Birdcatcher Spots

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Birdcatcher Spots

This is a discussion on Birdcatcher Spots within the Horse Colors and Genetics forums, part of the Horse Breeds, Breeding, and Genetics category
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  • Birdcatcher spots forum discussion

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    12-22-2013, 01:15 PM
Birdcatcher Spots

I have a chestnut TB and I've noticed a few white spots on her hind end. After we clipped her, I could really see them, and today I counted seven of them, all behind her shoulder. Are these birdcatcher spots? They're pretty small...

What causes these? I'm assuming it's genetic, and she has The Tetrarch several times in her pedigree. He was covered in them so is it possible that that is where she gets it from? From what I can tell her sire does not have them, but I'm not sure what her dam looks like.

Here is her pedigree for anyone who's interested: Sunny Smiles Horse Pedigree

From what I've seen, The Tetrarch is in her Northern Dancer lines (through Almahmoud), and Bold Ruler lines.

This is one of her spots:

And this is her normal color (unclipped). You can't even see them unless you know where to look:
pretty sunny2.jpg
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    12-22-2013, 01:16 PM
I don't know why it's sideways. Let me try again...

IMG_6614 (1).jpg
    12-22-2013, 03:59 PM
Small white spots and white hairs are common on chestnut horses in my experience. They could be bird catchers but IMO they seem a bit small for that. If I remember correctly bird catcher spots are believed to be caused by Sabino/some form of it.

My palomino mare had nearly identical sized tiny white spots that would just appear a couple at a time and come and go as they pleased, from her markings I believe she had Sabino but I never had her tested.
    12-22-2013, 04:19 PM
What is Sabino and how would I now if my mare had it other than getting her tested? And so her spots could just be patches of grey hair? No name for it?
    12-22-2013, 05:33 PM
Sabino is a gene that causes a white pattern. Testing is the only way to know 100% but from your mare's markings I would say it's not unlikely for her to have it. Sabino favors putting white on the hind legs before the front legs vs Splash which favors front ends first most of the time. It also tends to cause more 'jagged' type markings, where as splash causes smooth. The jagged-ness on her sock is another indicator of sabino to me.

Ah, I was trying to find a picture of my palomino's identical spots but all my pictures of them seem to have been on a different computer. Anyway, they could be small bird catchers but little bits of white ticking/hairs/tiny spots in my experience are frequent with chestnut horses.

an example of what sabino can do, this horse was tested and proved to be nSb1. It can be more extensive or more minimal as well. From what I've seen in the case of quite minimal sabinos it tends to favor back socks and stars/star/stripe combos.

a more extensive example of sabino.

When I think of bird catcher spots I tend to think of spots more like these:

I'm not a complete expert on bird catchers, so maybe one will chime in in case I got something wrong?
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    12-22-2013, 05:40 PM
There is a (very fuzzy) horse I know that in winter, only when clipped has "leopard" spots. They are slightly darker, it's odd. This horse is a dark brown.

Some of them just have odd marks here and there. I know several that have (from birth) random tiny white spots that are always white. My horse has one on his shoulder.

As said, chestnuts tend to have weird white sometimes. You said she had several? I just see one.
    12-22-2013, 05:43 PM
I always love this mare

It may be very minimal "birdcatcher spots" but since we don't really know what they are (to my understanding) it's open to interpretation.
    12-22-2013, 06:37 PM
I just have a picture of one spot. They're small and spread out. I only knew of two of them until we clipped her and then I saw a few more.

I usually think of bigger spots when I think of birdcatcher spots too which is why I asked you guys :) I never noticed weird white patches like this on other chestnuts, but like I said- they're not very obvious.

Thanks for the explanation Pyrros. I guess that could be why her start/stripe has mixed white and chestnut hairs around the edge? On her Jockey Club papers they descibed it as a "Large bordered star" and all of her markings as "irregular". She even has a teeny tiny snip on her lips. For her to be sabino I'm assuming one of her parents had to carry a gene. Is it dominant? Can a horse be sabino and not show any outward signs of it?
    12-22-2013, 08:36 PM
Sabino definitely causes roany/irregular markings most of the time, and it is a lot more common than people think. And yes, Sabino is dominant so at least one parent would have to have had it. But like I said it can kinda slip by undetected, a horse could just have a small star and have sabino.

For example, my gelding's dam was most likely sabino:

Same with this palomino mare I used to own, this is the one that often got spots just like your mare:

They would appear and disappear every few weeks.

Edit to add: Some white genes can hide almost completely, so just because a horse isn't loud colored doesn't mean something isn't hiding or otherwise lurking in there! There was a white Dominant White standardbred foal born this year or last? And if I recall both his parents were completely solid bay. The most markings one had was a tiny star or a tiny sock, I don't recall which, and the foal came out solid white save for a little bit of color between his ears.
    12-23-2013, 12:52 AM
*If* I'm correct I believe there is also a hypothetical recessive version of sabino.

IMO sabino is either the "quietest" or "loudest" pattern, and everything in between. I know other patterns hide too, but I feel it is more drastic with sabino, probably because it causes a lot of "normal markings" like a blaze.

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