The horse’s coat: definition and characteristics

When we are dealing with equine laminitis, nutrition does not have to be complicated. Many people wonder what is a safe feed for horses with laminitis; as a starting point, it is important to think about why we feed, and this varies depending on the type of laminitic horse we are feeding. An overweight horse will have different needs than a leaner horse, and an older horse or pony suffering from PPID may have other health problems associated with age, such as poor dentition that requires a specific type of feeding.

Black Horse

Characteristic of breeds such as the Friesian or Murgese, is a completely black equine coat-Horses with this coat also have eyes and skin of the same color.

manto cavalli definizione caratteristiche
The Friesian horse presents the typical blackish coat

Blackish coat can be:

  • Ordinary: glossy, dark and lacking in reflections
  • Raven: deep black
  • Maltint: tending to very dark brown in some areas
  • Zaìno: devoid of white markings

Albino Horse (White Horse)

Although there is no such thing as true albinism for equines, the characteristic coat of horses with rosy skin and white hair is called this. The eyes may be brown or blue.

cavallo albino
Albino Horse

Roan Horse

The roan is a very distinctive coat, characterized by the presence of white hairs that blend in with the solid-colored coat, except for the mane and tail tests. Unlike gray, roan horses exhibit this coat type from birth.

manto cavalli definizione caratteristiche
Horses with roan coats

The various types of roan mantle include:

  • The Vinous (or bay roan), in which white hairs mingle with bay;
  • The Red (or red roan) in which they join the saurian;
  • The Dark (or blue roan) when encountered with the morello coat.

Bay Horse

The bay coat is the most common, and has ancient origins; it has black manes and extremities (called black dots), while the body is rich in brown hues. Without the characteristic black spots, the horse cannot be called a bay! The roan is a very distinctive coat, characterized by the presence of white hairs that blend in with the solid-colored coat, except for the mane and tail tests. Unlike gray, roan horses exhibit this coat type from birth.

cavallo baio
The bay is the most common coat among horses

Its variants include:

  • Ordinary bay: tending to reddish;
  • Washed-out bay: muzzle, flanks and belly tending to white;
  • Golden bay: with golden highlights;
  • Cherry bay: deep reddish;
  • Chestnut bay: chestnut color;
  • Dark bay: dull brown.

Spotted Horse

Patchy coats are typical of breeds such as theAppaloosa and Knabstrup.

manto cavalli definizione caratteristiche
The Appaloosa horse has the typical spotted coat

The origin of this coat is unknown, and according to its variations pul subdivides into:

  • Leopard, gray or cream coat with small dark spots;
  • Speckled with blanket, a bay or blackberry coat that has on it a white speckled patch the color of the coat;
  • Marble, characterized by a pattern on the whole body except the head;
  • Snow flake, a dark coat covered with white spots;
  • Frost, small white spots distributed on a dark coat.

Dapple Gray Horse

The dapple gray coat consists of a mixture of black and white hairs. Gray can have gradations ranging from snow-white to dark gray. A curiosity about this coat is that at birth, the horse is very dark, gradually lightening in the first year of age.

manto cavalli definizione caratteristiche
The Dapple Gray Horse

Almost all Dapple Gray Horse have light hair and dark skin and eyes. As the horse gets older, it may develop small reddish-brown spots that stand out against the snow-white coat. This phenomenon is called “trotter gray,” because trout skin also has similar spots. Some old horses can have so many that they are mistaken for a roan!

Spotted Horse

The spotted coat is very distinctive and typical of breeds such as the Paint horse. It consists of white and colored spots such as bay, blackberry or roan.

manto cavalli definizione caratteristiche
The paint horse with its unmistakable spotted coat

It can be divided into two groups:

  • Tobian coat, when the coat is white and speckled with color (bay, blackberry, roan, etc.)
  • Manto Overo, when the coat is bay, blackberry, or roan with white spots

Chestnut Horse

The chestnut coat is characterized by the total absence of black hair; shades verge toward light brown and reddish. Mane and tail are usually uniform in color, and may be the same color as the coat or slightly lighter.

manto cavalli definizione caratteristiche
The chestnut horse, in this case in the cherry variety

Chestnut coat shades are divided into:

  • Ordinary, cinnamon-colored
  • Golden, with yellow highlights
  • Cherry, from the red color I mean
  • Loaded, tending to brown,
  • Burnt, coffee-colored
  • Rabican, with white hair on belly and sides
  • Cow hair, all shades of sorrel, with clear mane and tail

Dun Horse

manto cavalli definizione caratteristiche
A horse with a hawkish coat

Typical of northern European, American and Iberian breeds. The dun gene varies from cream-colored to silver-gray, and can be divided into:

  • Dun
  • Red Dun

Palomino Horse

The palomino coat comes from crossing with the Lusitano; it has golden hues, with mane and tail tending toward silver. This coat is characteristic of some American breeds such as the Quarter Horse and Saddlebred.

manto cavalli definizione caratteristiche
The wonderful palomino mantle

This particular coat is said to find its origins in Don Juan de Palomino, a Spaniard who received as a gift from the conquistador Hernan Cortes a horse equipped with this coat. In fact, it seems very much that it was the Spanish who brought this type of horse to America.



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