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Horse Breeds and Coloring

Updated on March 17, 2010

I want a horse of every color, standing in my field. I want a horse of every breed in my barn. How many horses will that make? A girl can never have too many horses, right? I'm actually going to disagree with this statement. Unless you've got unlimited time and unlimited funds (which most of us don't) that would be way too many horses. Just how many would it be? A lot. I'm going to list the main color horses (some breed associations have other colors, but these will be the main ones) and breeds.


Some Colors are Breeds

There are some associations that are made up of breeders of specific coloring. These breeds include the Palomino Horse Association, The Palomino Horse Breeder's Association, The International Buckskin Association, The American Buckskin Registry Association, The Pinto Horse Association, The National Pinto Registry, and more.

Most breed associations must maintain certain bloodlines in order to be registered with their breed. These associations listed can be registered in a breed association, and registered in the qualified association based on their color. For example: I might have a Registered Quarter Horse (AQHA) Mare and she is a buckskin. I can also register her with the International Buckskin Association and The American Buckskin Registry Association. If the mare is a competition horse, this gives more options on places to compete and can add extra value if the horse is for sale.

Colors Recognized by the AQHA

A good horse is never a bad color. I learned this when I was searching for my current horse. I had a color chose I was looking for and ended up with my least favorite color of all. There are a lot more things to consider besides color, but for the color snobs, color is everything. Here I'm going to list the colors that are recognized by the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) that you'll find in the picture above.

Sorrel: Reddish or Copper-Red body color. The mane and tail will either be the same color as the body or it can be flaxen.

Black: The body is black without any lighter spots. Mane and tail are also black.

Bay: The body is either tannish, reddish, or reddish-brown. The mane and tail are black, and there is black on the lower legs.

Brown: The body is brown or black. There are light areas (separating some brown horses from a true black horse) Mane and Tail and legs are black.

Blue Roan: The body is mix of white and black hairs, but darker on the head and legs.

Grullo: The body is smoky or mouse colored, the mane and tail and legs are black. These horses usually have a dorsal stripe.

Bay Roan: The body is a mix of red hairs and white hairs. The head  will be darker. This horse will have black mane and tails, and black on the lower legs.

Red Roan: This horse has a mix of red hairs and white hairs. The head and lower legs will be red.The mane and tail will either be red or flaxen.

Chestnut: The body color is dark red or brownish-red. The mane and tail are usually the same color as the body, but can be darker or lighter.

Red Dun: The body is yellowish or flesh colored. The mane and tail are red or reddish, or flaxen. The horse has a reddish dorsal stripe and red or reddish tiger stripes on their lower legs.

Dun: The body is yellowish or gold. The mane and tail are black or brownish. There is a dorsal stripe and usually tiger stripes on the lower legs.

Palomino: The body is golden yellow and the mane and tail are white.

Gray: The body is a mix of white and other colored hairs. Gray horses are usually born a darker color and lighten with age.

Buckskin: The body color is a yellowish or gold color. The mane and tail are black, and usually their lower legs are also black.

Cremello: The body color is white or a light cream. The mane and tale are white, there is a pink or pinkish skin over the entire body and the horse will have blue eyes.

Perlino: The body color is white or light cream. The mane and tale will have a darker tint, usually either pale copper or orange. There is a pink or pinkish skin over the entire body and the horse will have blue eyes.

White: The body color is white. The skin is pink, and the eyes are usually dark.

Paint example
Paint example
Appaloosa Example
Appaloosa Example

Breeds with More Color

Appaloosas, Paints, and Pintos have even more color. They have large areas of white (see examples to the right).

In the Paint and Pinto World they have Tobianos, Overos, and Toveros.  

Tobianos usually have dark areas covering their flanks. All four legs are usually white (and they must be white below the knees). The Tobiano has spots that are usually oval or round. They are either predominantly white or dark. The tails are usually two colors.

Overos are also either predominantly white or dark. The tail is usually one color. Their white is usually only on the sides of the horse and is irregular, kind of "splattered" looking.

Toveros usually have one or both eyes blue. They have spots on their flanks and their chest.

In the Appaloosa World there are also common colorings identifying the breed.

Horses with blankets have a solid white area over their hips.

A Blanket with Spots, is where the horse has the same white area and spots the same color as their coat within the blanket area.

Spots, are when a horse has dark spots all over its body.



Some Popular Horse Breeds

American Saddlebred 
American Warmblood 
Bashkir Curly Horse 
Chincoteague Pony
Connemara Pony 
Dartmoor Pony 
Dutch Warmblood 
Friesian Horse
Gypsy Vanner
Icelandic Horse
Kiger Mustang
Miniature Horse
Missouri Fox Trotter
National Show Horse
Norwegian Fjord
Pony of America
Paso Fino
Peruvian Paso
Quarter Horse
Rocky Mountain Horse
Shire Horse
Spanish Mustang
Spotted Saddle Horse
Suffolk Punch
Standardbred Horse
Tennessee Walker
Welsh Pony


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I used to think I used to think German Shepherds were scary.. my wife had one that was her boy but he seemed to like me.One night he jupmed out of our bed and ran, barking, to my daughters room and I heard him growling and carrying on. I went after him and saw that he was barking at somebody trying to slice the fly-screen outside the window. He scared them away just with his bark and presence..Since then, I've learned not to be scared of him, as his loyalty lies with the family and his goal is to protect us

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      This is not 3D but it is a collectors card game. It is caleld Bella Sara.You collect horse-card and load them onto using a special code.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Haha !! Michelle, I know what you are tniklag about. I use it all the time. But do get that look, like what the hell are you tniklag It is basically stating that one or the other comparisons are pretty much the same thing or same difference. I think i just explained it correctly!! Apparently it is an Erie County thing, or maybe just a Girard, PA thing, well either is a horse a piece .Miss you soo much!

    • LeahG Cartoonist profile image

      LeahG Cartoonist 

      5 years ago from uk

      Hi this is a wonderful article, but I am more confused than ever. I need your help!! I have drawn this super cute black and white horse but I don't know what the breed is so I've just labelled it black and white horse! Lol Are you able to identify the breed for me please? Thank you!!

    • Miss Lil' Atlanta profile image

      Miss Lil' Atlanta 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Wow, I had no idea that there were this many coat colors for horses. Nice blog by the way.

    • Wildfire Stables profile image

      Wildfire Stables 

      8 years ago from Bodega Bay

      I'm new to hub pages and was surprised to see your nice hub explaining color.

      We are owners of a Cremello AQHA gelding. Can't tell you how many comments we get about him (

      When he was born an old time cowboy told us he HAD to be a palomino "cause there's no such thing as a white quarter horse." I've even been asked if he was an Albino??

      Thanks for an informative look at horse colors!

      Cotton was DNA tested at Davis and yep...true Cremello.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      My fiancé wants a black horse with the white stripe down the middle of the face. What breed would this be?

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Wonderfully done and I so love horses. Just my little bit of experience with them and I've always been in horse love. I think you need to go buy some lottery tickets, rocknrodeogirl with lots of 3's in it!

    • rocknrodeogirl profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Columbia Gorge

      Thanks for visiting, and for commenting!! (On a sidenote, I thought it was kind of cool you became my 33rd "fan" and your screenname is fiona_33! 33 is the number that always comes up in my life, and I left for Nashville last year on 3/3. I feel like you should get some sort of prize, lol!) ;)

    • fiona_33 profile image


      8 years ago from UK

      Terrific hub, very informative. Thanks rocknrodeogirl!

    • rocknrodeogirl profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Columbia Gorge

      I hope you can get some horses too, Michael!! They make life so much more enjoyable! ;)

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 

      8 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Great hub & informative too! My dad has got 3 Arabians...I hope one day my wife & I have a place to put a few....

    • rocknrodeogirl profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Columbia Gorge

      Thank you, Pamela!! I'll be writing some more horse articles, I hope you'll enjoy them! ;)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I love horses so it is interesting to read all your details as I am not that knowledgeable. Thanks for a nice hub.


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