Photo: Karen from

Of the Pinto/Paint pattern genes, Tobiano stands alone as a distinct pattern, but Sabino, Splash, Tovero and Frame are typically lumped under the catch  phrase "Overo". Often a horse may display characteristics of more than one pinto pattern. There are others whose coloring does not fall neatly into any definite category. Often a horse is, in fact, carrying a multitude of genes, each of which is expressed to some extent. Some genes, like Sabino, frequently occur along with other patterns.

Here are some tips to sorting them out:



Frame colt
  • Patches of white along the side of the barrel and/or neck, "framed" by the darker body color.
  • Jagged, rough-sawn edge to spots, but not roany or lacey.
  • White is solidly placed onto the sides of the body (if other patterns don't interfere), thus creating a "frame" of color around the white and spotted areas.
  • Frame on its own will have solid-colored legs.
  • Frame can have conservative or wildly marked face, and will sometimes have blue eyes.

Bay Sabino (Think Clydesdale!) who may also have some Frame in her
  • More excessive leg and face white than Frame
  • A moderate-to-"loud" sabino will look as if the white has spread up as a continuation of the high stockings (think Clydesdale or Shire stockings and how they spread onto the body).
  • Face markings are often lacey and sometimes look sprayed at the edges.
  • Any separate body spots (whether caused by sabino itself or another pattern) will have lacey or roany edges, often with a speckled look
  • Sabino is not a cause of blue eyes, but will allow them if another pattern is present.
Frame with Sabino:

This filly has the laciness of Sabino, with the "framed" quality of the Frame Overo gene on her neck and sides. Her high, white, "knife-blade" hind stockings indicate Sabino, as do her white chin and extravagant white facial markings. The dark front legs and dark tail indicate Frame.



  • Smooth edges to spots
  • Minimal to moderate Splashes: legs and head will look as if they have been dipped into white paint
  • Loud Splash: look as if they waded out into deep white paint, splashed it up around their sides, and then dunked their head, bottom of the neck and sometimes ears in for a drink.
  • They will often have one or two blue eyes.
Bay frame plus minimal sabino (as shown by the sharp "knife-point" socks and "milky" chin).

Bay Frame with Minimal Sabino
Chestnut Frame + Sabino

Thanks to Amy Jaeger for these descriptions and tips on how to sort out the patterns:

"Think of it like paint...

Frame - looks like white was painted with a loaded brush into the space inside the frame around the horse's body

Sabino looks like it was sprayed on with a faulty spray gun, splattering around, usually starting from the legs and face and moving toward the body

Splash looks like the horse was dipped in white paint

Each of these patterns come in versions so minimal that some people consider them "normal markings."

Photo: Ginny Freeman and Sapphire
Bay Frame with minimal Sabino (milky chin, jagged edges to socks)

Red Dun Frame Sabino

TOBIANO with Sabino


TOVERO (To' - 'Vero)
If it's a pinto/p[aint and not clearly a tobiano, sabino, frame, or splash, likely it can be called a Tovero. Tovero horses combine the characteristics of Tobiano and any/all of the Overos . They often have a substantial amount of white throughout their body. At present, there is no known Tovero gene - it's just a description of a color pattern


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