The First Touch Gentling Your Mustang
Lesley works with 3 wild
horses at a BLM adoption, and very clearly explains what is
happening, what she is doing, & what she sees in each horse
as it progresses. Study this video and you can learn
"pressure and release" gentling techniques to gentle your
own new mustang!
Help for Burro adopters! Crystal Ward
All the basics of gentling,
handling, and training. A MUST for new burro adopters!
Good for domestic donkeys, too!
Horse Colors, Color Genes, & Color Patterns
Disclaimer: I am not a geneticist. The information on these color pages represents the best scientific info I have been able to locate. Theories and knowledge change over time, and it may be you know something I don't - this site is not intended to be "the last word" in colors, just a guide for those wishing to explore the topic.
Color genetics are the same for all horses, regardless of breed or ancestry.
Since this is a Mustang website, I use and prefer pictures of wild, or formerly-wild horses wherever possible.
There are many great websites about horse colors,
currently on the Internet. A simple Google search will turn up quite
a few. If you would prefer, I have prepared this easy-to-read and
Colors and color patterns in mustangs are extremely varied, the inheritance of the early Spanish Horses who came in many colors and patterns. - Dr. Phillip Sponenberg
Horse Color variations are so numerous, and they go by so many names, that it may seem impossibly complicated to understand. But understanding horse coloring does not have to be so hard.
Think of it as LAYERS, like painting with stencils or making wax-resist batik.
You start with a BASE COLOR: it will be one of two: Red or Black. That's all there are.
Every horse is, at base, either red or black.
The base color is determined by one "gene" - the Extension Locus. With the dominant form of Extension, the horse can be either red or black,
but in reality will be black, except in the presence of a second "gene" - Agouti, which makes Bay,
by restricting the black pigment to the "Points: (ear tips, mane, tail,
In its recessive form
the Extension Locus creates red pigment. All other colors and color patterns are created by the actions of genetic modifiers on these two base pigments.
photo: Andi Harmon
RED (chestnut, sorrel)
"Chrome" is a term
that refers to white markings on the face (stars, snips, blazes, aprons) and lower legs(socks, etc).
Chrome is determined genetically (by a color blocking agent) that may be an entirely separate component to coloring, or it may be part of certain pinto patterns.
Chrome is not considered in identifying the base color.
A horse may be any color or combination of colors and also have chrome - or not.
What About BAY? Because many color genes affect BAY differently than Red or Black, BAY is also considered a "Base Color" although genetically it is the result of a genetic modifier ("Agouti") on the base color Black.
White is not a hair pigment, but
rather, the complete lack of, or blocking of pigment production.
Recent research into equine DNA is making exciting discoveries into
the range and scope of the "W" series of alleles possible on the
KITS gene. Currently there are over 20 known variants, which include
most (but not all) pinto spotting patterns as well as roan and pure
Stay tuned! In the meantime,
Tapestry blog often discusses the most recent developments, as
well as in-depth exploration of all colors and color patterns.
Or, if you want a simple, easily red explanation, get
BROWN is not a color gene in itself. Brown comes about in many ways:
The most common useage of the term "Brown" in horses refers to a black horse or donkey with tan or lighter muzzle, and lighter mottling around the flanks.
Smokey Black may appear "brown."
Silver Dapples on Black creates "Chocolate"
Dark Red or Bay horses also appear "brown"
Here's a quick Pictorial Overview of all the Known Horse Color "Genes"* (*common use, not technically correct) and how they affect each Base Color: Click on a link to go to a page about that subject:
AGOUTI (BAY modifier) no effect on red; may be carried "silently" by red
Agouti On Black Creates BAY>>>
Bay can range from almost buckskin to almost black.
GREY Grey/gray is a progressive color - actually a color replacing gene.
The foal may be any color (depending on the rest of its genetics) at birth. The gray gene causes the color to be gradually replaced by white hairs, bringing the horse through a roan-ish phase, then glorious dapple gray, then lighter and lighter until the horse is either almost pure white (but with black skin) or "fleabitten" gray (white with dark freckles or specks)
The famous "White Stallions" of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, and the famous Lippizanner Stallions are grays in the final, mature white form.
"LP" - THE APPALOOSA COMPLEX: Appaloosa coloring is complex, and recent research indicates that more than one gene is at work. Appaloosa coloring is not always stable throughout life, often becoming a "varnish" pattern at maturity.
Photo: Cody Pendant
PANGARE (Mealy Factor)
Maybe Seal Brown (one theory)
Wild Type Bay
Angelo from Sinbad, Utah HMA
PEARL ("Barlink Factor")
Pearl was long thought to be just an especially shiny, metallic-looking version of Creme. Like Creme, Pearl is a mixed dominant, creating one effect if heterozygous and a more intensified effect if homozygous. Pearl can also team with other dilutions (dun, silver, champagne) to create a spectrum of effects.
Champagne & Pearl
PINTO / PAINT, WHITE and WHITE SPOTTING PATTERNS:
FRAME and SPLASH TOBIANO, SABINO, MAXIMUM WHITE, TOVERO,
ROAN, and MISCELLANEOUS WHITE SPOTTING PATTERNS are Alleles of the W
gene. Frame, Splash, and Argentian Manchado result from unrelated
Bay Rabicano showing "skunktail"
ROAN Aidan from Devils Garden, adopted by Melissa Mattis Strawberry Roan
SILVER (The fourth DILUTION Gene) AKA Silver Dapples, Taffy, Chocolate
No effect on Red; may be carried "silently" by red
Robin, owned by Marcia Grahn
SOOTY / SMUTTY Also responsible for Dappling
Chocolate / Sooty Palomino
"Silver" manes on certain palominos and flaxen chestnuts
Ponokamita, one of the "Internet Six" older South Steens studs sold under the new 2005 sale rider
Genetic agent that blocks color. A genetically White
horse has normally-colored eyes. A white horse is NOT an albino. The
various White genetic variants are also responsible for many types of