Tag Archives | snowflaking

Snowflakes and marbles

Snowflakes

Before I move on to badger faces, I wanted to share another unusual appaloosa from Steph’s files. She took these pictures at the 2012 Midwest Horse Fair, and I apologize for my less-than-perfect color corrections on them. This particular horse seemed intent on staying in the shade, so I had to play with the settings quite a bit so that his pattern was more visible.

Appaloosas that develop clusters of white hairs are often called snowflake appaloosas. Appaloosas that have larger, overlapping clusters of white hairs are sometimes called marbled. Horses that inherit both varnish roan (Leopard complex, or Lp) and grey seem particularly prone to developing the marbled pattern, but it also occurs on non-greys like this horse. Appaloosas like this tend to stand out from other appaloosa roans because they look more blotchy and contrasted, as the picture of this guy among other appaloosas shows.

Snowflakes4

If you look closely, this guy looks to have some kind of lacy, spotted hip blanket in addition to the marbling. The marbling also extends down the tailhead in fairly distinct round spots, which I thought was interesting. Like the moldy spots on yesterday’s horse, the whole effect looks very layered, with the darkest spots sitting on the topmost “layer” of the coat.

Snowflake2

The marbling was not evenly spread across the coat, but concentrated on the forehand and on the chest in particular. That is more noticeable in this shot.

Snowflakes3

In some ways those areas are reminiscent of type of patterns seen on horses with the white fungal markings. There are also horses that develop a similar pattern that is not thought to be related to the appaloosa patterns. You can find some of those, and some marbled appaloosas, on this Pintrest board.

Pint

Many appaloosas get some clustered spots of white as they roan. Here they are on the ears of my own near-leopard mare.

EarSpots

Around the same time she acquired white spots on her neck, chest and face, though those the existing roaning made them less noticeable than the ones on her ears.

SprinkContinental

It is not known why some appaloosas develop such an exaggerated version of this kind of clustered white spotting while most do not. Perhaps it is a modifier that redirects the roaning process, much like the Bend Or pattern appears to redirect the the sooty hairs into clusters on some horses. It is also possible that some of these horses may have some unrelated white spotting pattern, since breeders often assemble breeding groups that contain similar-looking colors that have a very different genetic cause.

Continue Reading

Appaloosas

SprinkStripes

(Previously posted on September 10, 2010 on the Blackberry Lane Studio Blog.)

Appaloosa patterns have been on my mind lately. Some of that comes from watching the changes in my own mare’s pattern. After years of without much change, she has begun to roan more visibly.

She still has her rib stripes, though the background color is far closer to gray than chocolate these days. It never ceases to amaze me how very vertical the lines are. They do not follow the contour of the body (like the stripes on a zebra) or the direction of hair growth. Instead they look like someone drew them with a ruler.

I have been pondering the lines because I considered placing Sprinkle’s pattern on an Oliver, but I need to do a little research on how the stripes appear in foals (if in fact they do at all). That’s one of the pitfalls with appaloosa patterns; they are progressive so age matters.

SprinkLeg

Sprinkles did get more white hairs each year, but the process was so slow I thought she’d be quite old before she looked really different. Then last fall I noticed she was getting a few white dots on the back of her ears. I have tried a few times to photograph them, but getting her head to point away from me when I am holding something as interesting as a camera is hard to do!

This summer she started getting the same white dots on her legs. They are more numerous on her hind legs than her front, and far more to the inside than the outside. At the same time she is getting darker dots there, too, though they are much harder to catch since they are only visible in the right light. (The faded parts of her coat are somewhat iridescent.) The spots are quite muted and soft in outline, much like the Tetrarch spots some grey horses get.

You can also see that she has a completely shell hoof on that leg. Appaloosas have stripes on their hooves when they have solid legs, but when there are white markings they have shell hooves just like any other horse. That is, unless they are homozygous for the “master switch” for the appaloosa patterns. Those horses have shell hooves (or nearly so) no matter what color the leg is.

Which is why I find one of Sprinkle’s buddies so interesting. I have shared pictures of Jag before. He is a black blanket appaloosa that I suspect also carries the splash gene. He is certainly not homozygous because his blanket is spotted; homozygous blanket appaloosas end up as snowcaps.

Jagblanket

These are the two sides of his blanket pattern. He certainly has spots. He also has the neatest white patches that run all along his spine up to his withers. One of these days I’ll remember to get a shot of that, too.

So he is heterozygous and black. Yet his hooves are almost shell colored, they are so minimally striped.

Jaghooves

I only got a shot of his two hind feet, but the front look much the same. They are faintly striped, and that one hind has a dark patch, but they are predominantly shell. Sprinkles, and most of the other genetically black appaloosas I have encountered, have had predominantly dark hooves on their solid legs. (I should mention that Jag has no white on his feet at all.)

I have wondered if this is just a normal variation of expression, or if it is related to his carrying the splash gene, or some other combination of factors. That is what makes appaloosas (and sabinos, for that matter) so very interesting to me. The appearance of the pattern depends on the interaction of many different genes rather than a single one, so it is a puzzle to determine which traits can occur in conjunction and which ones cannot.

Like I said, part of my interest comes from being around Sprinkles. But I am also looking forward to glazing, which I will begin again in earnest as soon as Elsie’s molds are drying. Almost all the horses that come up next in line are appaloosas, or appaloosas in combination with some other pattern. I want to get all these little things right when the time comes, so I’ve been asking myself these kinds of questions.

Continue Reading