses they have encountered. Just recently, someone sent a horse that is truly strange – and it takes a lot for me to call something strange! I am going to use the leg spotting as a jumping-off point to talk a little about cat-tracks, and then move on to my strange example. So stay tuned for some cool stuff!

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Appaloosa puzzler


This is Jag, my appaloosa puzzler. I mentioned Jag and what makes him unusual in one of the earliest posts on this blog. That’s because there are aspects of Jag’s pattern that say he is heterozygous for the varnish roan gene. His blanket is most definitely spotted.


And yet his feet, which have no white markings whatsoever, are predominantly shell-colored.


They were recently trimmed in this shot, which is why they are so bright. Here they are a few weeks later. The dark area on the left hind (furthest right in the picture), is not visible in the shot above, since he’s facing the other direction. That one area is a bit darker and more striped, but otherwise the hooves look more like the shell hooves of a homozygous horse.

He also has mottling on his muzzle that I think of as being more typical of homozygous horses – but only one one side!


See how pink and freckled with black the one side is, while the other has the webbing of pink on a dark background? In fact, that area that looks so pink is even roaning out really fast, while the rest of his face – indeed, almost his whole body – shows almost no varnish roaning. The patch of varnish roan can be seen in the picture with his newly trimmed hooves.

Here is a close up of that side, which shows the white hairs along that part of his face really well. (I am sorry to say I didn’t think to take a contrasting picture of his “normal” side!)


Here if a face shot that shows his roan patch pretty well. The only other area he is showing any significant roaning is his tail, which – like the patch on his face – is silvering quite rapidly.

Jag also has mottling around his eyes, though it is not very pronounced. He has a partial blue eye on the right side, too.


Jag is a puzzle to me. I am looking forward to the release of the leopard complex test, because I’d love to test him to see if he is truly heterozygous (as his spots suggest).

Update: Jag was tested when the Leopard Complex test was released, and is heterozygous for Lp. He was also tested for the first three splash genes and frame overo, and all were negative.

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Homozygous appaloosas


I had a few more detail shots of Colt, my friend Marge’s elderly few spot gelding who was used in yesterday’s post.

As I mentioned in an earlier post about mottling, homozygous appaloosas like Colt often have more pronounced face mottling. Here are some pictures of his muzzle.


In my experience, homozygous appaloosas seem more likely to have this kind of mottling, where it looks like areas of pink skin with an overlay of small, dark spots.

They also seem more likely to have mottling around the eyes. (Although it is not something that changes the look of the eyes, homozygous appaloosas are also night blind.)


Here is the muzzle of the snowcap appaloosa from this previous post. (His nose is a little dirt from wuffling the ground, so his nose doesn’t look as pink.)


He has less pronounced mottling around his eyes, but he does have it.


Here is another body shot of him. Notice how light his front hooves are, even though those legs are solid (and black-pigmented).  Also note how very white his hindquarters are. That is one way to know he is not a false snowcap, because the real ones often have underlying pink skin that give them that really, really white look.


If you look closely at the lower legs on this fellow, you can also see that he has the bronzing effect that someone mentioned in the comments section of yesterday’s post. He is a bay horse. See how red the upper part of that leg looks, and the difference in tone at the knee? But when you get down to the hoof, the ankles are a silvery buff. That’s one of the other things that the leopard complex gene can do, though it doesn’t seem to do it all the time. I hope to make a longer post about it in the future, but I’d like to gather more photos for it if I can. (If you have photos of appaloosas that you have taken that show an oddy, hard-to-categorize base color, that you don’t mind appearing on the blog, feel free to send them. Just click on the sabino illustration to the right, and it will give you the contact information.)

Before I do that, though, I have a puzzler of an appaloosa that I will post tomorrow.

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