Sorrel or Chestnut?

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Sorrel or Chestnut?

This is a discussion on Sorrel or Chestnut? within the Horse Breeds forums, part of the Horse Breeds, Breeding, and Genetics category
  • Red chestnut horse
  • Western chestnut horse

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    12-09-2009, 08:31 PM
Green Broke
Sorrel or Chestnut?

Is there really a difference between sorrel and chestnut? I always thought that they were the same thing, but one of my horsey friends today was saying that they are two different colors, that a sorrel has flaxen mane and that a chestnut does not. So what is the there a difference? Or is it just like different breed registries call it different things?
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    12-09-2009, 09:00 PM
Super Moderator
Yes. There is a difference. I used to think Sorrel was the western description and chestnut was for english! I argued with an old-timer forever and he finally asked the vet. I was proven wrong! LOL... (the argument started because I thought my horse was a chestnut). He's a deep red w/ a matching mane. I believe the chestnut has lighter tips.
    12-09-2009, 09:37 PM
So, genetically they are the same thing, but here is a link talking about it.

Chestnut and Sorrel
    12-10-2009, 01:00 AM
Yep, ^^ Smoothtrails is right. Genetically, they are the same thing as there are only 2 base coats for all horses; red and black. It is the little modifiers that separate chesnut and sorrel. Also, what you call a horse may also depend on what area of the world you are in or how you grew up.

The way that I always understood it is that the lighter colored horses are sorrel and the darker, deeper ones are chesnut.

I call these horses sorrel

And I would consider these horses chesnut.

    12-10-2009, 01:12 AM



And then Flaxen- (like a brighter sorrel or more pronounced sorrel)

So definitely different colours
    12-10-2009, 01:35 AM
Lilly of course is considered chestnut by the arabian registry, however I think she is a sorrel as does most everyone who sees her. Her growing winter coat makes her darker, but from other photos I've seen of her in the summer she is very bright and, well...sorell-y. *shrugs* It's almost as if she has orange-ish/golden tones. This photo of her in mid-shake doesn't show it, but her mane is lighter...although her tail is two-toned and I wouldn't exactly call it flaxen. Idk

I too tend to think of chestnuts as a darker brown.
    12-10-2009, 01:43 AM
Just shows you the difference. I would call Lilly a chesnut. I think that some registries call all red horses sorrel and other registries call all red horses chesnut, don't they?
    12-10-2009, 01:46 AM
Lol, just like most everything else in the one can seem to agree 100% on everything. :p

I'm not even 100% sure what I think Lilly is! Eh. It really does depend on the region.
    12-10-2009, 09:30 AM
Green Broke
On my mare's ApHC papers it says she is chestnut or sorrel which is what started the debate with my friend, on my other mare's AQHA papers it says that she is chestnut but my friend was saying that she should be called sorrel since she is so light, but her mane is the same color as the rest of her. I guess I agree with XivoShowjumper in that I would consider a sorrel to have a lighter mane and a chestnut to be all one color.
    12-10-2009, 10:05 AM
Super Moderator
If we go off that, then my horse is a chestnut... but the vet describes him as a sorrel......?????
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