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Skippy! 03-07-2009 04:56 PM

Dorsal Stripe on a Black Horse?
Hey Guys!

My reg. Paint mare, Charity, is solid black, but has a very visible dorsal stripe. Her father was a purebred Paint horse, and her mother a purebred Quarter Horse.

Here is her pedigree: Poco Lady Charity Paint

Any clues as to why she has a dorsal stripe? Maybe its something in her breeding? I don't think King or Poco Bueno had a dorsal (I LOVE King babies, so i know a bit about them) But i know a lot of people managed to get grulla horses out of King babies... so maybe he has the dorsal stripe/leg barring somewhere in his breeding.

I've seen dull dorsals on other horses too (sometimes chestnuts, palominos, etc) I've even seen a Palomino with a very visible dun stripe AND leg barring.

Anyways... Do all horses have some form of dorsal if they get sun bleached? Charity isn't really sun bleached... and if she was, wouldnt the dorsal on her back get bleached out too?

I've heard people talk about how there is no true black horse... just really really dark bays. But i'm pretty darn sure Charity is considered black. I can spot a phoney black horse in a New York minute.

I'd love any input on this that I can get! I feel all.. newbish.. for asking, LOL!

Thanks guys!!


Another picture of her taken the same day i took the dorsal picture to show you what her whole body color is like:

Flyinghigh12 03-07-2009 05:53 PM

She deffinitly looks like a bay to me, even if a horse that is all black but has a brown nose is considered brown. Do you have any pictures of her in the summer?

CloudsMystique 03-07-2009 06:16 PM

I have a theory... Some palominos have the dun gene way back in their pedigree, and it gives them a dorsal stripe. My palomino has a faint dorsal stripe and black in his tail. I'm not sure if that can happen to black horses, but I suppose it's a possibility.

Skippy! 03-07-2009 06:19 PM

I do not have any pictures of her in the Summer. I got her Feb 1st, and she will be a year old on the 28th of this month, so truth be told, she hasn't really shown her true colors yet (literally, lol). The first shed that a baby has is usually a facade coloring (from my experience).

I can -kind of- see a stocking mark on the front left leg in the picture... but im not entirely sure. Here is another picture of Charity to show why I really think she is more on the black side rather than dark dark DARK bay. This picture was taken Feb 1st.

See? The reason the other picture is so washed out is because she is standing in the sun and its picking up all her highlighs.

Thanks for the reply =)

mayfieldk 03-07-2009 06:27 PM

I don't think black horses can have a dorsal stripe--but Bays can. My Paint Bay has a dorsal stripe... My black friesian cross colt does not. She looks like a dark bay to me. ;)

Cat 03-07-2009 07:54 PM

A dorsal like that is actually countershading from the smutty gene, not from the dun gene. In addition to the countershading, the smutty gene can also act to darken the whole coat. I've seen it act so drastically to make a palomino look like a dark brown color - but the horse genetically tested as a palomino.

I suspect this horse is a bay with the smutty gene.

Skippy! 03-07-2009 08:14 PM

So is there such a thing as a black horse? Or is it indeed a myth like I had first thought? Does that mean that Black and white paints are actually all bay and white paints? I'll be interested to see how Charity looks when she sheds out this summer too, Maybe the bay factor will be more obvious.

Im not crazy though am I? She does look black in that second photo i posted of her.. right? LOL Immediately after posting the first picture i noticed the front black stockings. I had never noticed before because I had never been looking at her color, more at her build lol!

Thanks for all the helpful info guys! I am really interested in coat colors and genetics =) So this is a great discussion for me! =)

Cat 03-07-2009 08:47 PM

Where did you get "black horses are a myth" from what anyone wrote? Black horses are real and they can be genetically tested for.

You can see red tones still even in the 2nd photo. It could be sun bleaching as well. UC Davis can do a genetic test and tell you if the horse is black or bay with just a few hairs. If you are really curious that is the best way to find out for sure - winter coats can be deceiving.

Velvetgrace 03-07-2009 09:02 PM

Horse looks bay to me

Skippy! 03-07-2009 09:28 PM


A few colleagues I used to work with told me there is no true black horse, just really really dark bays. I think they figured that if a horse sunbleached it must be bay (no joke, someone actually told me a true black horse will not sunbleach.. L O L) So i've heard it both ways, that black is a color, and that it was actually bay.

I know she is sunbleached, and she has had a really rough start in life (already has scars from rain rot =/) so maybe she's black... maybe she's bay.. maybe I'll get her hair tested at UC Davis, LOL

Do you have a link to more information on UC Davis and the color test? I'd like to know how much it is =)

Thanks for your input Cat! =)

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