A REFERENCE GUIDE: Arabian Coat Coloration.
Arabian horses of unusual colors have long been discriminated against and thought to be impure. With today’s technology, blood typing
has made these foolish rumors a thing of the past. Some of the most flamboyant patterns and shades were not thought impure in the desert but
were actually sought after. One of the Abbas Pasha’s most celebrated mares was Faris Saouda, a parti-color (wildly spotted) horse. This ancient gene is not
a sign of impurity but exactly the opposite. The true parti-color is not a common spotting pattern as seen today, but instead is the failure of pigmentation
cells to spread throughout the body of the horse, a unique mutation occurring mostly in hotbloods. The Abbas Pasha set great store by this color and
collected 11 mares with these attributes. Faris Saouda can be found in most of the bloodlines available in the U.S. today.
Black can come in several shades: Jet black, raven black, blue black, and summer black. Desert Name-Aswad Serr Ebony Star, a non-fading homozygous black stallion. He has never sired a chestnut, and most of the mares he has been bred to are chestnut. The true black, with no brown in the ears, muzzle, or flanks, has always been rare but is becoming more popular due to many breeding programs that have bred into certain lines known to produce the color. Egyptian breeding is the most prolific of the black coloration through the mare Venus, root mare of the Hadban Enzahi strain and the stallion Dahman. Dahman was the sire of Rabdan, who appears three times in the fifth generation of Nazeer’s pedigree and is the grandsire of *Fadl. Polish black Arabians are represented through the line of the desertbred Kuhailan Haifi.
Chestnut is a loose term for horses of reddish tint with no black points, which appears in many shades as well. The mane and tail color of the chestnut group appears to be polygenic (not controlled by a single gene). Most mane and tail colors of the chestnut coloration group can be divided into four types: Dark, red, light, and flaxen. Desert Name-Ashqar Washy bay refers to a horse that could almost appear to be chestnut as the points of the legs, mane, and tail are neither black nor chestnut but a “washy” reddish color with a few intermingling black hairs. In most cases, this washy bay is actually a bay whose black points fade with exposure to sunlight, giving the bay the misleading appearance of being a chestnut.
White - The white horse, born white with black skin, is the result of abnormal action of the grey factor in which the basic color of the coat has been entirely replaced before birth. These foals are born in what would otherwise be considered the adult coat phase. MS Czarthan AHR#44054 was one of these rare and unique horses. Desert Name-Abyad.
The grey Arabian can start with any basic coat color, but is most common with dark horses. With the exception of the rose grey (a red
chestnut that greys from the base coat to give it a rosy color), most greys go through several darkening phases where the horse eventually becomes near
black before turning grey. It is impossible to tell what color the base coat of the horse actually was unless it was viewed as a foal.
There are two basic types of grey: Those that lose pigment in the mane and tail and become white, known by the Desert Name-Safra bardah, and
those that retain some black in the mane, tail, and sometimes the legs, Desert Name-Safra el jahra. Both types maintain the black skin pigment. Another form
of grey is the fleabitten in which small flecks of color are viewed throughout the coat. These flecks are usually reddish but can sometimes be black or
both. These colored flecks in no way represent the base color of the horse. Desert Name-Marshusha.
The rare palomino color is not a true palomino in Arabians but a phase of chestnut that is born lightened by shade. This rare yellow color was highly prized by the Arabs. Desert Name-Asfar
The buckskin, similar to the palomino, is a lighter phase of the bay but not a true buckskin. The Arabian does not carry the dilution gene and suffers no loss of skin pigment with either of these phases. The light-tailed bay with a tan-colored tail is a unique occurrence sometimes seen in young horses. As the horse ages the black tail hairs appear until the tail is the regular black color.
The true lustrous red roan is seldom seen today. This is a permanent color and not a phase of grey. Roaning covers the entire body of the horse, giving a silvery appearance. Roaning in the coat is a dominant factor and should never skip a generation. Even in horses that are slightly roaned there will always be a few white hairs in the coat. This gene in Arabians is also an ancient trait. Desert Name-Maward (Here a controversy arises in that color genetic experts are now saying that the Arabian carries no true roaning gene and that the unique roaning look of the Arabian is caused by the silver dapple, white, or sabino genes. To avoid confusion, we will continue to use the term roan in this work. Flecks or ticking at the flanks and tail base thought to be associated with the roan may be present at birth or can be developed later. These are also permanent patterns and occur in all color horses.
In the white dock, there is a fall of white hair starting at the tail base. This is usually referred to as skunk tail or rabicano, and
is believed to be a type of sabino gene. Belly spots and body patches can be either clean-cut, ragged-edged, or roaned-edged but all have underlying white
skin. These spots are ancient in origin and can be of any size. They are present at birth and are permanent. This sabino mutation occurs when the binding
effect of certain enzymes is lacking.
The Phenomenon of White Markings
It is universally believed that the original horse was a drab littledun-colored fellow with a bay-type coat that could vary slightly as a camouflage measure according to the area in which he lived. If you were an artist setting out to paint this little creature and you had only the primary colors and black and white, which ones would you use? The answer is, all of them. The basic coat color of the dawn horse contained all the colors of today’s modern horses, and somewhere over the course of time, these colors separated into the glorious variations seen in the coat patterns of today.
Other related articles found in Arabian Horse Interactive:
Do you doubt that grey covers a myriad of "sins"? See below...
Equine Color Genetics (2nd Edition)
by D. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, PhD is a professor of pathology and genetics at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Blacksburg, Va. His primary research interest is in genetic control of color in horses, sheep, goats and dogs. Dr. Sponenberg is also active in efforts to conserve rare breeds of livestock.
Overo spotting patterns have only recently been investigated as to their genetic control. They are dominant, but were previously reputed to be recessive. Part of the confusion over these patterns results from the fact that all three, frame, sabino, and splashed white, are frequently lumped together, when in fact each is distinct. At this point, the prudent course is to rely on the specific name for each pattern, while relying on overo (when meaning "non-tobiano), which is what the term has come to mean. (pg. 66)
|Sabino: Definition and Classification
Another of the overo patterns, called sabino in this guide, has a hopelessly confusing terminology. (pg. 67)
The specific pattern referred to as sabino in this guide is variously called sabino, calico, speckled, flecked or particolored. In the Welsh Pony, flecked and roaned sabino horses with minimal pattern on the body are called "with roaning" as in "bay with roaning". (pg. 68)
The sabino pattern usually involves extensive leg white and facial white. Body spots are usually on the belly, and can either occur as roan areas, speckled areas, or rarely as white patches with clean, crisp edges. Most sabinos are flecked or roaned, and this is especially true in horses with extensive spotting. On extremely white sabinos, color remains as roan or speckled areas on the ears, tail base, flanks, and chest. Some sabinos are solid white, although most have at least some color on the ears. The minimal pattern is simply extensive white marks, and is easily missed as being a paint pattern. Some sabino horses have whole or partial blue eyes. (pg. 68)
The sabino pattern is confusing and has been poorly studied. Accurate identification of minimally marked individuals can be difficult, and has contributed to this confusion. Minimally marked sabino individuals lack body spots and have only white socks and lots of facial white. Such animals are almost never classified as spotted, but are capable of producing spotted offspring. (pg. 69)
Sabino: Genetic Control.
The sabino allele (Sbs) behaves in many cases as though it is a single gene. Recently it has been documented that overo patterns (probably sabino, frame, and splashed white all lumped together as overo) behave as if they are the result of dominant alleles in the Paint breed. Some few instances of lethal white foals have occurred from intermating sabinos, although in other instances white foals produced by such matings have been viable. (Pg. 69)
To further confuse the issue, the current sabino classification may itself include a few genetically distinct patterns, much as the overo classification includes frame, sabino, and splashed white. (pg. 69)
The production of lethal white in addition to viable white foals from sabino breeding also is an indication that more than one genetic mechanism may be operational. For these reasons, it is suspected that the sabino classification includes two or three distinct patterns. If this is true, these are expected to be genetically distinct from one another. (pg. 70)
|Splashed White: Definition and Classification
Splashed white has a somewhat restricted range in a few breeds such as Welsh Pony, Finnish Draft Horses, and Paint horses. It can occur as a very rare surprise in a number of other, generally sold-colored breeds. It can easily be confused with lightly roaned or lightly speckled sabinos. In North America, most horses that appear to be splashed white are really cleanly marked sabinos, which lack the roaning and speckling that usually accompanies common manifestations of sabino. Differences between splashed white and sabino horses can be subtle, and the result is that some horses are nearly impossible to identify accurately unless parents or progeny are inspected, as they can shed light on which pattern is present. (pg. 70)
Splashed White: Genetic Control.
Splashed white is rare, but may be occurring more commonly in the Paint breed in North America. It has been studied in some European populations such as the Welsh Pony and the Finnish Draft Horse, and the prevailing hypothesis was that it was a recessive pattern. However, Dr. Ann Bowling's recent work with overo patterns indicates that the splashed white pattern is actually due to a dominant gene (Spls). Homozygotes have not been documented, which is similar to the cases for frame and sabino alleles. (Pg. 70)
|General Consideration of "Overo" Genetics
A major problem that has confused recognition of the frame, sabino and splashed white patterns as arising from dominant genes is that they frequently pop up out of parents that do not have body spots. This phenomenon occurs with the frame, sabino, and splashed white patterns. Some such unexpected spotted horses are no doubt new mutations to these alleles. However, some probably result from the persisitence of minimally marked horses that have the genetic machinery for one of the spotting patterns, but are not themselves expressing body spots. These minimally marked horses do persist in registered populations, such as the American Quarter Horse and Welsh Pony, in which body spots would eliminate them from registration. Only when body spots appear do breeders take note, at which point the patterns seem to have come from nowhere. A close look at ancestors, though, will usually reveal an extensive leg or head mark that betrays the presence of one of these spotting genes. When spotted horses, from nonspotted parents, are themselves used for breeding they do consistently produce the patterns in the same manner as would be expected from dominant genes.
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