Close this search box.

A Comprehensive Guide to Common Horse Coat Colors

Join us on a colorful journey as we delve into the captivating world of horse coat colors, from rich bays to dazzling dapples and everything in between.
A buckskin horse and a black horse greet each other in the snow

Horses come in a variety of vivid coat colors, ranging from solid and static to multifaceted and ever-changing. A complex genetic system controls all these coat colors. Here, we showcase some common horse coat colors you might come across.


a bay horse cantering in a paddock

Bay horses have brown bodies and black manes, tails, and points on their legs, faces, and ears.


chestnut arabian horse

Chestnut horses have a red coat that can range from light (called sorrel by many stock-breed registries) to liver (dark). They can also showcase flaxen manes and tails, which are lighter than the horse’s coat.


black friesian horse

A true black horse has a pure black coat, with no brown hairs. The coat sometimes has a blue hue to it.

Seal Brown

seal brown horse

Seal-brown horses are nearly black but have brown hairs in the fleshy parts of their body, usually around the muzzle, elbow, and flank.


a dun horse cantering

Dun horses come in a variety of shades but all showcase some of the characteristic “primitive” dun factors: dorsal stripe, leg baring (horizontal striping on legs), ear frames (dark-tipped ears), face masking (dark points on the face), shoulder blade stripes, frosting (light hairs) in the mane and tail, and cobwebbing throughout the coat. Colors in this group include the bay dun (also known as zebra dun), red dun (with a red or chestnut mane and tail), and blue dun (also commonly called grulla).


Buckskin horse

Buckskin horses have a golden coat, black points (legs and ears), and black manes and tails. They are distinct from the similarly colored zebra or “classic” dun because buckskins do not feature dun factor.


palomino horse cantering

Palominos have golden coats and creamy white manes and tails. Palominos’ base coat can range from a pale yellow to a rich, gold color.


a gray pony

Horses with the gray gene are born another color, such as bay, chestnut, or even palomino or dun, and gray over time. Gray foals are often born otherwise solid with “gray goggles,” which is slight graying around the eyes. You can distinguish a light gray from other light- or white-colored horses by the presence of dark-pigmented skin.


a roan horse grazing

Roan horses have white hairs or ticking throughout their coats. Roans are born with their coat color and do not change (at least much) over time. Roans come in a variety of base colors, including but not limited to strawberry (bay), red (chestnut), and blue (black).


an appaloosa horse cantering

Appaloosa, or spotted coat, patterns come in a myriad of colors and spotting and/or blanket variations. Many looks as though someone has covered them with a white blanket covered in spots. Coat patterns can include, but aren’t limited to, leopard (a white body covered in darker spots), the ever-changing roan or snowflake blanket (Appaloosa roans are different than traditional roans, which do not change), and few spots (like the name sounds, these horses are blanketed but have “few spots”).

Paint or Pinto

paint mare and foal

Paint or pinto coloring looks as though someone has splashed white paint over an otherwise-colored horse, or colored paint over an otherwise-white horse, leaving large splotches (which are large than an Appaloosa’s spots). The colors are controlled by several different genes and come in a variety of hues and combinations.  

Take-Home Message

The world of horse coat colors is as diverse and fascinating as it is beautiful. Each coat color has its own unique charm and genetic tale to tell. Understanding the variety of horse coat colors can enhance your appreciation for them. With a little luck, maybe you can become the proud owner of your favorite-colored horse!

Are you enjoying this content? Sign up for My New Horse’s FREE newsletter to get the latest horse owner info and fun facts delivered straight to your inbox!

Share This:

Share This:

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!

"*" indicates required fields


Additional Offers

Additional Offers
Additional Offers
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Fill Out Our Survey!

"*" indicates required fields

Do you own a horse?
In which discipline do you focus?
Additional Offers
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Related Articles

Subscribe for exclusive content and promotions for you and your new horse

"*" indicates required fields

Do you own a horse?
In which discipline do you focus?
Additional Offers
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.