Lp Gene: Update on Indy, 2017

By Patty Wilber

“The expression of Leopard Complex (LP gene) includes several components: mottled skin around the muzzle, anus, genitalia, and eyes, and progressive roaning of pigmented coat areas with age. (My underlining.) White spotting may also be present, with pigmented leopard spots tending to occur on the white spotting background of heterozygous horses. The mutation is an incomplete dominant and expression of Leopard Complex is variable ranging from absent to extreme white patterning.” (UC Davis genetic testing site.)

Indy has an Appaloosa with spots father and a quarter horse mother. When I bought her, I didn’t look too closely (because color wasn’t why I bought her), and I didn’t think she had inherited any Appaloosa color genes from her father. Her mom being a solid colored quarter horse, didn’t have any Appaloosa genes to donate!

Indy at about nine months old. Dark bay!

Indy at about nine months old. Dark bay, Dec. 2014.

But then she shed her winter coat and became a roan! Thus, she did get one copy of the LP gene–from her dad!! One copy is fun–a horse of a different color every season and every year!  I happy with only one LP gene copy though. Horses with two copies of the LP gene have “Congenital Stationary Night Blindness (CSNB) which is the inability to see in low to no-light conditions.” (UC Davis genetic testing site.)

14.1! Holy crap. She is growing awfully fast! Liking her coat color!

Indy, June, 2015. 14.1! 860 lbs  yearling. Roan!

Winter came again and while the mottling on her skin stayed visible, her longer dark winter coat and covered the roan!

Indy, October 2015. 14.2&1/2 hands 910 pounds

Indy, October 2015. 14.2&1/2 hands 910 pounds, yearling. Back to bay!

Shed-out #2 and she is lighter than in 2015!


Indy, May, 2016, two, 15 hands, 960 lbs. Roan! And her mane switched sides!! Her tail is starting to go gray.

Another bay winter coat, but it is a bit lighter than previous years, and does (if you look really close in person) have some white in it.


Indy, December, 2016. 15.1,  1070 lbs, coming three! Bay!

I put in a series of spring pictures because I have had a lot of fun watching her roan out again this year.

Indy, April 7th, 2017. Looks bay to me… She is also wet because there is a show the next day.

Only 5 days  later, the light, even in her unshaved areas is starting to show!

April 12th, 2017. This is a patch that was shaved in March, 2017, so she could be stitched up after her failed (thank goodness!) attempt at disemboweling herself. Look how white it is!

Twelve days after than and now she is a dapple! I have seen this “spring shedding dapple effect” in other horses.  I always get a kick out of it.  The dappling largely disappears when the shedding is complete.

April 28th, 2017. Thanks Ed Armstrong for the picture!

Three weeks later and now she is looking like a “varnish roan”.  Her summer coat is definitely lighter as a three-year old and her tail is more than half gray now! She will continue to lighten up throughout her life, and since I plan to keep her, I will probably do an update post about once a year!

Indy. May 17th, 2017. 15.1 1050 lbs. Her height and weight are holding steady. I expect her to continue to fill out and hope that she does not get much taller!





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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9 Responses to Lp Gene: Update on Indy, 2017

  1. Suzan Morrow Farrell says:

    Wow! That’s fun—you get a “new” horse every year–at least, color-wise.

  2. Doranna says:

    But…what’s the difference between a slowly lightening roan and a horse going gray? Asking for a friend.

    • Patty says:

      It is a different gene and the pattern of lightening is different…No night blindness with the gray gene, either.

      • Doranna says:

        I have *got* to show you pics of my mystery color mare… In the end, called her gray. But. She looked so much like this! OTOH, if this is limited to appy horses, then she was just an odd-behaving gray. Heh. And of course I didn’t know to check her skin.

      • Doranna says:

        PS I’m sending email from my new address. It may have gone astray the last time I tried, so here’s a heads-up!

  3. EMoonTX says:

    Good looking horse in any of her colors. I’m also confused about the diff. between roan and gray–what I read years ago was that a roan was roan once it had shed its foal coat–and the roan didn’t get lighter over the years unless it also carried the graying gene. I know there’s been a lot of work on color genetics since the last time I studied it…so is there a roan gene that does lighten and “spread” over time? Is that the LP gene?

    • Patty says:

      The LP gene can create the “varnish roan” which often leaves more color than the true gray gene. The LP is more like vitilago–even the skin can lose color. A true roan has a dark head and doesn’t change much over time. A rabicano (spelling?) roan has rib stripes. The gray gene causes the hair to lose color but the skin does not and the head doesn’t stay dark as a roan does.

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