The Lp Gene in Gette, 2024

By Patty Wilber

The Lp gene occurs in Appaloosa horses as well as a number of other breeds.  Lp stands for “leopard”, which is a horse that is white all over, with spots. The name of the Lp gene is a bit of a misnomer. If the Lp gene is present, horses will usually have white sclera, striped hooves, and mottled skin, but it is only if a Patn gene (there are at least three variants, Patn1, Patn2, and Patn3) is present, along with the Lp gene, that a leopard coat pattern can be created.  A variety of other coat patterns are possible, too.  Here is a chart that sums up Lp + Patn nicely! It is from A Complete Guide to Leopard Complex (Appaloosa) Patterns.

Gette, however, has only one copy of the Lp gene and no Patn genes. I only found one chart that had images of Lplp (nLp is how this is indicated in the chart below) horses and some of their other images did not seem quite right, so I am not convinced it is 100% accurate, but here it is.  You can see the whole chart here. Gette is a varnish roan.  Note that not all Lplp horses are varnish roans, so there are additional modifier genes at play that are not yet identified.

The varnish effect is progressive and horses that varnish get lighter every year. The Lp gene can also shift the basic coat color over time, though that doesn’t seem to be happening to Gette.

Gette, 2021, weanling. She has spots, but no varnishing yet. Photo by Heather McLevin.

Gette, June, 2022. Yearling. Definitely more white.

Gette, two yrs old, 4.26.23, with her eyes closed! This photo was taken before she was fully shed out.

Gette, May 30, 2024. Three. Note the increased gray in her tail,

Gette, May 29, 2024. Aerial view of her back, more clearly showing the varnishing.

Eventually, she will be nearly all white, but in the meantime, it is fun to watch her change season to season (the white does not show nearly as much in the winter as her winter coat is dark) and year to year!

Happy Friday!


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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2 Responses to The Lp Gene in Gette, 2024

  1. Ellen says:

    SO interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  2. dorannadurgin says:

    Not sure I could ever keep all that straight, but it sure is pretty!

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