Tag Archives | PRE

All kinds of updates

CreamHorse

I apologize for neglecting this blog this past month. My time has been almost completely absorbed in the final production work for the book. The good news is that the book is just a few weeks away from publication, though I am almost afraid to jinx it by saying so! What time hasn’t been spent on the book has gone towards a handful of print articles. This has all meant that the blog has languished simply because I couldn’t face writing anything more.

Which is a shame because I sure haven’t lacked for things to share. While I have been quiet, all manner of interesting things have been piling up on my desk and in my inbox. One of them is the picture at the top of this blog. I truly wanted to include it in the book, but I never heard back from the Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums regarding commercial usage of the image. They do allow non-commercial use, though, so I thought I would share it here on the blog. The reason I wanted it for the book is that I have a chapter on the now-extinct Hanoverian Creams. Those were the ceremonial carriage horses that were once used by British royalty, but are now extinct. They have long held a certain fascination for horse color researchers because their exact color is not known. The other mystery is what ever became of them. It is known that some of their Continental relatives ended up in the Wulff Circus, and that a handful of the British horses ended up with Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake. This image caught my eye because the horse has the same diluted coat with the very dark mane and tail that is seen in some of the later images of the Creams. But even more interesting, the photo is part of a group associated with Lord John Sanger’s circus. There is a connection between Sanger and Tyrwhitt-Drake, so it is quite plausible that this horse was one of the Creams, or was related to them. The photos are not dated, but the range from the other photos in the set are correct for the horses that were dispersed to have still be alive. If anyone recognizes the image and can place it or date it, I’d love to hear from them!

There have also been a couple of interesting horses that have come to light in just the last few weeks. The first is another white-born Standardbred recently foaled in New Jersey. Pictures of him can be seen here. Since both is sire Art Major and dam Coochie Mama are unmarked horses, he is quite likely a new dominant white mutation. Another suspected dominant white Standardbred, Macahan Loss, was born in 2008.

The other cool new horse is a confirmed silver dilute Pura Raza Espanola (PRE). That is the mare Trajana YR. She is actually chestnut, so the color is not visible on her, but she carries the gene. If she is bred to a bay or black horse she could produce a black or red silver (bay silver). Some readers might remember a few years ago there was a PRE stallion that was rumored to have been tested as a silver, but many questions were raised about his purity and his testing status. His owner stopped replying to questions (not that I can say I blame them, given the truly unpleasant tone that many took), and it became a dead end. Hopefully this mare puts an end to the debate over whether the gene is there or not.

Speaking of the silver dilution, I was able to get some really wonderful contrast shots a few weeks ago. The opportunity to have two visually similar, but genetically different, colors side-by-side only come up on rare occasions, so I was tickled to have gotten these shots. I haven’t had time to crop and size the photos, but eventually I will have those up on the blog. And I still have to post the “English translation” for the splash research, and some much-needed updates to the Splash Project page. And there are other cool things that just need to be sorted and composed. So like I said, there is a lot to share – just not enough hours in my days at the moment!

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Depigmentation on greys

Depigmented

One of the best places to study horse color is the wash rack, and BreyerFest was no exception. This is one of the guest horses at the event, Pecos. He is a 13 year-old PRE stallion. As the pictures in the link show, he appears to be a grey that has turned uniformly white. When wet, though, small spots of depigmented skin are visible.

Many greys lose pigment as they age, and this seems particularly true of horses of Spanish descent. What makes the depigmentation on Pecos a bit unusual is that it is not concentrated on his face or his undersides. Notice in the picture above that his sheath area is still quite dark. (I did not think to take a shot of the area under his tail, unfortunately, but I suspect it too is still mostly dark.)

This shot shows that his face is also mostly dark.

Depigmented2

I did not get any shots of the front of his nose since he was rather intent upon wuffling the rack, but this picture shows how the area around the borders of his marking as started to mottle. That is common in older greys and seems especially common in the breeds that are prone to depigmentation.

Two of the breeds covered in the upcoming book – the Boulonnais and the Kladruber – get an even more dramatic form of pigment loss that appears to effect the face. Studies done in the Czech Republic suggested that the two types of depigmentation in greys – one concentrated on the undersides and one on the face – are genetically distinct from one another.

Neither look much like what is going on with Pecos. His owner said that this was a recent development and that they thought it was a reaction to medication.

The spots are also unlike Tetrarch spots, named for the famous grey racehorse who had them.

Tetrarch spots usually appear in the earlier stages of greying, and disappear as the horse greys out. Photos suggest that these kinds of spots have dark skin under the white hair, rather than white skin like the spots on Pecos.

Pictures of one of the extensively depigmented Kladrubers appear in the upcoming book. Horses like that are interesting because their presence could mask others kinds of patterning in an all-grey (or mostly grey) breed.

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