This post first appeared on November 17, 2011
I have had a number of people contact me asking about the color on this mare, currently with the Another Chance 4 Horses rescue. I apologize to those easily upset since these are photos of a horse in obvious need of a more caring owner. I do want to talk about her coloring, though, because horses like this are often misidentified. I’d love to see her find a good home with someone who would feed her properly, but I also think that all animals are more likely to find permanent homes when the people around them understand what they are – and what they are not.
Horses with this kind of coloring have occurred in the past, and in the case with the most concrete information, it was widely believed to be the result of a fungal infection. That was the WC Saddlebred Simply Striking. Here is one where he shows a strong resemblance to the rescue mare. In later photos, the white areas are far less distinct. According to his owner, Marcia Fuller, this last photo was after his color returned following dietary adjustments and stress reduction. She does not believe the white patterning was due to a fungal infection.
If either infection or diet is part of this type of color, that is important to know because that would place horses like this mare into the same category as horses with somatic mutations. That is, they are “cool-colored horses that didn’t come from cool colors and will not themselves produce cool colors.” This is important because historically horses of unexpected colors were hidden, so as not to reflect poorly on the breeding programs that produced them. In some cases, perfectly good horses were culled from breeding just for producing a horse of questionable coloring. The tables have turned somewhat in recent years so that horses are now more desirable (at least to some) for their unusual colors. That puts horses like this mare at risk for ending up homeless again since someone looking to recreate the pattern is likely destined for disappointment.
The other problem is when the pattern is mistaken for something else. It seems most often horses like this end up misidentified as appaloosas. Here is a purebred Thoroughbred mare, Pelouse’s Queen, with a similar pattern.
She was part of the Money Creek appaloosa breeding program. In the 1970s, when she was of breeding age, good Thoroughbred mares were in demand to improve the Appaloosa breed. The idea that they could contribute color as well, and lessen the chance of a solid foal, would have been very appealing. In today’s market, it is not hard to imagine someone purchasing a mare like Pelouse’s Queen with the idea that they might be able to found a line of purebred “appaloosa” Thoroughbreds. If her pattern, like the one on Simply Striking, was the result of an infection, then she would be no more likely to pass along color than any other brown Thoroughbred. (Whether she might have a genetic predisposition to recurring fungal infections might be another issue entirely!)
The mare pictured at the top was listed as a “pintaloosa”. In all likelihood, she doesn’t have either a pinto or an appaloosa pattern and would probably breed like an ordinary chestnut mare. Like horses with somatic mutations, she truly is unique. Hopefully, she will find a home with someone who appreciates her.
[Note: Another horse with a similar pattern was linked in the comment section that was part of the original blog site.]