In the previous installment, we covered the basic horse colors: Bay, Black, Brown, Sorrel, Chestnut.
Now we’ll delve into some of the more complicated colors. Not that they’re typically hard to distinguish, but they’re more complicated from a genetic standpoint. Here’s what colors we’ll learn: Dun, Buckskin, Red Dun, Grullo, Palomino. We have no shortage of duns, red duns, grullos or palominos around here!
A Dun is basically a diluted bay. That’s the simplest way to say it. The black points of the bay stay, but the base coat is diluted. Dun is believed to be the oldest form of equine coloration, and the original wild color of the domestic horse. It is found in cave paintings, and in other equine species, such as the donkey and the wild ass. Przewalski’s Horse, the last living wild horse population, is exclusively bay dun in color. The Dun dilution gene acts a bit like the cream (gene- discussed below) in that it dilutes pigments, but it acts very differently on different bases. Dun will dilute red pigment slightly to a pale/creamy red color. This gene also creates one or several dun factors, the most common and essential one being the dorsal stripe. All duns have a dorsal stripe (but not all horses with a dorsal are duns).
Our stud horse, WDX Nukem, is a Dun, and as such he makes about 80-90% of his babies dun. If all his babies came out dun, regardless of the color of the mother, we’d call him homozygous, but that’s probably more information that most of you are interested in knowing. However, in order to get a dun, you must have a dun parent.
As an aside- isn’t that a seriously good looking cowboy on that pretty stallion? Oh heck. I don’t care if anyone else in the world thinks he’s good looking. I adore him. And I do find him irresistible, and last I checked, I’m the only one that counts!
Here are some good examples of our dun mares with dun babies at their side.
Palomino is a color that nearly every person who’s ever heard of or seen Roy Rogers, is familiar with because his horse, Trigger, was a palomino. Palominos are simply red horses (chestnuts or sorrels) that have been diluted with what’s known as the “cream” gene. A palomino horse can be as dark as a liver chestnut or as pale as what might be called nearly white. They don’t always end up with black skin, and some are born with lighter colored eyes that never darken. They usually have a nearly white, or cream colored mane and tail- sometimes it’s got silver or gray hairs in it as well.
Buckskin is also a diluted bay. Again, diluted with the “cream” gene.
Here’s a good example of a Buckskin mare with her palomino colt.
A red dun is a chestnut horse that’s diluted with the dun gene. In order to really see the difference in the yellow colt above, and the dun filly below, you have to look at the main undertone- the yellow colt has no red in his coat.
You can see that this filly has the dorsal stripe and if we could see her legs we’d see the tiger striping there as well. She’s more apricot in color, but they can be nearly as red as a sorrel colored horse (from part one).
A grulla horse, is essentially a horse that would have otherwise been black- again diluted with the dun gene. They’re very mousy in color, and can range from silver to very dark. This is the rarest of the dun colors. We have two grulla horses in our string. Our stud, Silver Bueno Tom while he is bay, he carries what is called the “sooty” gene- it mimicks dun by providing a dorsal strip, but no leg striping. When we cross him on our dun mares, we’ve gotten these grullas. You must have the dun gene passed on from one parent. So you theoretically shouldn’t get a dun from a bay daddy and a sorrel mare. But you could from a bay daddy and a dun mare. Confused yet?
Here’s a photo of one of our two Grullas:
I apologize for the delay in this information. My computer loves me again, thanks to Zach’s younger brother.