If you consider linguistic differences, racial and even regional differences, it is possible to exceed the mark of 2,500 different nomenclatures of horse coats
Gray, sorrel, black, bay, palomino, pampa, cream…These are just some of the most common horse coats, that define the colour of the animal’s skin, fur, mane, and tail. The variability and combination of different coats give horses great diversification and, above all, beauty.
There is a great variety in the denomination of coats, being found, around the world, more than 2,500 different nomenclatures to determine each coat and its variations. Obviously, when considering the geographic regionalisms and the language of each country.
It is worth remembering that even within the same language there are different denominations of the different types of horse coats. As an example, in Brazil, while breeders in the southeast consider that an animal has a brown sorrel coat, breeder from Rio Grande do Sul may claim that, in fact, it is a coloured coat.
The value of the coat
Flavio Rafael Monteiro, veterinarian, and horse breeder at Haras Imperial, explains that, despite the performance of a horse in competitions being the most relevant factor for it to reach high market values, there are also other factors that can add value to the animal. This is the case with coat colour.
“In some breeds the colour of the coat is even one of their characteristics, as in the Friseans where practically all the breeds are black or in the Appaloosa breed that is easily identified by their white horse with spot all over their body or others that have a kind of white blanket with spots in the region above the croup. Paint Horses, on the other hand, emerged precisely due to a coat colour pattern. As Quarter Horses that had excess white spots on their bodies were not registered, a new association was created to register these spotted horses.”
Normally, still according to Monteiro, the rarest coats are the ones that reach the highest value, in contrast to the more common ones. But even this value of coats varies from breed to breed. “In the Pure Blood Lusitano, and we are only talking about the coat’s aspect here, greys are the common and have the lowest add value, while in the Quarter Horses, the coat of lesser value is that of sorrel horses, also the most frequent. Black, bay and Palomino horses had Always a good market acceptance”, he adds.
In addition, the veterinarian explains that some genes give a more exotic appearance and end up providing a greater value to the animal. “This is the case of splash whites (better known as “white faces”) and silvers, among others. In painted horses, (which have white spots mixed in with their base color) existing in Paint Horse, Mangalarga, Campolino, etc. breeds, even the distribution of these spots can interfere with the horse’s value. It is as each horse is an exclusive work of art and the market will respond directly to those who have a better harmony in the distribution of colours”.
But, in the same way that some coats can add value to the animal, others can be related to health problems. Monteiro says that, often, these deficiencies are minimal, but breeders and owners need to be aware of this “Cremelos and perlinos can be more sensitive to very intense and continuous exposure to the sun. Splash whites may have partial deafness, Silvers, visual impairment. Greys have a high incidence of melanoma throughout their lives and animals with double Gene Overo (one of the spotted varieties) end up dying soon after birth.”
Knowledge about genetics is essential for successful horse breeding, interfering with the health, performance, and economic value of the animals. In this sense, the genetics of the coats is intertwined with the process of genetic improvement, in which possibilities and probabilities are worked out.
Vetnil, an animal health laboratory committed to provide solution for the health and well-being of horses, is proud to contribute the knowledge of professionals in the area and to support various breeds through sponsorship of events. With approximately 78 products in its portfolio, including supplements and medicines for equids, the company is happy to observe the improvement in the technical quality of Brazilian equine farming.
Photograph granted by @haras_imperial.
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