The Coloring of an Appaloosa

By Patty Wilber

Appaloosa color genetics are influenceded by three genes: The LP gene, Patn1 and Patn2.  The LP gene controls the varnish roan color and this gene is required for the Patn1 and Patn2 genes to be expressed.  Addition of the Patn1 and/or Patn2 to the LP results in spots.  Check out this site.  It has a horse color genetics interactive pictorial thingie where you can add in the color genes you want and it spits up a horse of the color and patterns you chose! There are lots of combos to create!

I guess LT is LP  (so she can have an appy coat pattern) and Patn2–spots on her butt.  She got these genes from her dad.  Her mom was a chestnut quarter horse and would not have the LP, Patn1 or Patn2.  LT, however does NOT have a blanket.  Spots but no blanket, is not covered in the website above. She also apparently has the champagne gene (it is covered above) which makes her super shiny.

In order to be granted full Appaloosa registration, a horse must have a spotted coat pattern. Or, if there is no coat pattern, they need mottled skin and either white around the eyes or striped hooves.

 In December when I bought Indy,  she had white around her eyes, but she was a solid bay (no spots), and it did  not seem like she had much in the way of mottled skin. The striping on her hooves didn’t count because she has some white on all four legs.  Stripes on hooves with white on the leg that touches the hoof isn’t indicative of the presence of Appaloosa genetics.  I coughed up the bucks to pay for a Performance Permit–permission to show as a registered Appaloosa without meeting the color requirements.

Indy In December, 2014.

Indy In December, 2014.


December 2014--some nostril mottling!

December 2014–some nostril mottling!

Look!  I cropped a nose pic from December and there is mottling! Dang.  I could have saved 150.00 bucks.

I was pretty sure (based on her eyes) that she had the LP gene, but probably not the Patn1 or Patn2 genes (no spots).

White sclera

White sclera–and is that a bit of mottled skin?? There are a few white hairs.


I have a year to advance her registration to “full” for free should her appearance change to meet the requirements. Or in my unobservant case, already had met the requirements, but the owner just missed it.

(Oh and yes there are genetic tests for the LP gene and the Patn1 gene now, but the Appaloosa Association hasn’t quite got to the point of accepting positive results on those tests for registration purposes.  But I may have them done…Just to see.)

In March 2015, as I was taking pictures of Indy for a  different blog, I noted there seemed to be a bit of mottling on her vulva.

In April 2015, there was significantly more on her vulva…and in her nose…and her teats, and she was showing a tiny bit of roaniness on her butt and her face. The LP gene can cause progressive depigmentation and that is what seems to be happening with Indy.  This, of course, also supports the hypothesis that she has the LP gene.

If you do not want to see a vulva, stop now.

Mottled skin on vulva and anus.

Mottled skin on vulva and anus.

Mottled skin on her teats.

Mottled skin on her teats.

Mottled skin in her nose.  I will clean her nose next time.

Mottled skin in her nose and lips. I will clean her nose next time.

So, now I get to take four pictures–left side, right side, front and rear, plus print the eye, nose, vulva and teat pictures, fill out a form and send it all to the Appaloosa Association along with her registration papers.

This is what I get for conscientiously getting all her paper work in order as soon as I got her home:  more paperwork and the loss of that performance permit fee! (whiiiine)

This depigmentation is likely to spread and she may even develop a varnish roan coat pattern.  Then I will have to rephotograph and resubmit AGAIN (but that may be free).

I plan to document the changes each month for the next year.  I can’t wait to see what happens!






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.
This entry was posted in Miscellaneous!, The Write Horse and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Coloring of an Appaloosa

  1. Sherry Meagher says:

    So this is what I’m wondering. Will it cost more than the $150 to prove all of this? That being said, it’s important to document the Appaloosa-ness. I was also thinking as I was reading this about Holstein registration back in the day. It seems like it is so much easier to document these days than it was back in the 1970’s. (Yes, I am dating myself!) Of course, I realize we’re talking different species. However, back in the day, we used to have to draw everything (it seems to me that taking pictures wasn’t allowed or cost prohibitive–remember when Polaroid cameras were expensive (and the film too)?). There were rules for that too… like if there was no white in the hoof area, then they weren’t purebred Holstein (all black legs could have meant there was some beef cow genes like Angus). Couldn’t have black in their tail switches either. This blog takes me back… And it’s a good thing Indy wasn’t offended… or was she?

    • Patty says:

      I wrote a whole reply that apparently disappeared…

  2. EMoonTX says:

    My uncle at one time had a bay mare (definitely bay mare, rich red-brown body, black mane and tail) with round white spots (small, like quarter to half-dollar size) scattered on her back, extending (as I recall) beyond the saddle blanket, but not all the way over her rump. She had been named Sylvia because of the “silver” spots. I was only 7, the last time I saw that horse, and didn’t know what to look for, such as striped hooves, but someone had told my uncle that she was an Appaloosa. She was in SW Colorado, and apparently obtained in or near Durango.

    From what you say she could not be an Appy, as she was definitely not roan or roan-ish. (I swear I’ve seen horses in shows (this is decades ago) that were black or bay with a white blanket and dark spots, though–no “roan varnish.” Also “leopard” pattern horses, white with the black spots. Anyway, Sylvia was smaller than the other two horses, compact, extremely surefooted. (I was seven–my memory is clear on “smaller” but not on how many hands–she wasn’t a pony, though. Adults rode her.) Is there a breed with small white spots on a dark background?

    And while we lived in San Antonio, I saw a POA stallion who was a gorgeous palomino with a white blanket and rich golden spots. POAs have to have Appaloosa coloring, don’t they? So I’m guessing some Appys don’t have the LP gene because they aren’t roan (or can it be recessive enough that the body color is solid, or it affects only a “blanket” and then the spots show???)

    • Patty says:

      The roan varnish gets modified by the,patn genes so the horse may not look very roany. Also, there are appy coat pattern crop outs in quarter horses so I really I mis spoke when I said Indy ould not have gotten the color genes from her mom. She could have burt it would be pretty unlikely
      Penny the red dun appy we have has zero app characteristics. She seems to lack the lp gene but she could have a patn that could not be expressed in the absence of the lp. That mare has two fully registered appy parents.

Comments are closed.