One of the appealing aspects of the cream dilution – at least if you are a painter – is the tendency of palomino and buckskin horses to dapple. That is especially true when sootiness is present, but even clear-coated palominos and buckskins can dapple seasonally. Where dappling is particularly noticeable, though, is when the horse is clipped. The vivid dappling on this buckskin pony comes from clipping the coat.
The other color prone to vivid dappling when clipped is silver. There are quite a few examples of striking silver dappled horses out there, and some are likely clipped. A clipped silver tends to have a pretty distinctive look (1, 2, 3). That’s important because there are breeds more strongly associated with the silver dapple phenotype, while others are thought of as more uniformly chocolate. The prevalence (or lack) of clipping may play a role in that impression.
Clipped coats can also reveal odd patterns of darker coloring as well. I shared images of this body-clipped warmblood with darker reversed dapples on the old blog.
It is not always visible in a conformation shot, but one of the things to look for when you suspect clipping is the triangle of longer hair at the base of the tail. You can see it here on the buckskin pony. If you look closely, you can even see the clipping line along the edge of the mane braids.
Cosmetic changes are an area of horse color where owners tend to have unique insight. With clipping, they can see how this changes their horse’s appearance, and what the coat looks like as it grows back. That is particularly helpful with uncommon colors. If you have not been around a lot of clipped horses, the Facebook page for Mobile Horse Clipping has good before and after images for a wide variety of colors.
Close-up images of dappling are valuable references for artists, and I took many pictures of this pony. I’ll try to get some of them up on Equine Tapestry’s Instagram. I set up that account so that it is easier to share additional photos. That might take a little while, though, because I want to return to the topic of sabinos – and beltons, and white suppression, and new discoveries…