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I have a nine year old "true black" gelding. Most summers he sun-bleaches a bit, acquiring a reddish sheen to shoulders, hips and back. This year he is the most sun-bleached I've ever seen! And it's not red...it's like a yellow, dun kind of color and it is over a larger part of his body then I've ever seen before! I want my black horse back...and I don't know what's causing this weird color change. Here's what's different for him this summer: he's in a pasture that is all dry now and devoid of grass - just weed cover. He's out a lot but not different than in the past. Still gets normal amount of high quality grass hay, oats and sweet feed. I ride him a lot - so he does get hosed off regularly to remove sweat, more than in years past. I try not to shampoo because I don't want to strip the oil from his coat. However - I do notice he is not as glossy as he's been in the past - but is this because of the new weird color or is he being hosed off too much? Could it be from eating weeds? I've put him in his stall for a while...and am moving him soon to a beautiful pasture with real grass and not weed coverage. Thanks for any suggestions, ideas, etc....
 

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I would guess that it's just that he's getting older, like in people hair can change colors and texture. Have you tried the supplement Dark As Night? The company's Bright As Sun works well on my red dun, so I would think the Dark As Night would also work well, good luck!
 

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Welcome to the lovely world of sun fading.
Supplements may work, depending on the horse.
If you want to blanket him, getting a fill neck sheet that reduces UV rays is going to be your best bet next to stabling during the day and turning out at night.
Keeping his coat out of the sun is the only way to stop fading.

In past years was he turned out on pasture? Is your hay quality good? Does he have access to clean, fresh water and salt and mineral blocks at all times?
 

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A true black will not fade to the orange/yellow color. My smokey black mare will sun bleach to the yellowish color if we have a very hot summer. My true black gelding only bleaches in the tack areas.
 

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It seems the genetic horse color sites say that a true black will always be jet black, that they do not fade from sun exposure. Whether that is true in practice, I do not know, but at any rate, I would suspect it is age, but it might be a diet change. Hormones or anything might do it, as someone else said, this happens to people. No suggestions though.
 

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There are two types of 'true blacks'. The fading type, and the not fading type. Unlucky, looks liek you have the fading type!
 

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Have a horse that is "true black" does not mean that it won't fade. In order for the horse to not fade, it has to have the non-fading black gene, which is a recessive gene. Fading is very common in black horses, especially when exposed to the elements. The fact that your horse has sun bleached in the past pretty regularly, means that he has the fading black gene, and therefore requires a fair amount of effort if you want to keep his fading down to a minimum. Definately using some of the colour enhancing shampoos will help a bit, and I think that there is some type of shampoo that is supposed to help keep the coat from burning as bad in the sun. I had a true black horse that had the non-fading gene, and even at 35, he never bleached or burned out any of his black coloring, but most other horses I've seen that are true black, fade. Wish I could be of more help. BTW, I got my information out of a great book called Horse Color Explained by Jeanette Gower.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Wow, and thanks to all who responded. I never knew that about the different genes for coat color, true black color, etc... I have heard about the color enhancing shampoos and may give those a try. Interestingly enough, I recently moved this black horse (along with his buddies) to a beautiful 5 acre pasture I have leased (I just lucked out and am totally grateful) and his coat is looking darker! Someone mentioned in one of the responses about food and water quality. Where I had him (and the others) boarded, the place was really nice but often the water tank out in the pasture was really gross. I had complained and they cleaned it up a little but not the way I would of. My hay was also not as good as the year before...(timothy grass mix) although I did supplement their hay with oats and vitamins (horse guard). The pasture at the boarding stable was dust and weeds mostly - now they are in beautiful grass, many varieties, and lots of tree coverage, streams, etc... (and I have cross-fenced to prevent over-eating). Age probably does play a factor...I hadn't considered that and he used to be a lot darker in the summer when he was younger. Oh well, I will be comforted by the aptly stated title of Mark Rashid's book ... "A good horse is never a bad color" and enjoy my nice horse whether he's black, brown, dun or somewhere in between (and maybe try some of those other suggestions)! Thanks to all.
 
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