What Is That?

All sorts of equine color odds and ends, and the color white.

From America's Horse

If you have ever been looking at a horse and seen a big black dot on its rump, turned to your friend and said, “What would you call that?” this article is for you. Horses can pop up with all sorts of odds-and-ends markings, with names that come in handy for equine trivia games.

Those black spots are called Bend-Or spots, named for a famous Thoroughbred stallion born in 1877 that carried them. Bend-Or spots are also called smut or grease spots. They show up most commonly on light-colored horses, such as palomino and sorrel. It is not known what causes them. Like the Bend-Or spots, Birdcatcher spots are also named for a Thoroughbred stallion that had them. These, however, are small white spots. There might be only one, or there might be a series of dime-sized spots clustered together. It is not known what causes these, either. Prominent racehorse and sire Man O’War (TB), who is in many American Quarter Horse bloodlines, traces to both Bend-Or and Birdcatcher.

Can you name all 17 recognized American Quarter Horse colors? Could you pick each of them out in a pasture full of horses? Better yet, do you know how each color is genetically derived? Get answers to all your coat color questions with AQHA’s Quarter Horse Coat Colors report.

In 2005, AQHA added white to its list of approved colors. To be considered white, a horse must have white hair, pink skin and dark eyes. The horse may have small black spots on the skin, but the spots are rarely accompanied by colored hair. The color should not be confused with a white-gray (a gray horse that has turned white with age but has dark skin), cremello or perlino (cream dilutes that have blue eyes) or classic albino, which does not exist in horses. The genetics that cause white are being researched. It appears in a number of breeds and can be caused by pinto patterns such as sabino, overo and splash white. It can also be caused by a genetic mutation called dominant white. This is lethal in its homozygous form, and in its heterozygous form can cause white horses. Dominant white horses typically have one white parent, but in rare cases, can come from solid parents.

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Common in cattle, the striping brindle coloration is rare in horses. Its genetic makeup isn’t really known, but noted equine color geneticist Phillip Sponenberg thinks it may have to do with the gene that causes the “sooty” color.

Still have color questions? Get answers to all your coat color questions with AQHA’s Quarter Horse Coat Colors report. This full-color, 20-page report is packed with easy-to-understand information about all 17 recognized colors.

“I suspect that the brindling gene reorganizes the sootiness into stripes,” he says. Brindles can also be caused by chimerism (ky-MARE-ism), which occurs when a horse is a mixture of two individual animals, formed when two nonidentical fertilized eggs fuse into one very early in development. This causes the coat color to be striped like a brindle. The horse is normal but carries the DNA for two different horses.

AQHA at the Congress

Excited to see American Quarter Horses in action? Visit the 2010 All-American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio October 1-24. AQHA will provide a variety of onsite services during the 2010 Quarter Horse Congress. So, take a ride to the Ohio Expo Center and visit AQHA on-site services in Congress Hall at booth #509 to catch up on your AQHA business. You can:

  • Renew your membership and get a FREE gift.
  • Purchase or renew your Journal subscription and get a FREE gift.
  • Transfer a horse, no matter how many owners, for only $15 per horse.*
  • Bring your registration papers for expedited service and discounted prices on horses 3 years and older.
  • Look up records on your horse and receive a FREE print out.

Attention AQHYA members!  Stop by the booth at Congress and show us your current AQHYA membership card to get a FREE Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show T-shirt!* *While supplies last.