Flea-bitten horse? No, that’s not an insult for your horse or your stable. It’s a description of a horse. It’s a grey horse with red flecks throughout its coat. Horses can be solid colours, have white or black points, or have patterns. Here is a list of horse colours and descriptions.
Colours of horses
• Brown – dark brown colour (even black) with a brown muzzle;
• Black – black hair with dark skin;
• Chestnut – red or reddish brown without black points, the mane and tail can be either darker or lighter than the coat but not black;
• Bay – red or reddish brown with black points;
• Grey – light coloured coat with dark skin (can begin life as black and become grey over lifetime to end as white);
• White – white coat with pink skin;
• Palomino – gold with cream or white mane and tail;
• Dun – tan colour with darker points, usually has black dorsal stripe and zebra stripes on legs;
• Buckskin – cream or gold colour with black points;
• Roan – coloured and white hairs intermingled on the body with the head and legs in the base colour,
• Strawberry roan – chestnut as the base colour
• Blue roan – black as the base colour
• Red roan – bay as the base colour;
• Pinto or Paint – large spot pattern,
• Tobiano or Overo
• Piebald – black and white
• Skewbald – white and any colour other than black;
Markings on the horse’s face
• Blaze – wide stripe down the face;
• Snip – small stripe on muzzle between nostrils;
• Stripe – thin stripe down the face;
• Star – spot on forehead above or between the eyes; and
• Bald face – wide blaze that extends to or past the eyes;
Markings on the horse’s legs
• Sock – white past the fetlock but not to the knee or hock;
• Stocking – white up to at least the knee or hock;
• Fetlock – white up to the fetlock;
• Pastern – white that starts at the hoof but ends before the fetlock; and
• Coronet – white just above the hoof.
Although the first thing we see as we look at a horse is its colour or markings, we actually should concentrate upon its conformation. A horse with poor conformation can be wrapped in a lovely covering but it doesn’t change the fact that the horse has problems.
The horse should look symmetrical and balanced. The hooves should point forward. The horse should move well and in a straight line. The nostrils should not be small. The eyes should be large. Its bite should meet. Overbite (parrot mouth) or under-bite (sow mouth) can affect the horse’s chewing and ability to eat grass. From the front, a straight line from the shoulder should pass through the entire leg.
Other characteristics are specific as to the use of the horse. Strong hindquarters are needed for quick turns. Broad and deep chest helps give strength to pull loads. The hocks are considered the powerhouse of the horse.
Not all horses will have perfect conformation and yet can perform well. It’s important to look for the best conformation and see how the horse performs.