Colors & Markings Guidelines

Facial Markings

Star: Any white marking on the horse’s face above the eye line or protruding just slightly below the eye line.

Strip: Any white marking below the eye line and above the top of the nostrils but within the boundaries of the nasal bones.

Snip: Any white marking occurring between the top and bottom of the nostrils.

Blaze: Any white marking above the eye line, extending to above the top of the nostrils and outside both nasal bone lines, but does not encompass both eyes.

Bald: Any white marking extending laterally to include both eyes, overlapping both nasal bones and covering the face down to the nostrils.

Race: Wavy, thin, irregular face marking.

Lower Lip: Any white marking on the lower lip.

Upper Lip: Any white marking below the nostrils but still on the lower lip.

Chin: Any White marking below the lower lip.

Leg Markings

Coronet: White marking extending no more than one inch above the coronet band.

Pasturn: White does not extend above the bottom of the fetlock joint.

Sock: White marking extends over fetlock joint but not to the mid-point of the cannon.

Half Stocking: White extends about half way up the cannon bone.

Stocking: White marking extending above the mid point of the cannon.

Ermine Spots: Black or colored spots on a white leg. These are typically just above the coronet band.

Color & Genetics

Bay: Bay horses, with a base color coat that ranges from light – to – dark, reddish – brown hues, are distinguished by black mane and tail, legs, ears, knees, hocks, or any combination of these points. Bays also may have white markings on the legs and face. A resemblance of blacks to chestnuts may be ascertained by the presence of black points above the white leg markings.

Chestnut: Chestnuts vary in shade from a medium red to a dark reddish brown, sometimes identified as a “liver chestnut” or “black chestnut”. Quite often, the mane and tail will be the same color as the body coat but, they may be flaxen. Genetics dictate that the mating of two chestnuts always results in a chestnut foal.

Sorrel: Typically considered a “light chestnuts”, shades may range from a light golden red to medium red. Quite often, the mane and tail will be the same color as the body coat but, they may be flaxen. Genetics dictate that the mating of two sorrels always results in a sorrel foal.

Black: The muzzle, flanks and legs – the entire coat – must be black, with the exception of white markings. Although the early foal may be an overall mousy grey, black can usually be determined by the fine black hair on the muzzle. The coat color darkens to black as the foal grows older.

Palomino: Palomino horses vary in shade from a true golden coat with white mane and tail. This variance is attributed to the differences in the shades of chestnut parentage and the dilution of the base colors. The dilution of a uniform darker chestnut, for example, would be slightly darker that the dilution of a lighter chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail. Other modifying genes may cause similar diluting effects so that the term “palomino” might be used to describe several different genotypes. Genetically, one parent must carry the dillute gene, either a Palomino, Buckskin or a Cremello.

Buckskin: Buckskins are a diluted bay coat. This color comes in a variety of shades, depending upon the shade of bay that has been dilluted. This color is usually the result of breeding Palomino to Bay, or Black or Brown.

Dun: Visually, dun horses may appear closely related to the buckskin, but it is a separate genetic pattern. The dun horse will show a clear, dark dorsal stripe, and typcially shows some other dun characteristics, such as shoulder barring, zebra stripes on the legs, and cobwebbing on the face. Duns come in red (dun factor over chestnut/sorrel) and yellow (dun factor over bay) and grulla (dun factor over black).

Champagne: Is a dilution gene yet has its own identity separate from the dilution gene that creates palominos or buckskins. The champagne group of colors consists of pale colors with underlying pink or light brown skin (sometimes mottled) and amber eyes. Many champagnes are born with blue eyes that later darken to amber and sometimes to brown. Body colors range from chocolate brown to variances of yellow with manes and tails that vary broadly in color and intensity. Champagne foals often are born dark and get lighter after shedding the foal coat.


Roan: The basic coat color (bay, black, chestnut, ect) of the roan horse is modified by a mixture of white hairs, intermingled from birth with the darker hairs of the base color. Unlike grey horses, which develop white hairs first on the face, roans show their basic color on face and lower legs, with roan hairs predominately showing on the neck and body. Roan horses should have at least one roan parent.

Grey: Foals are born their base color, although sometimes the foal will show signs of greying around they eyes. Grey is a modifier to an existing color, it is not a color in it’s own right. Genetically, the rule is that the foal will not turn grey unless at least one parent is grey.

Tobiano Pinto: A Tobiano must have on Tobiano parent. In the Tobiano pattern, the horse will have a dark head with standard white face markings or no facial markings. The white body patches typically cross the spine and white markings appear flow from the top down. Tobianos almost always have at least some white on each leg. Any base color is allowed.
Overo Pinto: White spotting of the overo horse usually comes up from the belly, spreading upward, and rarely across the back. The white areas are usually irregular with uneven edges. The overo horse may have solid-colored legs, except for normal white markings. Overo spotting can occur on any color base background. Overos tend to have extensive white on their face, either a large blaze or bald face. Overos do not have to have one Overo parent but typically there is generous white within last three generations.

Sabino: The sabino is a horse with color and markings similar to the roan, yet it is genetically different. Its base coat color is mixed with white hairs, similar to roaning, but often with overo markings: high stockings, white face, white spots. The base color, bay, black, chestnut, ect. is used with sabino for better identification: i.e. “bay sabino”, “sorrel sabino.” Also, Sabinos will have a white lower lip and generally at least 2 or more jagged socks/stockings, typically at least some of these will exhibit white above the knee or hock.

Appaloosa: This color pattern is defined by spots. There are several types, and the color may change over time as often vanishing of the coat (roaning) increases with age.The stereotypical coloured Appaloosa is a dark body with a spotted or white blanket over the loin and hips.
Coat patterns vary from the “snowflake” that shows a darker body with lighter roaning or speckling, to the “leopard” which shows a white base and dark spots over the entire body. Appaloosa marked horses are easily identified and no two are exactly alike. Appaloosas share three characteristics: mottled or freckled skin (parti-coloured), most noticeable around the muzzle, eyes and genitalia; hooves have clearly defined vertical light and dark stripes, and eyes have a white sclera encircling the iris.