Color through the Year

By Patty Wilber

Some Appaloosa coat patterns change color dramatically over time.  Dilute colors like buckskins tend to vary seasonally.

Here is a set of photos for three horses.  I am kind of sad to say, after all these months snapping, the camera did not do a great job of capturing the changes.  Or it might be *gasp* the photographer’s fault. I should have used the same location and the same  approximate lighting.  Since I really don’t want to wait another year to post this blog, I am going with what I’ve got.

The changes were was more obvious to me in person. But there you go.

Oh and I sold one horse in the middle…!


September, LT

September 2013, LT.  Dapples.

LT, October 2013

LT, October 2013.

LT November 2013

LT, November 2013.

LT, Dec. 2013

LT, Dec. 2013. Note dark on her face.

LT, Jan 2014

LT, Jan 2014.  Dark on her cheek bone.

LT Mar. 2014

LT, Mar. 2014.  Still has the neck and face darkness.

LT April 2014

LT, April 2014.  Not shed out much yet.


LT, May 2014.  Her goat has a shimmer to it, that the camera does nt capture very well.

LT, May 2014. The dark is mostly gone. Her coat has a shimmer to it and is a lot more golden.  The camera does not  capture this  very well, but she looks good in person!


The dapples are coming in. you can sort of see the sheen of her coat. no dark on her neck or face.

LT, early June, 2014. The dapples are coming in. You can sort of see the sheen of her coat. No dark on her neck or face.

LT, Late June, 2014

LT, late June, 2014


LT, Mid-August, 2014

LT, mid-August, 2014.

Lacey, September 2013.

Lacey October, 2013

Lacey, October 2013. Dark winter hair appearing.

Lacey November 2013

Lacey, November 2013.

Lacey, Dec. 2013

Lacey, Dec. 2013.  Darker (and hairy-er)

Lacey, Jan 2014

Lacey, Jan. 2014.  Picture kind of  washed out…


Lacey Mar. 14

Lacey, Mar. 14.  Dark!

Lacey April 2014

Lacey, April 2014.  Dark shedding leaving really pretty, but temporary dapples.


Lacey, May, 2014

Lacey, May, 2014. Mostly shed out–looking a lot more like the September picture.

Lacey June 2014.

Lacey, early June 2014.


Lacey, late June 2014

Lacey, late June 2014


Lacey, August 2014

Lacey, August 2014.  So this coat looks so much lighter than the Late June pic and it is just not.  Picture fail!

Toots as a baby!  You can hardly tell it is her except for the white hind sock!

Toots as a baby! You can hardly tell it is her except for the white hind sock!

Toots September 2013 at 4 yrs old–her legs are dark


Toots, October 2013

Toots, October 2013. Legs lighter.

LT, November 2013

Toots, November 2013

Toots, Dec. 2013

Toots, Dec. 2013.  Much lighter as her longer winter hair is white.

Then I sold Toots…

 So, that gives a rudimentary idea of some seasonal changes in coat color!

Next week I might do fall flowers, some from horseback.


About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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12 Responses to Color through the Year

  1. TLN2 says:

    Good post. Interesting color changes. I though my buckskin was just dirty in the fall. 😉

  2. Marilyn says:

    You actually SOLD a horse?! Can we stand the shock? FASCINATING, the color changes. Is this unique to Appaloosas?

    • Patty says:

      I know! I sold Toots and she has moved to upper class society. Custom barn with wrought iron chandeliers. Not kidding!
      Gray’s change a lot but some Appy’s undergo really dramatic changes. The dilutes (buckskin and palomino) mostly vary seasonally.

      • Marilyn says:

        How to the grays change? I’ve been going over some stuff with horses and carriages and things (reread Judith Tarr’s HORSES FOR WRITERS, but it didn’t have all I needed in it, since I was looking at a particular period of history), and, as usual, I have more questions than I have keywords to hunt on.

        • Patty says:

          Hi Marilyn–do you mean the mechanism at the cellular level or what happens with the appearance of the horse over its life time?

          • Doranna says:

            Ben Green has a great book on the physical nature of horse color. I think it’s the Color of Horse or some similar sensible thing.

            ETA It was written before genetics were a readily available Thing to Study, though.

          • Marilyn says:

            Sounds interesting. Try entering Color of Horse into an Amazon search and see what you get! Here it is, though, via author search. Just ordered a used copy.

          • Patty says:

            Horses with the gray gene are born whatever color, and then gradually turn gray and then white over the years. The time table for this process varies for each horse. Sometimes as a foal sheds its foal coat, you can see the gray around its eyes. The legs mane and tail sometimes gray more slowly, especially if the horse was a bay or black to start with. Gray horses are more prone to melanoma as well and the graying and the increase in this cancer are apparently related. The cells that produce the pigment (melanin) are called melanocytes and in grays, the melanocytes seem to die off thus the production of pigment stops. Here is an article I liked.
            The mechanisms in appy’s is different…

          • Marilyn says:

            Yes. (g) I’m curious about both facets.

  3. Doranna says:

    Whoa, you sold Toots? She was a cool little horse. Glad she has a great new home, though!

    • Patty says:

      Someone had to go and she was the quietest. Now some one else has to go…should I go with the best trained or the first one that gets an offer? I just cannot ride three and they all are nice horses that deserve a job!

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