26 Common Horse Colors, Markings & Patterns

Horse Colors Markings Patterns Social

Do you know how many colors among horses, especially the number of their markings and patterns? I would like to show you 14 horse colors, 3 horse colors with patterns, and 9 horse markings in this passage.

My name is Nancy Darling, and I am interested in horse feeding and horse racing for nearly ten years. As a horse fancier, I am always curious about the variety of horse colors. And I do a lot of research on this topic.

Since ancient times, horses have been raised as a main type of transport. And horse racing is meaningful not only for entertainment but also for wars and disputes. By horse racing, the best horses would be chosen and their colors, markings, and patterns would be praised.

You may feel confused when you are trying to identify various horses with different colors, markings, and patterns. Now the most common horse colors, markings, and patterns have been presented to help you.

Common Horse Colors

When it comes to the specific horse colors, you may pay attention that each common horse color may have different variations. By focusing on the basic information of the coat color of each horse, you may be able to recognize the variations easily.


Bay Horse Color

Generally speaking, most bay horses are usually rich brown, including lighter brown or darker brown, which may remind you of milk chocolate or dark chocolate.

Besides, a bay horse would have black points across their bodies, sometimes with white facial and leg markings. And their muzzle, ears, mane, tail, and legs would appear black firstly and fade into the brown coat finally.


Black Horse Color

A truly black horse would have no other colors on its coat, besides several white markings on its face or legs. When it lives under the sun, its coat color may become bleached, being more like a brown coat. So, many people prefer to raise their black horses under the shadow.

Actually, some dark bay horses may look like black horses, but they are not truly black horses. And the majority of horse breeds could have black horses, including Friesians, Fell Ponies, Shires, and so on.


Brown Horse Color

Brown horses could have various variations from light brown to dark brown. The bodies of brown horses may be dark brown or black, with soft parts, such as the muzzle and eyebrows. Besides, there is red or golden brown around the flanks, quarters, and girth of the brown horses.


Chestnut Horse Color

Your chestnut horse may look like having a red coat. Besides, the color chestnut could be regarded as being sorrel. Although there are fully chestnut horses, most chestnut horses would be decorated with flashy white leg and face markings.


Sorrel Horse Color

In general, a sorrel horse is a copper-red horse with a red mane and tail. The chestnut can also be regarded as sorrel, for they have similar meanings. Thus, the terms sorrel and chestnut are used interchangeably on horse racing tracks. But compared to chestnut, sorrel is more commonly used in western events.


Palomino Horse Color

The Palomino horse is a kind of color breed, with a yellow or gold coat and a white or light cream mane and tail. Their beautiful appearance attracts a lot of people, and increases their popularity.

Buckskin or Dun

Buckskin Or Dun Horse Color

In general, the buckskin horses may look like tan with black manes and tails. Usually, there are black points, with black areas on the muzzles, ears, and legs of the buckskin horses. Sometimes, they would have dorsal stripes or black stripes in the center of their back.

Like buckskin, dun horses could be tan in color. Thus, it is difficult to identify the buckskin and dun if you do not know their differences. And black points would be on the body of dun horses, especially on their ears, face, and legs.

The big difference between buckskin horses and dun horses is that the latter looks more zebra with horizontal markings on their legs. Besides, there are different colors in the mane or tail of dun horses. And their manes may appear to have black, brown, or even gray in them. All duns will have a dorsal stripe.


American Cream Draft Horse Color

The cream horses may refer to cremello horses in general. As the only breed of draft horses originating in the US, the root of American Cream horses might be traced back to the early 1900s. When crossed with Percheron and Belgian stallions, the cream horses were produced with the cream coat, pink skin, and white tails and mane.


Gray Horse Color

It is not easy to identify the gray horses and white horses visually. Actually, the fur of the gray horses may look like white. But their skin is black. This is one of their features.

With time going by, the color of gray horses might alter. When they are baby horses, the gray horses may look like black or bay. And they would become white as they grow up. Besides, there are black points on the face, ears, and legs of some gray horses.

Dapple Gray

Dapple Gray Horse Color

In general, dapple gray horses are a special kind of gray horse. And they usually have lighter hair patterns crossing their bodies. Besides, the dapple patterns may look like stars or circles. The dapple gray horses could be found in the horse breeds of Andalusians, Percherons, Thoroughbreds, Lippizans, Connemaras, Welsh Ponies, and so on.


Grullo Horse Color

Grullo is a unique and beautiful color of horses, being regarded as a form of dun shades. And grullo horses are quite rare and could not be seen outside of the specific breeds.

Besides, the grullo horses usually have a sandy-gray coat color with dark legs, a dark nose, a dark mane and tail, and a dorsal stripe. And the grullo horses are mainly witnessed among specific wild horse breeds. The most common two are known as the Konik and the Tarpan.

Blue Roan

Blue Roan Horse Color

Blue roan horses are most commonly seen among the American Quarter horse breeds. Being one of the most attractive types, blue roan horses usually have black skin with white hairs. The blue roan horses could also be found among the breeds, such as Percheron, Brabant And Belgian, Welsh Pony And Cob, Paso Fino, and so on.

Red Roan

Red Roan Horse Color

Actually, roan might mean that the color of the horse skin and that of the horse hair are different. And the combination of these two different colors between the horse skin and the horse hair may result in marvelous horse color. With the combination of a chestnut base coat with white hairs, red roan is one of the best examples. They are seen in the horse breeds, such as Missouri Fox Trotter, Haflinger, Icelandic Horse, and so on.

Paint vs Pinto

Paint Vs Pinto Horse Color

Actually, Pinto horses are a specific horse breed, with paint markings across their bodies. Thus, their markings are regarded as pinto. And Pinto horses could be the horses of any color only with large white splashes over their bodies.

With different amounts of white on the body, Pinto horses could be classified into different categories of overo, tobiano, and sabino.

Common Horse Colors with Patterns

Besides coat colors, you may notice some recognizable patterns in your horse’s coat. Here are the common horse colors with patterns.

Roan and Dapples

Roan And Dapples Horse Color

Through the introduction of blue roan and red roan, you may know that roan is a color of a horse, not a breed of horse. The coat of roan horses may consist of a base color and white hairs across their bodies. Besides, there are some white hairs on their mane and tails. Typically, the head and legs of the roan horses may be the base color of their coat without the same mixed hair on the rest of their bodies.

However, it is common to notice that there are dapples on any color horse, such as bays, grays, buckskins, palominos, and so on. Being recognized as a symbol of a healthy coat, the dapples may look like circles or stars crossing the horse coats. Not every healthy horse would have dapples.

Tobiano vs Overo

Tobiano Vs Overo Horse Color

The character of the Tobiano horses may be a large white region across the topline. And with colored head, chest, and flanks, the white would extend downward to a vertical pattern. Besides, the edges of the white spots on Tabiano horses may look like regular and smooth, making the horse look as if white paint has been dropped over it.

Concerning Overo horses, they usually have four colored legs, and sometimes at least one colored leg. And a continuous region of colored hair would run along the Overo’s back, from the withers to the base of the tail. Generally, the white region would be irregular and splattered like white paint is splashed, flowing over the horse.

Appaloosa Patterns

Appaloosa Patterns Horse Color

Although Appaloosa is a horse breed, it does have special patterns across its coat. With dark Leopard spots covering its body, the pattern on the body of Appaloosa horses could be decorated by a white splash across the horse’s rump. And sometimes, there are snowflakes shaped circles on its body.

Common Horse Markings

The following common horse markings may appear on your horse. And you may find some useful information in the below list.


Bald Face Horse Marking

Being a white marking, a bald-face marking would be on the face of your horse. And it may stretch at least from eye to eye. Thus, the front of your horse’s face would be white.


Blaze Horse Marking

A blaze may look like a white flame or a white width strip located in the middle of the two eyes of your horse. The blaze may be thick but would not stretch to the eyes of your horse.


Stripe Horse Marking

At similar location, a stripe may be narrower than the blaze. And it would go down the front of your horse’s face.


Star Horse Marking

As a white marking, a star marking might look more like a spot on the forehead of your horse or between their eyes.


Snip Horse Marking

A snip would be on the nose of your horse, appearing to be a white strip. But it would not extend to the forehead of your horse.


Stocking Horse Marking

Like our stockings, the horses’ stockings may be white leg markings, extending to the bottom of their hocks. If the marking passes the hock, the horse may be a Paint Horse.


Sock Horse Marking

Compared with stockings, the socks would be shorter and only extend to the middle of your horse’s lower leg, above the fetlock but below the knee.


Pastern Horse Marking

Pastern also is a white mark. And it would be much shorter than the sock of a horse by passing the pastern of the horse and below the fetlocks.


Coronet Horse Marking

Being a thin white marking, the coronet of your horse would rest above your horse’s hoof. And it would not pass the pastern of the horse.


Common Paint Horse Colors

The colors of the paint horses are quite various, basing two main color groups: black base color group and red or chestnut base color group. Paint horses with a black base color may be black, brown, bay, buckskin, dun, perlino, or grullo. With the roan gene, the paint horse color would be interspersed with fine white hairs, creating a blue or bay roan. However, with a red base color, the paint horse color would be chestnut, cremello, palomino, red dun, red roan, or sorrel.

Common Quarter Horse Colors

It is well-known that there are various quarter horse colors around the world. And the most common color of the American Quarter Horse is sorrel, a brownish shade of red. And among the quarter horses, you could also find the color, bay, black-brown, gray, dun, roan, white Perlino, cremello, Palomino, and so on.

Common Friesian Horse Colors

In fact, most Friesian horses would be black with no white markings. While some of the Friesian horses could be born chestnut. If crossed with other breeds, the bred Friesian horse could be any colors.

Common Buckskin Horse Colors

Buckskin is a kind of horse color, being one of the most common horse colors. Thus, the Buckskin horses would have the common color of a tan or gold coat with a black mane and tail with dark lower legs.

Common Arabian Horse Colors

The color of Arabian horses may be various. And the most common colors are red, black, bay, gray, and so on. And the color of the Arabian could account for the mutations of the basic hard coat color.

Common Morgan Horse Colors

The colors of registered Morgan horses could be various. And the most common colors would be bay, black, brown, chestnut, gray, palomino, creme, dun, and buckskin. Besides, Morgans could also have pinto color patterns except for tobiano.


You might have read lots of information about horse colors, patterns, and markings above. Hope this will help you when you are trying to identify various horses.

You may realize that horse colors are closely related with horse breeds. Various horse breeds may have varied horse colors. And getting the knowledge of horse colors may help you to classify different horse breeds.

As horse fanciers, it is essential to recognize horse breeds to all of us. Thus, we should attach great importance to make out various horse colors, patterns and markings.

And it is a quite interesting journey to explore the types, reasons, or breeds behind various horse colors. I could not wait to start this trip, what about you?

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