Friday, July 8, 2011

Minimal White

Ever since I was a child, I've been fascinated by horses' face and leg markings.  At our barn right now, we've got an interesting set of markings, or rather lack of markings.  There are 8 horses, 4 mares and 4 geldings.  There are three bays - Dawn and Charisma are both red bays and Sugar is a seal bay.  There are three chestnuts - Drift, Pie and Fritz - they're all red, with Drift being the darkest, Pie fairly dark and Fritz the lightest.  Then there are the two buckskins - Scout and Misty.  That's not too odd a distribution of colors.

But it's the markings that I think are somewhat unusual, at least in their scarcity.  We have three horses with no white markings on either face or legs - Dawn, Charisma and Scout.  There are two additional horses with some white on their faces - a star in both cases - who have no white on their legs - Drift and Sugar - so 5 horses out of 8 with no white leg markings.

The three horses with white leg markings - Misty, Pie and Fritz - have only one leg with white and in all three cases it's the same leg - the left hind.  Fritz has the least white on his leg - just part of his pastern; Pie's white extends partially over his pastern joint and Misty's white extends a bit up onto her leg.  But that's all, only three legs with white out of 32 legs - I'd guess that's a pretty low percentage except in breeds that often have little white, like Standardbreds.  But all of our horses are either TBs (Dawn) or QHs or QH crosses except for Charisma who's a Morgan.

Even when it comes to face markings, we're pretty minimal - Drift, Fritz and Sugar all have stars and only Pie and Misty have white farther down their faces - Misty has a narrow blaze and Pie has a narrow stripe and also a big snip in addition to his star.

Sugar's star looks a bit like a heart to me:

Fritz's star is irregular:

Drift's star looks a bit like South America to me:

Misty's blaze is irregular but pretty:

Pie's star sometimes looks like a letter F up close, and his snip always fondly reminds me of Noble, who also had a big snip as well as a star and stripe:

Just part of the wonderful variety that's horses!


  1. I really like Pie's facial markings. The snip is darling. Sugar's star reminds me of Black Beauty.

    My horse has a white star, but it is very difficult to see with his light coat and long forelock. I also like the white frosting in his black mane and at the base of his tail.

  2. I am up for negotiations for some of Emma's white if Dawn will share some of her cute nose adorableness! I wish Emma had such a cute honker. ;D

  3. Olly - I agree about Dawn's nose - it's the cutest ever, hands down. No more white for me - I love not having white legs (Maisie) or an almost white grey horse (Lily) to try to keep clean. Those dark legs hide a bunch of dirt!

  4. Their markings make them so unique and beautiful. It's interesting to find shapes in them.

  5. I like minimal white too, (Beamer has none on his face, and two small hind socks) but I'm quite admiring the white on Rio- a lovely heart shaped star, matching hind stockings, and a point of white on his right front. When he sheds out to his dark color he's going to be quite striking!

  6. I was just thinking about markings, maybe I will do a post on my ponies one day. As I love white legs and white faces, and I realized I have 3 with no white on at all!

  7. That does seem really unusual - to have so few white legs / markings. All of the horses have very pretty faces. I think I would find it hard to tell the bays and chestnuts apart within their color groups. I really count on white marking to distinguish individuals of similar color quickly unless I know the horse well.

  8. Interesting observations! I think I might have to do a statistical look at the horses at our barn just to compare.

    Our three run the gambit. Lena with all her spots; Bar with only his star; Forrest with a blaze and three white socks.

    Hmm.. :)

  9. I read once that paints are all supposed to have a "spirit marking." My paint mare's "spirit marking" reminds a lot of people of Bart Simpson!

    I also have a sabino mare whose wide blaze, "milk chin" and nose spotting has always looked weird to me. I love her dearly, but I think horses with stars or thin blazes look more elegant.

  10. Very pretty no matter what colour. Bonnie has hight white socks, over knees and to hocks and white blaze and muzzle. But then again she is a paint.

    Rosie broad white blaze and some "caramel" mixed into her fetlocks and feather. I also noticed while braiding her mane that new growth is blonde ?!?

  11. My little three horse herd runs the gamut. Tucker is nearly solid bay with just a tiny white heel in back. Toby has a star and a snip and two white leg markings. Chance has huge white blaze, two white legs and a spot on his belly. His mom was a paint, so that explains part of his color.

    I wonder how an analysis of a large herd would go?

  12. Nice post. Horses are wonderfully different in appearance, behavior, etc. - just as we humans are. I think God must delight in variety.


  13. The sad thing is that compared to the standardbreds, this is a LOT of white. LOL.


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