This post first appeared on the studio blog on June 28, 2011
I encountered this roan Saddlebred at a local show this past winter. Roan Saddlebreds are extremely rare, and the few modern examples I have seen have all been bay roans. Classic, dark-headed roan is frequently linked to the gene that makes horses bay or black, so chestnut roan is less common in many breeds.
This gal was odd even for a roan. Perhaps most striking was her mane, which went from red at the roots to white in the middle to red at the bottom again. The owner allowed me to pull some hairs, and they were all banded in this fashion. She said the mare (who obviously had some age on her) had always been this way. She also said that she was much lighter in the summer, which is pretty typical of roans.
The hairs in her tail were also banded, though not as consistently so the effect was not as dramatic.
She was also faintly dappled. I tried without much success to capture them in a few pictures, but the show grounds there are set up terribly from a photographers standpoint!
In many ways she reminded me of the odd sabino roans that Laura Behning found in Morgans, perhaps because of the white dappling.
Her owner also said that the mare came as a surprise to her breeders because both the sire and dam were ordinary chestnuts, and there was no history of roans in her family. I haven’t taken the time to track down her pedigree to confirm that, but if that is true that would make her all the more unusual.