The Unusual Horse Color Called Champagne

The Unusual Horse Color Called Champagne

The rare horse color champagne creates a unique horse coat color appearance.

A champagne colored horse is being ridden by a cowgirl in a horse show arena.

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By Andrea Caudill

It’s impossible to ignore. A horse’s color is the first thing you see when you approach them, painting each individual in unique colors, all beautiful in their own way.

One of the most unusual coat colors of the American Quarter Horse is known as champagne. There are three variations of this color: gold champagne, amber champagne and classic champagne.

This rare American Quarter Horse color, champagne, is a dominant modifier horse color, which means that it acts on whatever “base color” the horse has, whether that is black, red or bay. (Learn more about coat color modifiers here.) A dominant modifier is a dominant trait, which means that a horse that has it will pass the color on 50 to 100 percent of the time, and the color is visible in the horse’s coat if he carries the genes for it.

The champagne gene dilutes the horse’s hair pigment from black to brown and red to gold.

  • Gold Champagne: If a horse has a base color of red, such as sorrel or chestnut, the champagne gene will dilute the horse’s color so that the horse’s coat will appear golden. It also frequently dilutes the mane and tail to white, causing people to mistake the horse for a palomino.
  • Amber Champagne: A horse with a black base and agouti modifier color, such as a bay or brown, the champagne gene will dilute the red hairs on the horse’s body to tan and dilute the black hair on its legs, mane and tail to brown. This will often appear as an unusual, mousy buckskin, dun or grullo horse.
  • Classic Champagne: If a horse has a black base color, such as a black, the champagne gene will dilute the body color to a dark tan body with brown points. This can be confused with a grullo coat color.

Typical traits of a horse that is champagne colored include:

  • Skin colored in a pinkish or light lavender shade.
  • Speckles or freckles on the horse’s skin, most commonly seen around the muzzle, eyes, sheath or udder area, and under the horse’s tail.
  • A champagne horse is typically born with blue-green eyes that darken to amber, hazel or light brown as the horse ages.
  • A champagne horse sometimes has a metallic sheen to its coat.

Because the champagne gene is inherited independently of other coat-color genes, it can occur in combination of other coat modifier genes. Once the horse is tested, all the color genes it carries can be noted on its AQHA registration certificate.

Contact the AQHA Member Experience Team at 806-376-4811 if you have coat-color questions.

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