This post first appeared on July 13, 2011
I am not going to have time to finish up the post about eye color before I leave for Kentucky, but I did run across these pictures while looking through my coon tail references. The horse has a variation of the agouti gene known as “wild bay”. Horses with that form of bay have a reduced amount of black pigment on their points. In this particular horse, it was particularly noticeable on his tail.
I find this version of bay useful when painting sculptures because the variation in color allows you to pull out detail in the tail that would be lost to shadows if the tail were truly black. The gene isn’t found in all the breeds that have bay, and some breeds (like the Cleveland Bay) actively select against the washed-out legs that go with the wild bay gene.
That is visible on this horse’s one (mostly) colored leg. Only the ankle is truly black, and the hocks are just smudged with black hairs. The amount of black on the legs of a wild bay will vary, but the amount on this horse is pretty typical in my experience.
And while it is a poor photo taken indoors with a low-resolution camera, here is a wild bay with a coon tail. It makes for an interesting contrast.
(I suspect the blackest areas at the end of the tail on the first horse, and the lightest areas on this second horse are tail extensions, by the way, so uniformity of coloring there may be misleading.)
The blog will be quiet while I am in Kentucky, but with luck I will return with some interesting pictures as well as the promised post on eye color.