Colors by Neco
Thoroughbred Horse Colors
These are the current colors and markings that are preferred in the races here on SS. We have used the Jockey Club and various other horse racing and genetics websites to come up with a comprehensive list of horse colors and markings that happen in the real life Thoroughbred breed if anyone needs ideas for hexes or are curious about the breed itself.
THESE ARE NOT AN END ALL, BE ALL COLOR GUIDES. This is what is allowed in real life, and what we generally prefer on SS, but I will not bar your horse if it happens to be an Appaloosa or another color that isn't mentioned here. This really just serves as a hexing guide for people that want to hex horses that mimic the real life genetic diversity of the Thoroughbred breed!
Black – Though rare, there are true black Thoroughbreds out there in the racing world. True black is different from “dark bay” or “seal brown” – those horses may look black, but they will often have brown hairs near their muzzle, belly and inside of their legs. A true black horse will have none of these, and though they made fade in the sun, they will never bleach brown.
Chestnut – Chestnut is a common color in Thoroughbreds, and can vary widely in shade. Some horses can look almost cream they’re so pale, while others take on the burnished look of old copper. Although black is dominant to chestnut, chestnut often takes the prize of top genes.
Bay/Dark Bay– This is probably the most common marking class in Thoroughbreds. The horse will have a brown coat, with black points on its legs, muzzle, mane and tail. The brown in its coat can vary from a deep rich chocolate to an almost reddish color (blood bay), while the black points can reach up to the knees and hocks and beyond them in some cases. Dark bays are simply a darker variation of bay. Mislabeled as “brown” because of the lighter brown hairs around their muzzles and bellies, they are still registered as bay or “seal brown” (see below).
Brown/Seal Brown – Often registered as “dark bay,” these horses are simply brown in color. They will not have the dark markings of a “dark bay,” or the lighter hairs of a “seal brown” horse. A seal brown appears almost black in color, but the horse will have brown or reddish hairs near the muzzle, eyes, the elbow and the stifle. These horses will also have black points, thus the “dark bay” label for many of them, but if they have reddish or brown points near any of the above mentioned spots, they are seal.
Grey – This color can vary from a very almost silvery white to a very dark gunmetal grey that appears almost black in color. These horses will often have dapples throughout their coat and sometimes have darker points on their legs, muzzle, mane and tail. Greys will almost always lighten with age to white, though they will retain some dapples and may often resemble a “fleabitten” type of appearance.
White – Though rare, they are some true white Thoroughbreds out there. These horses are completely white, with pink around their muzzles and eyes; they will be born white and stay the same color at any age.
Palomino – A variation of chestnut, these horses will have a very pale, golden chestnut body with white or flaxen points on their legs, mane and tail.
Cremello – A very, very pale cream horse that looks almost white.
Perlino – Similar to cremello, this horse is a cream modifier off the bay gene, and though their bodies are a pale cream in color, they will often have a reddish hue to their points in a faint mimicry of bay.
Buckskin – This often happens when a bay and a cream-gened horse are crossed. The black points are unaffected, but the base coat will lighten up in shade, often ranging from an almost cremello to a very sooty looking chestnut.
Smoky Black and Cream – These horses are hard to distinguish from their other counterparts, but are often identified by how their coats fade in the sun. A smoky black looks similar to a regular black horse, but its coat will be several shades lighter and often bleaches in the sun to an almost brown appearance. Smoky creams look very similar to cremellos and perlinos, but when combined with white markings, the cream appears a darker almost sooty color. Either smoky black or cream happens when one parent carries the cream gene.
Bloody Shoulder – This appears almost exclusively on grey horses. These are usually patches of color, ranging from red to brown to black, that appear on the shoulder, neck or body of the animal. They resemble claw marks, as if the horse had been scratched, but are really just very odd markings.
Brindle – This is a relatively new marking that pertains directly to roan. The horse will be a darker color, mainly black or seal brown, with smaller white stripes running across its coat in a uniform pattern. Brindle is very common in several breeds of dog, but still rare in the Thoroughbred. Brindles most often produce true roan foals.
Sabino – These are white markings on a Thoroughbred that most often appear as a blaze and stockings. Sabino can range from the minimal socks and stripe, to a horse that has four white stockings, an enormous blaze that runs past its chin and in many instances, white splashes on its body. Sabinos are more commonly extreme on chestnut-based horses.
Overo – Though a paint pattern, this has been seen in Thoroughbreds! Sabino horses most commonly pass this on for whatever reason, but the horses will often have large white body patches. This can be minimally expressed in stockings, blazes and small belly marks, to full blown pintos running around the paddock. These appear commonly on bay or black horses.
Splash – Similar to overo, these horses will often have completely white faces or heads, and sometimes blue eyes. They will have four large white stockings on their legs and the tips of their tail will be white. This pattern is much rarer than either sabino or overo.
Rabicano – This manifests as white speckles along the horse’s flanks and belly and many rabicanos will often have white streaks at the base of their tail running through it. These can occur on either base coat color or modifier.
Birdcatcher Spots – Small white spots that can vary from very small to somewhat large will dot an otherwise plain coat in no real pattern. This can happen on any color Thoroughbred.
Tetrarch Spots – Similar to Birdcatcher spots, only much larger.
Bend Or Spots – These almost exclusively appear on chestnut horses. They are small, darker colored chestnut spots on the horse’s coat, most often appear on the flanks, belly and shoulder of the animal.