Horses come in a variety of unique and vivid coat colors, ranging from solid and static to multifaceted and ever-changing. A horse’s coat colors are controlled by complex genetics. For horse owners, a horse’s coat plays another important role—it’s a good indicator of his overall health. One of the rewards of taking good care of your horse is enjoying the beauty of his rich, lustrous coat.
The most common horse colors are chestnut, which is all-brown, bay, which is a brown with a black mane and tail, and grey, which is a white or grey horse. Here, we showcase some remarkable coat colors that are quite a rarity to come across.
Don’t Forget Your Sunscreen
Perlino colored horses have cream coats with pink skin and blue or light colored eyes. These horses are characterized by a cream or white mane and tail and yellow or gold coat.
The Perlino horse is best known for its cream-based coat color. Its color is produced by the action of one cream gene on a chestnut coat. We assume he must be sensitive to the sun!
The Morgan horse is one of the earliest horse breeds developed in the United States. During the 19th and 20th centuries, they were exported to other countries, including England, where a Morgan stallion influenced the breeding of the Hackney horse.
The Morgan is a compact, refined breed, generally bay, black or chestnut. This horse has strong legs, an expressive head with a straight or slightly convex profile and broad forehead. He has prominent eyes, laid back shoulders, and an upright, well-arched neck.
Leopard, or Do You Mean Dalmatian?
Appaloosa horses come in all different shapes and sizes. Leopard Appaloosas are white horses with dark spots that cover their entire bodies; this is the most desired of the Appaloosa breed. If you can’t have a dalmatian puppy or a pet leopard why not?
The coat color of a Leopard Appaloosa is a combination of a base color with an overlaid spotting pattern. Spots overlay darker skin and are often surrounded by a “halo,” where the skin next to the spot is also dark but the overlying hair coat is white. Although named leopard for their spots we think they resemble dalmatians.
Dipped in Chocolate
The American Paint horse is one of the largest breeds in North America.
Each Paint Horse has a particular combination of white and another color of the equine spectrum. This is called a splash overo pattern.
Each Paint Horse has a particular combination of white and another color of the equine spectrum. Most common are horses with white spots combined with black, brown, bay chestnut or sorrel. We think he’ll look just fine with a cherry on top!
Brindle horses are quite rare — much rarer than their spotted appaloosa friends. The brindle pattern, which appears as stripes on their coat is what makes this horse unique. Brindle coloring consists of irregular stripes extending vertically over the horse’s body and horizontally around the legs.
Brindle horses can also have a dorsal stripe. Brindliing usually does not affect the head and legs as much as the body, with the heaviest concentrations of brindle patterns on the neck, shoulders, and hind areas.
The Sensitive Spaniard
The Andalusian horse is also known as the pure Spanish horse, originated from the Iberian Peninsula.Strongly built, and compact yet elegant, Andalusians have long, thick manes and tails.
They are known for their intelligence, sensitivity, and docility. Their most common coat color is gray although they can be found in many other colors. This one happens to have a silver dapple gene giving it a spotted silver and grey effect.
Sweet As a Strawberry
There are many different types of roan horses, and they are all unique, especially this Strawberry Roan. Also referred to as a Red Roan, it looks like a version of the Strawberry Shortcake ice cream you can buy at the market.
The markings on the Roan mix with white splashes which make for a special touch. The base coat is intermixed with white hairs throughout the coat making the horse a light reddish color. The strawberry coloring can be described as a pinkish color of a light chestnut or sorrel roan.
A Special Kind of Nut
Chestnut is a very common coat color but with a wide range of shades. This color can be seen in almost every breed of horse, the chestnut color is characterized by the absolute absence of black hairs.
Liver Chestnuts are different from other chestnut horses because they have a reddish-to-brown coat with a mane and tail lighter in color than their coat.
Gray Is the New Black
Dapple Gray horses characterized by progressive silvering of the colored hairs of the coat. This horse has a dappled coat with white intermingled hairs.
Graying of a horse can occur at different rates—very quickly on one horse and very slowly on another. We think the grey patterns give a pretty cool tye dye look!
This is a gold champagne horse. The champagne gene affects a horse’s skin rather than its coat. The color of the skin is the single most important visual identifier of champagne horses. Champagne coats often have an unusual sheen.
If a horse inherits the champagne gene from either or both parents, a coat that would be chestnut instead will become champagne. A horse must have at least one champagne parent to inherit the champagne gene. Cheers to that!
The Dutch Are Always Tall
The Dutch Warmblood is a fairly modern breed. Most Dutch Warmbloods are black, brown, bay chestnut or gray and white markings on the face and legs are common.
Dutch Warmblood horses usually stand over 16 hands, with some reaching 17 hands. They are athletic horses, with sloping shoulders, giving them longer necks and shorter backs than the native Dutch breeds.
For Your Knight in Shining Armor
This horse breed originated in the Netherlands. It was believed that during the Middle Ages ancestors of Friesian horses were used as war horses. Their size enabled them to carry knights in armor.
Though the breed nearly became extinct on more than one occasion, the modern-day Friesian horse is growing in numbers and popularity. The Friesian breed is most often recognized by its black coat color, however, Friesians are occasionally chestnut.
The Barbie of the Horse World
Palominos have long lustrous platinum blonde hair, and they have a golden tan like Barbie too. Palominos owe their golden brown coat and blonde or white mane and tail coloring to the cream gene.
Their coat is actually a genetic variation on a chestnut coat, but full chestnut coats are much more common than palomino coats. Some palominos can be a dark caramel color while others are blonder.
A Little Bit of Everything
Silver Dapple Sooty Buckskin carries a combination of three different gene elements. The different genes make up several variations of beautiful colors. Silver is a dominant gene acts on black pigments by lightening them. They carry dark coats with lighter spots throughout.
The sooty genetic modification in which dark shading occurs along the back, shoulder, and croup, resulting in a horse that’s dark on top and light underneath Their tails are dark and pretty much the same color as their manes.
The Arabian horse originated on the Arabian Peninsula is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. It is also one of the oldest breeds in the world. Throughout history, Arabian horses have spread around the world by both war and trade.
Today, Arabian bloodlines are found in almost every modern breed of riding horse. These horses have refined, wedge-shaped heads, a broad forehead, large eyes, large nostrils, and small muzzles. Many Arabians also have a slight forehead bulge between their eyes.
The Clydesdale breed of horse derived from the farmhouses of Clydesdale in Scotland. Although originally one of the smaller breeds of draught horses, it is now a tall breed.
The breed was originally used for agriculture and haulage and is still used for draught purposes today. They are usually bay in color and most have white markings on the face, feet legs, and lower belly.
A Light in the Dark
Grullo Dun horses are characterized by tan-gray or mouse-colored hairs on the body, often with shoulder and dorsal stripes and black barring on the lower legs. In this coloration, each individual hair is mouse-colored which is composed of a mixture of dark and light hairs that have a silvery sheen.
These horses are gray or tan-gray body color. They are but are also characterized by a dark face, dark mottling on the body, leg barring, dark ear tips and edging, dark ear barring, dark shadowing of the neck, dark dorsal and transverse striping, and light guard hairs bordering a dark mane and tail.
Spot Me If You Can
The Pinto horse is extremely common in America; this horse is identified by its distinctive colors. The colorful coat pattern is essential to the identity of its breed. Spots can be any shape or size and located virtually anywhere on the Paint’s body.
Although Pintos come in a variety of colors with different markings and different underlying genetics, these are grouped into only four defined coat patterns overo, tobiano, tovero and solid.
Horses with the roan pattern have an even mixture of white and colored hairs in the coat. Blue Roans have a dark underlying coat that gives it a bluish cast. The head, legs, mane, and tail have fewer scattered white hairs or none at all.
The coat may lighten or darken from winter to summer, but unlike the gray coat color, which also begins with intermixed white and colored hairs, roans do not become progressively lighter in color as they age. The silvering effect of mixed white and colored hairs can create coats that look bluish.
All That Glitters is Gold
The Akhal-Teke horse is a breed from Turkmenistan. The gold coat is what makes them known as golden horses. The Akhal-Teke breed is best known for its stunning natural metallic sheen.
Their glow is caused by the fineness, or even absence, of the opaque core that is typically at the center of the hair strand. The transparent part of the hair takes up the extra space and acts like a fiber optic tube, bending light through one side of the hair and diverting it out the other side.
Wearing a Unique Gene
Sabino is a group of white spotting patterns in horses that affect the skin and hair. Spotting is always white and it’s produced by a specific gene known as the Sabino 1 gene for which there is a DNA test.
Sabino patterning is visually recognized by roaning at the edges of white markings found throughout the entire body. Their coats are also known to have belly spots and irregular face markings. Some Sabinos have patches of roan patterning on part of the body, mostly on the barrel and flanks. Some sabinos may have a dark leg or two, but many have four white legs.
The Quarter horse is an American breed of horse and is the most popular breed of horse in the U.S. This horse is known for its sprinting ability. There are two main body types: the stock type and the hunter or racing type. The stock horse type is shorter, more compact, stocky and muscular.
The horse shown here has a paint coat. Quarter horses come in nearly all colors. The most common color is sorrel, a brownish red, part of the color group called chestnut.
A Touch of Ginger
The Red Roan Quarter horse is essentially a redhead, with a ginger mane and tail. This one, Identified as a Quarter horse because of its muscular hind end. It is solid colored with some white hairs on its chestnut base coat, this makes the horse a pinkish tone.
These scattered white hairs are more dispersed or absent on the horse’s head, mane, tail, and lower legs. The unaffected color on the legs often forms a sharp, inverted “V” above the knee and hock. The non-white background coat may be any color, as determined by unrelated genetic factors.
The Fairy Tale Horse
This horse is a Friesian-Gypsy Vanner crossbreed. The Gypsy Vanner is a beautiful breed from Ireland. The Gypsies of Great Britain bred this horse for over half a century to create the perfect horse to pull their caravans.
This breed features feathering and long hair on the legs. they are known for a brisk, high-stepping trot. Because of their striking appearance these horses are often used in movies and television, particularly in historic and fantasy dramas.
Just a Spot
Appaloosas have a wide range of body types within the breed, stemming from the influence of multiple breeds of horses throughout its history. Each horse’s color pattern is genetically the result of various spotting patterns overlaid on top of one of several recognized base coat colors.
The coat color of an Appaloosa is a combination of a base color with an overlaid spotting pattern. The unique group of spotting patterns on these horses are called the “leopard complex.”
An American Standard
The Standardbred was developed in North America and is best known for its ability in harness racing. The Standardbred is recognized worldwide, and the breed can trace its bloodlines to 18th-century England. They are solid, well-built horses with good dispositions.
In addition to harness racing, the Standardbred is also used for horse shows and leisurely riding. They are most often black, brown, bay and other colors such as chestnut, gray, and roan.
Acid Washed Blue Genes
This Blue Roan Tobiano horse features several unique features. The Tobiano is a spotted color pattern commonly seen in American Paint horses, produced by a dominant gene.
The Tobiano gene produces white-haired, patches on a base coat color. We call this horse blue because white hairs give a blue cast to the black background. The horse shows that acid washed can be a trend year round!
The Akhal-Teke is one of the rarest horse breeds and is believed to be at least 3,000 years old. The horse is the national emblem of Turkmenistan, where the breed originated. The Akhal-Teke is even featured on their coat of arms, banknotes, and stamps!
What makes this horse so unique is that its coat is so fine and silky that it gives a special metallic sheen to any color base coat. A cream gene is a dilution gene which produces its perlino color.
Better Than Your Car
The Mustang is a free-roaming horse of the American West, descended from horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Mustangs are often referred to as wild horses.
These wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West. Mustangs of all types are known for having endurance and confidence and are unlikely to stumble or slip. This horse comes in all coat colors.
The Newest Addition to the USA
The Knabstrupper is a Danish breed of horse introduced in 1812. Coat patterns range from solid to a full leopard-spotted coat, with many variants in between. The spotted coat is caused by a genetic mutation called the “leopard complex,” this gene also found in Appaloosa horses.
This is interesting because the two breeds were developed independently. Knabstruppers are a relatively new breed to North America; it was not until 2002 that they were introduced from Europe. This horse looks even closer to a dalmatian than the Appaloosa horse!
Do You Like My Socks?
A Buckskin horse is a horse with a tan body and a black mane and tail. This Silver Buckskin has a genetic mutation of the silver gene. The silver gene affects the black base coat color.
This horse has darker legs, which is also characteristic of normal buckskins. Traditional buckskin horses with tan bodies also have darker markings on a horse’s legs, which gives the appearance of socks!
The Quarter is Back!
The Quarter Horse has a small, short, refined head with a straight profile, and a strong, well-muscled body, featuring a broad chest and powerful, rounded hindquarters. They usually stand between 14 and 16 hands.
The most common color for quarter horses is sorrel, a brownish red, part of the chestnut color category. In the past spotted color patterns were excluded, but now DNA testing is used to verify breed origins.
Cream of the Crop
This beauty is called a Cremello Lusitano Stallion. Creamello horses are not white horses. This horse has a cream gene lightens the coat, skin and eye colors.
Cremellos are homozygous cream chestnuts and have a cream colored body with a cream or white mane and tail. We think she shines brighter than a platinum ring!
This horse’s unique color is due to the silver dapper gene. Silver dilution is a dominant trait, so in order to inherit the trait, a horse requires only one parent to carry and pass on the gene.
Dilution by the silver gene on a horse with a uniform black base typically involves lightening of the mane and tail and a dilution of the body color. The spotty grey shades give this horse a very unique look.
Paint It Black
Here is another example of an American Paint horse. But this time painted black with almost the same pattern as a cow! In order to be considered a Paint, a horse must also exhibit a “natural paint marking.”
This means the horse must have a predominant hair coat color with at least one contrasting area of solid white hair of the required size with some underlying unpigmented skin present on the horse at the time of its birth. Paint breed shows are commonplace in the U.S.
The Most Resilient Horse of All
When most people hear “Akhal-Teke,” they probably think of the breed’s archetypical glittering gold color. But Akhal-Tekes come in a wide variety of colors. They are thought to be one of the oldest existing horse breeds. The ancestors of the breed date back to animals living 3,000 years ago
They are robust and resilient; these horses have adapted to live in severe climatic conditions of the Turkmenistan lands, where they developed to survive without much food or water. The breed is known for its endurance.
The Arabian Prince
For thousands of years, Arabian horses lived and traveled with the desert tribes of the Arabian Peninsula, bred by the Bedouins. In these harsh desert conditions, the Arabian evolved a large lung capacity and incredible endurance.
As a result, these horses developed a close affinity to man and high intelligence. The Bedouins maintained the purity of the breed because of limited resources, breeding practices were extremely selective. This eventually led the Arabian to become a prized possession throughout the world.
The Bashkir horse originated in the region previously known as Bashkiria, in Russia. It is a small sized draft horse with a curly coat. Its curly coat makes it easy for the horse to survive in cold regions. The winter coat is very thick which is used in weaving.
The Bashkir mares are used heavily for milk production from April to August every year. It is one of the top producers of milk every year. Their horse coats come in chestnut, brown, bay, grey, dun and roan.
The Marwari Horse is a rare breed of horse from Marwar, a region of India. This horse is known for its inward turning ear tips. its ears are medium-sized and curving inward so that the tips meet and can rotate 180 degrees.
The facial profile is slightly Roman with a slender neck and they generally have a long back. Marwaris come in all equine colors. Gray horses of this breed tend to be the most valuable and the horses that have white markings and four white socks are considered lucky.
Ombre in Style
We all know the ombre look for hair is trending, but this horse wears it with style! The Haflinger horse is a small sturdy horse which originated in Austria and Italy. They come in a variety of chestnut colors ranging from light gold to a rich golden chestnut or liver hue.
The name Haflinger comes from the village of Hafling in Northern Italy. They have flaxen tails and manes, lighter than the color of the horse.
The Punk Rocker
The Fjord is one of the oldest horse breeds. They originated in the mountainous region of Norway and it is believed that the Vikings also used these horses at that time. They are small draft horses but are very strong and willing to work.
Most Fjords are brown dun in color, but they can be found in lighter or darker shades such as red dun, gray, white dun, yellow dun. What makes this horse unique is its beautiful upright black and cream mane.
The Most Unique Horse Breed of All
The Akhal Teke is believed to be one of the oldest surviving and purest of horse breeds. The Akal Teke is a descendant of the ancient Turkoman horse that originated from Asia and was used in war by nomadic tribes.
These horses have flexible long, slim necks, set high out of the shoulders, and its eyes often are hooded and oriental in appearance. Although often seen with a gold-tone, these horses come in a variety of striking, unique and unusual colors. This one almost has an opalescence sheen to its coat.
The Cold Blooded Swede
The North Swedish horse is a relatively new breed, which originated from Sweden. It is small yet heavy and is one of the few cold-blood (slower, gentle and calm disposition) breeds used in harness racing.
They were traditionally used in Sweden for agricultural and forestry work and often equestrian activities. The most common colors for North Swedish horses are blackish brown, smoky, and yellowish black. Regardless of the coldblooded title, we know they have a warm heart.
The Show Off
This Peruvian Paso stallion is a stunning black beauty. Peruvian horse is one of the smoothest riding horses in the world. It is also one of the showiest of all horses because of their pride and energy. They travel with a style as if they are on display for all to see.
They are known for striking color tones and shades. The coat color can be varied seen in chestnut, black, bay, brown, palomino gray, roan or dun. Solid colors are the most desirable. The mane is lustrous, fine and long.
The Portuguese Stunner
This horse is a Sorraia Stallion. The Sorraia is an ancient breed from the Sorraia river basin in Portugal. It is known for its primitive features, including a convex profile and dun coloring with primitive markings. They are usually dun in color or a dun variation called grullo.
Their primitive markings often include a dorsal stripe, black tipped ears, and horizontal striping on the legs and muzzle area. Sorraia horses usually have bi-colored manes and tails with lighter colored hairs that fringe the outside of the longer growing black hair.
The Warmest Coat
It’s no mystery why these horses are equipped with some of the warmest thickest coats since they originate from one of the coldest areas on the planet. The Icelandic breed was developed in Iceland. They are traditionally used for sheep herding as well as leisure, showing and racing.
Although very small in size, (only 13-14 hands) because of their weight, bone structure and carrying abilities they are classified as a horse rather than a pony. The breed comes in many coat colors such as chestnut, dun, black gray, palomino, paint, and roan. Their manes and tails are full with thick, coarse hair and they have a double coat for extra insulation in cold temperatures.
This horse, an Akhal Teke Stallion, is too beautiful not to mention again! The exotic Akhal Teke is one of the remarkable horse due to not only it’s color variation buts its ancient history. This is the golden horse of the desert.
It is thought to be a direct descendant of the extinct Turkoman horse and was selectively bred by Turkmenistan tribesman for long desert rides. The horse is known for its speed and endurance when conducting desert raids.