Breeding

Coat-Color Modifiers

Color modifiers change a horse’s appearance.

Maybe you’re pretty sure you’ve got a handle on the basics of horse color. You know sorrel is recessive, and you know that if you breed your red mare to your red stallion, you’re going to get a red foal. So why did the baby show up with a white mane and tail? How could he be a palomino? The simple answer to that question is he can’t. That new bundle of equine joy is a flaxen sorrel. Easily mistaken for a palomino, the flaxen modifier lightens the mane and tail to a cream or golden color and affects only red-based horses (sorrel, chestnut, red dun).

Another common modifier is a “dirty” coat color known as sooty or smutty. This modifier works on both red and black base colors and darkens areas of the horse’s coat. It can be very minimal, perhaps only appearing on the head or as a darkening along the topline, or it can be extensive, causing the whole body to darken and the horse to be mistaken for a different color. The most minimal expression of sooty – a stripe along the backbone – is often confused with the dorsal stripe of a dun horse and is sometimes called counter shading. It can appear on a horse of any color and does not indicate that the horse carries the gene for dun. The horse must carry other dun factors (such as leg barring) and have a parent that carries the dun gene.

Get the entire series on horse colors with AQHA’s Quarter Horse Coat Colors report. It’s a great resource and a wonderful addition to any horseman’s library. Plus, it includes a bonus article on the rare brindle coat pattern.

If your horse has shading around its muzzle, for example light, cream-colored hair on a sorrel horse, or brown on a dark bay, it’s called mealy or pangare (pan-guh-RAY). The shading usually also occurs around the underside, such as the elbows, flanks and buttocks of the horse. A horse with a network of light and dark spots with round centers (usually concentrated on the barrel and rump) has what is called dappling. Dapples are found on horses of all colors and are usually indicative of excellent nutrition and physical fitness. They can vary significantly over years and seasons.

Color Facts

  • Sootiness is prevalent in horses and can cause a color to become very dark (such as a dark buckskin or dark bay that looks nearly black).
  • A dorsal stripe on a horse does not necessarily mean it is a dun. This is usually the most minimal form of sootiness, often called counter shading.

Big Incentive

From The American Quarter Horse Journal Invest. Perform. Earn. It’s that simple when it comes to participating in the AQHA Incentive Fund. In a nutshell, the Incentive Fund was created to reward and encourage AQHA members for showing their American Quarter Horses. If you nominate your American Quarter Horse stallion to the AQHA Incentive Fund by October 31, 2009, you’ll be eligible to win a John Deere trimmer. Stallions are enrolled on an annual basis for each breeding season, making their offspring eligible to be enrolled, as well. The available money in the Incentive Fund is divided by the number of points earned by the enrolled horses in the open and amateur divisions of AQHA competition throughout the year, making each point worth a certain amount of money. The point value is then multiplied by the number of points earned by the horse to determine the accumulated amount for the year. The 2008 show season saw a record-high in total points – 147,864 – earned by nominated horses, 10,066 more points than in 2007. The point value in 2008 was $22.35, which resulted in a 2008 payout of $3,305,489.51.

“I tell all of my customers that if they’re raising horses that will compete in AQHA shows, they’ve got to enroll them in the AQHA Incentive Fund. A majority of buyers won’t even look at show horses that aren’t in the Incentive Fund. That’s how important it is to the industry,” said Mike Jennings of Professional Auction Services in Leesburg, Virginia. The earnings for each horse are split between the current owner when points were earned, the stallion’s nominator the year of the foal’s conception and the foal’s nominator in an 80-10-10 percent split. Currently, there are 351,587 horses enrolled in the fund, and $63,016,263.69 has been paid out since the first checks were written in 1986. If your stallion is enrolled in the Incentive Fund, you’ll receive the following benefits:

  • Use of the AQHA Incentive Fund logo on all of your advertising
  • 10 percent of all money earned by your stallion’s foals
  • Premium advertising options online for your stallion
  • Added exposure for your business online
  • An investment that pays off

Stallions available for breeding must be nominated to the AQHA Incentive Fund Program by November 30 prior to the breeding season the nomination is for to make foals conceived during that year eligible for participation in the program. Learn more about the Incentive Fund online or call (806) 376-4811. It’s the longest-running and most affordable way to earn money in the show arena! Read about one horse – Harley D Zip – who has benefited from the AQHA Incentive Fund by checking out “Revving Up the Returns” on America’s Horse Daily.