What color is a horse? The words for a horse's coat color
have very specific meanings.
A bay horse has a body coat that is a shade of brown with
black legs, mane, and tail. Within the bay group, there are
blood bays which is a more dark reddish shade of brown and
bright bays which can look a golden brown. There are also
black bays, which might appear to most people as a black horse.
Truly black horses are a more rare color.
Most horses that you might think look black are black bays,
which is a very dark brown. You will see lighter colored hair
between the hind legs and tummy area and around the muzzle.
This makes them black bays instead of black horses. People
also call this seal brown.
A chestnut horse has a coat that is a shade of red, while
the legs, mane, and tail may be lighter or darker than the
body, or the same color, but never black. A chestnut horse
can be any shade of red, reddish-brown, or orangey-red. A
very dark brownish red with no black on the legs, mane, or
tail is known as liver chestnut. It is a more rare color.
Sorrel is another word for a light chestnut color.
Grey horses have black skin with white or gray hair. A grey
horse might look white, but if its skin is dark, it is a grey.
Grey horses are born a dark color, such as black or brown,
and their coat grows lighter as they grow older. There are
light grey, dapple grey, flea-bitten grey, and steel grey
variations in coloring. A white horse must have pink skin,
which is more rare than grey horses.
Dun horses have a sandy yellow to reddish brown coat. Their
legs are usually darker than their body and they sometimes
have faint zebra stripes on their legs. Dun horses always
have a dark stripe down the middle of their back along their
back bone, known as a dorsal stripe.
Sometimes the dorsal stripe continues down the horse's tail
and through the mane. Many dun colored horses also have face
masking, which makes the horse's nose and sometimes the rest
of the face a darker color than the horse's body.
A buckskin horse has a sandy yellow or tan color with black
legs, mane, and tails. Buckskins are similar looking to duns,
except that buckskins do not have a dorsal stripe or other
primitive markings that are seen in duns.
Palomino horses have gold-colored coat with a white or
light cream colored mane and tail. A palomino coat can range
from a light off-white shade to a deep shade of gold.
Roan horses have white hairs mixed with a body color to produce
blue roan, which is roan mixed with black, red roan, which
is roan and bay, and strawberry or rose roan, which roan and
There are other white body markings and spots that can affect
the horse color to be a Paint or an Appaloosa, which also
have breed registries just for them.
So next time you see a brown or black horse, look carefully
- What color is the horse?
Jennifer Allbright writes for http://www.NewtoHorses.com
which provides information to new-comers on caring for, riding,
and showing horses. The site offers a wide range of information
from safety around horses and resources for horse items to
specifics about dressage training and showing.