In the hope of not boring you all, I`d like to bring a little bit about equine colours to the table. I was making notes for this Horse Ownership course, and after listing the usual black, bay, chestnut, piebald, skewbald I thought I`d better check for any rare colours.
To cut a long story short I found a site about equine genetics, which touched on cream dilution, my personal favourite silver dapple as well as many others.
The gene which attracted my attention was the Rabicano gene. This gene causes limited roaning pattern in a specific pattern on a horse, and is usually characterised by the “skunk tail” effect, which is when the top of the tail has white hairs. I know one horse who has this feature – Otis.
He`s always had the white tip to his tail, and I`ve always said he`s almost a bay roan due to the speckling of white hairs over his body. So I continue reading this article, only to find that another feature of a horse with the Rabicano gene is sporadic white hairs around the flank and abdomen. Furthermore, the skin of rabicano`s can be mottled with pink, particularly around the abdomen and groin. Guess what! The soft skin of Otis`s abdomen and hind legs is mottled pink, and this gene explains why his barrel is more flecked with white than his neck and legs.
Upon further reading I found that horses can carry both rabicano and roan genes, but rabicano colouring is rarely extensive enough to be confused with the roan colouring. Additionally, horses can carry the rabicano gene and the sabino gene. The sabino gene causes extensive white markings on the legs and belly (commonly seen in Shire horses) Horses which carry the sabino gene usually have white lip and chin markings. Funnily enough, Otis has a white lip and chin. Now I`m not saying he`s also got the sabino gene as his white markings are fairly conservative, but it`s a definite possibility.
It`s a complex and fascinating topic, equine genetics, so I`d be interested in reading a beginners guide to equine genetics. If there is such a thing of course!