View Full Version : Silver Dapple gene in Arabians

3rd Jan 2006, 12:54 PM
On another forum I use there is a current debate on the silver dapple gene being expressed in the Arabian breed.

They are suggesting that the silver dapple gene in Arabians shows as a plum coloured chestnut with lighter mane and tail. As far as I am aware this does not appear to be what I would class as 'true' silver dapple colouration as found in Icelandics, Shetlands, Highlands and Rocky Mountain Ponies.

Chev, do you have any theories or opinions on this colouration in Arabs? I thought you needed the horse to be genetically black to allow the expression of the silver dapple locus? The true black Arab is of course exceedingly rare.

But you could write my knowledge of genetics on the back of a postage stamp.

3rd Jan 2006, 01:17 PM
Silver dapple only dilutes black pigment; it has no effect on red. So yes, it is mainly seen expressed on black horses; but is also visible on bays, where it can be mistaken for flaxen chestnut.

The actual shade it dilutes to does vary widely though. In some horses it's seen as a dark chocolate body colour with an almost white mane and tail, while others have a paler body. It can also appear different when it's seen in conjunction with other factors (dun, cream and so on).

Arabs don't carry cream, but it's believed some of the Egyptian lines do carry silver dapple. Arabians also sometimes carry a dilute factor known as lavender; which is also strongly associated with neurological problems and often death early in life. Affected horses sometimes survive to experience symptoms such as seizures.

Silver dapple won't be expressed on a chestnut base; so if both parents are chestnut, what you see is another chestnut.

3rd Jan 2006, 01:17 PM
Silver dapple page :) (http://www.mustangs4us.com/Horse%20Colors/z_silver_dapples.htm)

3rd Jan 2006, 02:14 PM
Thanks very much for that Chev - I did not think the genetics were correct to give silver dapple colouration in Arabians? The shade they refer to is this very specific plum shade with lighter mane and tail. I do not have enough genetic background to conduct a strong enough argument to suggest that the colour they are describing is GENETICALLY not silver dapple.

My Icelandic mare although gentically black, is 'mobrunn' in Icelandic and is the colour of a silver dapple but without the light mane and tail, as such I suspect she is a silver dapple carrier.

The Lavender gene in Arabians I knew about, as I have had the priviliege of seeing one, but she was PTS at a week old due to the neurological disorders she had. Beautiful truly mauve colour though - I will probably never see one again.

3rd Jan 2006, 02:42 PM
Have to say what you describe really doesn't sound like silver dapple.

I've not seen anything myself that looks like silver dapple in Arabians; but equally I've not read anything that states it doesn't exist in the breed. Are there any pics of this colour? It sounds intriguing, whatever it is!

3rd Jan 2006, 03:13 PM
Typical - my pooter just crashed in mid-reply!

Interestingly, there do not appear to be many photographs of these 'plum' arabians. My own personal theory is that they are a variation of the liver chestnut colouration, although I have no genetic basis for this argument. Could it be an expression of the 'sooty' gene which does I think, work on a red base coat?

the original forum debate is here,www.arabianlines.com/forum1/topic_new.asp?TOPIC_ID=9373although the silver dapple question has got mixed up with the sabino and roaning genes.

I did however, find this site on silver dapple colouration in Morgan Horses and also false silver dapple colours.


Hope the above have whetted your geneticists appetite!

3rd Jan 2006, 03:40 PM
Based on the photos I've just seen in those links, I'd be inclined to agree that these 'plum' Arabs are liver chestnut.

One reason being two of my Welsh mares... who are, according to the descriptions given, typical of the 'plum' colouring.

Note the 'distinctive' body colour, along with the silver grey mane and tail....


Tia's dam was buckskin, sire was liver chestnut. I'd have put her down as liver chestnut with interesting colouring to be honest. Her mother certainly doesn't carry silver dapple in any way (she has such lovely black points!) and I think it highly unlikely that her sire does.

This is the other; the pic doesn't show her grey mane and tail very clearly but she has the same plum body colour. No idea what colour her mother is; but her sire is liver chestnut.


I do doubt that a gene that's relatively rare in Welshies should crop up in two of my mares... ;)

3rd Jan 2006, 03:43 PM
Chev, this lab will genetically test your horses's colour genetics - the other forum thread suggests that they do not test non- US horses - they do. Now, would you not have thought that was the easiest way to prove or disprove the existance of the silver dapple gene in Arabians?


Here is genetically black Nott showing the dilution effect of the Z locus.


3rd Jan 2006, 03:50 PM
Indeed Chev - also your rather beautiful mares look distinctively Araby too! So could it be the sooty gene?
Perhaps you should join the AL forum just to post the colour of your mares, if not I could alwys post them, if you agree?

3rd Jan 2006, 03:51 PM
It would seem the sensible way to prove it one way or the other. The cynical part of me wonders if that's why these horses are not tested.

I thought there was also a lab in Europe who will test for colour genes? Could be wrong though.

Please feel free to post the pics of my mares! It would be interesting to see what they make of them :D

3rd Jan 2006, 03:53 PM
Liver chestnut is thought to be a result of sooty on a red base. The gentics of mane and tail colouring really aren't understood; it is something I'd love to know more about though.

3rd Jan 2006, 04:08 PM
The even more cynical part of me would suggest that *if* you had an alleged silver dapple Arabian you could charge huge amounts of money for it? Surely to breed a silver dapple arabian you would need one black parent?

OK I will post your photos and not mention the fact they are Welsh Ladies and see what transpires.

3rd Jan 2006, 04:16 PM
Hmm... in theory you could breed a silver dapple from chestnuts that carry the gene; but to be expressed there would have to be a black base, so you'd have to have one black or bay parent at least for that to happen. A chestnut with silver dapple just looks like a chestnut.

3rd Jan 2006, 04:29 PM
Your girls are on! Will sit back and see if anything happens.

3rd Jan 2006, 04:45 PM
and finally:
Copyright Lukka

This horse is a false silver dapple! He is out of a liver chestnut mare by a sire who gets flaxen haired chestnuts. There are no true silver dapples for a few generations. His colour is registered as liver chestnut with flaxen mane and tail - seems reasonable to me.

3rd Jan 2006, 04:55 PM
I've seen a few Welshies with interesting takes on liver chestnut.

Nebo General Pride (http://homepages.manx.net/welsh-cobs/pages/NeboGeneralPride.htm)

Nebo Daniel (http://homepages.manx.net/welsh-cobs/pages/nebodaniel.htm)

These are two of them. Nebo Daniel in particular is striking to look at in the flesh.

3rd Jan 2006, 05:10 PM
Nebo Daniel is stunning and I would certainly class him as liver and I do remember seeing Welsh Cobs with the liver/flaxen colouration. He is a stunning horse to look at - my kind of Welsh Cob! I also note that his sire is a roan!

The other one is interesting for the metallic sheen on his coat, also I think he is nearest to the plum colouring the Arabian lot are referring to.

I think it is very subjective of them to try and gauge the colour of a horse by mere appearance alone. We all know how the eye can deceive, so I guess the only answer is to actually have the genetics done and take it from there. Given the amount of false silver dapple colours there are, you cannot base a hypothesis on something so unscientific as the beholder's eye!

3rd Jan 2006, 05:51 PM
For future reference there is somewhere in the UK that will colour test DNA to ascertain colour genetics:


Thanks for a really interesting discussion Chev, it has really exercised my grey matter!

3rd Jan 2006, 10:22 PM
Im one of them arabian lot,!!!! Great website and a lot of great friends, and neighbours on there,
can see what your getting at, but going by what your job is, your obvously far from stupid,and proberly do know more than could possibly be on back of postage stamp.
whilst you were, are, waiting for replys back from AL, following both threads here and there whilst being a member of both websites!!!!! feel it is a little naughty.

4th Jan 2006, 07:46 AM
Sorry you feel that way; but I am actually really interested in the replies on AL. I have tried joining there in order to join in the discussion but something goes awry; I can fill in the members' details page but when I accept the terms and conditions instead of sending me to the 'fill in your user name' page it just directs me to the main forum, and I can't get any further :( . So this is the only way I get to follow it.

The Arab influence in Welsh ponies is undeniable; sabino in Welsh ponies almost certainly came from the Arab blood so if silver dapple exists in Arabian lines it's also possible that the silver dapple in Welsh ponies came from there.

I am genuinely interested in the discussion on both forums; please don't think I'm not.

4th Jan 2006, 08:05 AM
Have also been back now to AL to see if this could be misread. To be honest I don't see how it could. Ambatt has made her (our) take on plum colouring quite clear on AL.

Ambatt posted on the AL thread and posted here for clarification. I know of lots of people who read something on one forum and post on another for more viewpoints; I really don't see the problem. But I am sorry you feel so incensed about it.

4th Jan 2006, 09:48 AM
Just to clarify my position - I used to own Arabs, show Arabs and have some very dear friends on AL including the person who is researching colour inheritance on AL. I needed some expert assistance on colour genetics fron Chev because I doubt the existance of the true silver dapple gene in Arabian horses. I do however own a breed of horse where the silver dapple gene is expressed quite readily.

I am quite within my rights to discuss the issue of the silver dapple gene where I chose - I have not defamed anybody, made derogatory or perjorative comments or made deliberately offensive statements- I would hope that a decent debate would be forthcoming based on scientific principles and rationale.

I was involved with Arabs for over 25 years until I joined the Icelandic lot and was lucky enough to own an Old English/Crabbet plus Polish sabino mare and a Babson CMK mare with the rare seal bay colour.

4th Jan 2006, 10:47 AM
Chev, you might need to email the mods at AL to get your account activated - I seem to remember I had the same problem when I joined.

After going back and checking my posts on AL I found this statement:

"so this leads me on to say that i think this may explain why sometimes a black arab appears unexpectedly. that is, its parent, or parents were genetically black but didnt appear so because of the silver dapple diluting gene, that is, the parent wasnt ee ( chestnut) so could pass on the E gene ( in its undiluted form)"

Is that possible? I thought chestnut was ALWAYS recessive so if any other colour gene was passed on that colour would be expressed. I also assumed black was dominant and therfore unlikely to be passed on as a 'hidden' colour?

You have made me go and look at other Eastern breeds to see if there is any similar colouration which could be 'silver dapple' and thus have an effect on this colouration appearing in Arabians. I cannot.

So I have looked at the Iomud, the Turkomene, the Akhal Teke and the Caspian. No silver dapple colouration pattern, the Akhal Teke show some stunning colours but all appear to be dun/buckskin based with cream. The Caspian breed appears to come in a very limited amount of colours, the most common being bay and brown,black, chestnut and grey, there is also a dun(?) line which is a very specific peachy-apricot colour and I suspect a very ancient colouration pattern. There is no evidence of sabino in this breed which has been subject to much genetic study to establish phenotype.


4th Jan 2006, 11:00 AM

and here again, no evidence of silver dapple colouration. I shall stick my neck out and still say that the colouration in Arabs is a variant liver chestnut. Surely if silver dapple was so rare (it is a beautiful colour) it would be highly prized, therefore documented and depicted? As far as my books show it is not.

4th Jan 2006, 11:26 AM
and as I have posted on AL (this is from the Turanian horse website):

"Until recently it was thought that the Liver Chestnut was a manifestation of Sooty over Chestnut, but since Sooty countershading is uneven over the horse's body and Liver is not, these two colors are probably caused by different genes."

So the plum colouration could be a colour in its own right. Which is far more interesting to my mind. Which means the pedigrees of your mares could be very interesting Chev. I am guessing the Arab part of their pedigree is 1920s to 1930s?

4th Jan 2006, 04:02 PM
"Until recently it was thought that the Liver Chestnut was a manifestation of Sooty over Chestnut, but since Sooty countershading is uneven over the horse's body and Liver is not, these two colors are probably caused by different genes."

Excellent point! Sooty characteristically adds dark pigment from the topline down, which is why dark bays have paler underparts. Liver chestnuts do tend to have a much more even colour; in fact if anything their colour tends to be darker and more intense on the lower parts of the shoulder and gaskin, which isn't how sooty works at all. Hmm. There's also the fact that some liver chestnuts darken as they get older - it's seen especially clearly in some liver chestnuts who also carry cream (the sooty palominos). One Welsh cob stallion who was born pale palomino darkened so much over his life it's said that he was "palomino that later became liver chestnut" - genetically impossible, but it does show how the darkening can occur. Here's a good example; Aberaeron Idris (http://homepages.manx.net/welsh-cobs/pages/aberaeronidris.htm) - you can clearly see how much darker he is on the lower parts of his body too.

The question about 'hidden' black - black cannot be hidden by chestnut, but could I suppose be considered hidden if it's diluted in some way, or modified by something like bay so that breeding bay to chestnut gives a black.

So - using a breed like Icelandics that we know carry silver dapple - if a mare is bay + silver dapple she could easily appear flaxen chestnut, even though she'd be genetically black. If she was bred to a true chestnut stallion with no modifying genes, foal we know would get e from dad, but could get E from mum but no silver dapple or A to modify that base. So you would then get a black foal from what appears on inspection to be two chestnut parents. If I'm right that's how silver dapple was first identified in Morgan horses; testing a stallion believed to be chestnut but throwing black foals to chestnut mares (or something like that). When tested for red factor it turned out he was in fact genetically black not chestnut. I guess that *could* be called a 'hidden' black gene - but black cannot be hidden in the same way that chestnut can truly be hidden by an E gene, or the way bay can be hidden in a chestnut pony. It would be visually hidden, rather than genetically hidden.

Arab blood was introduced several times in Welsh breeding; there was a strong Spanish influence between 1100 and 1500 that included Arabian blood; later in the 1700s TB blood was introduced through a small TB stallion loosed on the hills, and most recently while the sec B type was being established in the 20s and 30s at least two of the Foundation Stock stallions were Arabian bred - one was the son of the Arabian King Cyrus, the other a son of the Barb stallion Sahara.

I'm inclined to agree that this plum colour is a variation of chestnut. There are a huge number of sec Bs which certainly chestnut based but are certainly very interesting shades.

4th Jan 2006, 04:29 PM
Aberaeron Idris is my Welsh Cob ideal! At first glance his colouration appears to be classic silver dapple.

I knew of a partbred Arab mare called Odile (she was registered and was a show winner in the early 70s) who was the same colour is Idris - she too started off as what appeared as 'true' palomino and then darkened to that lovely metallic dark colour. (The non-Arab part of her was Welsh).

To throw a couple of spanners in the works there are a couple of Icelandic colours that are also classed as part of the silver dapple colour range.

4th Jan 2006, 04:41 PM
This is silver bay:

This is bay dun silver dapple

and this is smokey black:

(all images copyright Lukka)

So I am now confused on the genetic code that gets bay dun silver dapple - but one gene MUST be Black, but then how is the dilution factor expressed? errrrk!

It never ceases to amaze me how many colour variants there are in the Icelandic. They have been a totally closed herd since the 11th century - so I can only assume that there has been selection for colour as well as gait. As they are a closed herd, it must offer the equine geneticist an absolute wealth of information to study colour inheritance and patterning. The Icelandics also show sabino patterning and the splash white gene, plus tovero and frame overo etc.

4th Jan 2006, 04:46 PM
Here is Lukka's website:

To get to her colour section
Click on Icelandichorses at the top of the left hand menu, scroll down and select 'colours' and then marvel at the rainbow hues of my favourite breed.

I also wonder (and this is purely subjective) that the silver dapple colouration only seems to occur in PONY breeds, which means it is linked perhaps to phenotype?

4th Jan 2006, 05:00 PM
Hi, im facinated by this too.

My welsh mare is by Ebbw Amber Flash
who looks very dark liver chestnut with the flaxen, is this sooty?

My girl is registered as liver chestnut, but has black and grey in her mane. She has no black points - i read that a chestnut can have black in the mane but it's the black points that distiguish a bay from a chestnut. She is sabino too (big blaze onto her chin and high socks).

Is the flaxen mane and tail thing different to the silver dapple gene? and do we know if that only works on black too (ie are they black or bays) or are these chestnut horses genetically chestnut with mane modifiers? does that make sense?

Ive got a stallion for her that is black from black parents and i wonder what from her genes is going to show up, although a black/any! foal would be gorgeous!

- Caroline.

4th Jan 2006, 05:02 PM
He is beautiful isn't he?

More interesting shades of chestnut and palomino which abound in Welsh breeding;

Ebbw Amber Flash (http://homepages.manx.net/welsh-cobs/pages/ebbwamberflash.htm)

Llanarth Braint (http://homepages.manx.net/welsh-cobs/pages/llanarthbraint.htm)

Llanarth Lady Violet (http://homepages.manx.net/welsh-cobs/pages/LlanarthLadyViolet.htm)

and a very clear illustration of the way palomino can darken to resemble silver dapple...

Janton Dictator (http://homepages.manx.net/welsh-cobs/pages/jantondictator.htm)

4th Jan 2006, 05:11 PM
Hmmm - Santi's lovely Welshie's sire looks to be displaying the plum colour Chev! Indeed, Janton Dictator looks like a 'true' silver dapple.

So the more I think about it, and the more evidence I see, I am convinced that silver dapple in Arabians does not exist.

Edited to add:
Whoever designed the Welsh cob info. resource is a genius - what a fantastic pedigree resource.

4th Jan 2006, 05:16 PM
Bay dun silver dapple would be E (black base) A (bay) D (dun) and Z ( silver dapple). The black base would be modified first of all by the bay gene which limits the black to the points. The bay body colour would be diluted by the dun factor but remain unaffected by the silver gene. The black points would also be diluted by dun to an extent, but would be most affected by the silver, which would lighten the mane and tail to flaxen/silver grey.

Chestnuts are horses whose genes are not able to allow black pigment in the coat; lots have what appears to be black in mane and/or tail but it's not truly black; just very very dark brown. This is Lili, another of my liver chestnuts, who seems to have a black mane; but when you look really closely, it's not truly black.


Flaxen is distinct from silver dapple; silver dapple is a dilute gene that acts only on black pigment, so has no effect on red. So a red chetsnut with red mane and tail could carry silver dapple but the mane and tail would remain red because there's no black pigment to dilute. Flaxen (it's believed) acts only on red pigment; a black carrying flaxen would show no visible sign, but on a red mane and tail the colour is bleached out to the distinctive flaxen colour. Flaxen doesn't appear to affect body colour; silver dapple dilutes black body colour to varying degrees.

4th Jan 2006, 05:35 PM
See? This is when I realise my knowledge of genetics is really limited! I was up with it so far but had completely lost the plot on the more complex colours. I have to say you do explain it well Chev.

Still no replies to the AL thread...

So after re-reading the AL thread, I am unclear if they are saying that this plum coloured liver chestnut with silvery-grey IS silver dapple(which it is not IMHO) or if the plum with silver is an EXPRESSION of the silver dapple colouration?

I have looked through all my Arab books and I can not find any evidence of silver dapple anywhere. However, I have found some interesting examples of variant liver chestnut. The shades vary from a rich velvety chocolate (the late Riaz) to a stunning deep mahogany plum with a very bright orange-red mane and tail.(Mehzeer)

Shiny McShine
5th Jan 2006, 09:15 AM
Okay I'm a little confused by all of this. I don't have the book on me but in Jeanette Gower's book about horse colour genetics I'm pretty sure she talks about blacks as being AaAa genetically, which basically means black is not inhibited at all as it is in other A genes such as AAAa which is a bay horse with black restricted to the points.

The point I'm trying to make here is that I understood that chestnut horses also carried these A genes, but because they are EeEe and don't exhibit black they are only minimally expressed. So a chestnut horse carrying AAAa is your typical standard chestnut while a chestnut horse carrying AaAa is a liver chestnut. Going on this theory I found liver chestnut very easy to understand... but reading all of this I am confused.

What is everyone elses take on this theory?

5th Jan 2006, 09:30 AM
A is agouti, which causes bay. E is the extension gene, which dictates whether a horse can show black or not. A black will be EaEa - carrying A would make it bay.

A restricts black to the points. It doesn't show on chestnuts because they don't have black. A chestnut can be AA (homozygous for bay) but won't show any sign of it at all, because they have no black pigment. The bay gene has, as far as I know, no effect on chestnuts at all; I've certainly known several bright chestnut mares who've thrown bay foals to black stallions.

The thing with liver chestnuts is that the darker colour is uniform on the body; A doesn't give that uniform colour - it does the opposite (restricting black to certain areas).

There are almost certainly more than just A and a at work in the agouti gene; there are also wild bay types, and seal brown horses have also tested positive for bay which suggests more than just a case of simple A and a 'options', if you like.

5th Jan 2006, 10:08 AM
Ambatt, I get more confused as it goes along... try this link for confusing the issue;

The Black Mystique (http://www.arabianrun.com/black2.htm)

"Bays are the most common and considered to be the most dominant. These are horses with black points (mane, tail, legs, and ear tips). The Arabian breed contains a certain type of dark brown bay that often masks the black gene."

Bay doesn't 'mask' black at all; it modifies it. You know looking at any bay that it carries E (black) otherwise it couldn't be bay in the first place! Bay *is* dominant to black - not just considered to be. A black cannot carry bay without showing it.

"The Agouti determines the color of horses with black points and blacks, and the Extension, the basis for chestnut."

Hmm. The Extension determines whether or not a horse has a black or red base. Agouti determines whether or not a black base will appear black, or bay of some type. The article is rather misleading.

"Of these breedings, three were known dominant recessive chestnuts."

??? Chestnut is reccessive. It is never a dominant gene. And a gene cannot be 'dominant reccessive'!

"The chestnut genes of the palomino, red dun, and Haflinger all lost to the dominant black."

Palomino: eeCr. As long as the palomino parent doesn't have a bay gene enabled in there, the foal from a palomino put to a homozygous black will always appear black; even if the cream is passed on.

Red dun; chestnut with dun. Again, in the absence of a bay hidden in the red dun parent's genetics, offspring will always be black based. If the dun is not passed on - foal will be black. If however dun is passed on, offspring will be black dun or grullo.

Hafflinger - genetically chestnut with no known carriers of bay. Any foal from Hafflinger x black will therefore be black.

"In stepping out of his own breeding base of Arabian blood, a breed that has been bred along certain lines and strains for centuries, Serr Ebony Star has proven beyond any doubt the existence of dominant black occurring at the extension locus in all horses."

None of these examples prove the existance of a black gene which dominates all; only what chance can do.

5th Jan 2006, 11:04 AM
Aahhhhh - all is clear:confused:
I did start to smell a rat after 'dominant recessive chestnut'
Also as far as I am aware there are only a handful of black Arabians that have been genetically tested to show that they are indeed homozygous for black.

Interestingly my seal bay Arab mare Arami (Bay Aramis x Doosti) had a high proportion of Babson and thus black breeding in her pedigree. Her dam was black (although looking back at her she looked black-brown, but it is difficult to discount the effect of sun-fade.) I have just gone to look through my old stud guides and found an A4 tatty photocopy of Arami. She is certainly seal bay and registered as such, but I also note that her topline and back are darker so is that sooty at work? Her sire Bay Aramis was alleged to reduce white, so a lot of sabino mares were put to him. I do not know if that is folklore or genetic truth, but his get did appear to show reduced white.

I also remember a little black stallion from *Bask lines, he was a bit of a surprise as there was no black in his pedigree for several generations. Can't remeber his name, going to look it up.

Lady Wentworth always doubted the existance of the true black Arab and it has always been a rarity.

5th Jan 2006, 11:20 AM
This link was posted on the AL thread:


To me it appears to contain misinformation, I am not sure what they mean by
"a parti-color (wildly spotted) horse"

"The true parti-color is hardly ever seen today and is strictly hotblood in origin. Desert Name-Ablak This color is not related to the tobiano or the overo gene groups."

Dredging my archaeological memory I seem to remember Chinese depictions of spotted horses...
and I also remember from my undergrad days that domestication of animals introduces white markings - but I have no idea why.

It is no good Chev, you are going to have to get your registration working for AL!

5th Jan 2006, 01:59 PM
Hafflinger - genetically chestnut with no known carriers of bay. Any foal from Hafflinger x black will therefore be black.

Dexter is haflinger x black shire and has turned out bay, you can see him in my thread.

5th Jan 2006, 02:11 PM
I take it back!

Hafflingers were originally a variety of colours, including black, bay and grey. Over the years, the other colours were bred out, resulting in an exclusively chestnut breed. It's fairly easy to breed black and grey out of a chestnut line, simply by selecting horses that are neither colour; but not so easy to select for chestnut over bay since a chestnut can actually carry two bay genes and still appear chestnut.

So Dexter shows that bay does still exist then; assuming his parents were pure Haffie and that the Shire was truly black and not a very dark bay.

Thanks for that! :)

(Still proves nothing as far as the so-called dominat black Arabian though ;) )

5th Jan 2006, 02:33 PM
The little black Arab Stallion I was thinking of was called Aldebaran! racked my brains thinking of it! (He of the surprise black colouring from non-black parents, gparents and gggrandparents).

6th Jan 2006, 09:49 AM
Still no reply about silver dapple in Arabians, I was enjoying the debate too. However someone was asking why there are not any black or bay or brown Arabs with the sabino pattern?

7th Jan 2006, 06:38 PM
Chev, a reply on AL by the researcher into the silver dapple colouration in Arabs:

"Also, I'm afraid I can't go with your 'sooty' theory: it doesn't fit the evidence I have, and also the experts are currently divided as to whether sooty is in the Arab genepool or not..."

Please get logged on to AL so I/we can help formulate a scientific reason why the silver dapple gene does not exist in Arabs. The more I look at it, the less evidence I can find for that colouration in ANY Eastern breeds (Where cream and dun/buckskin proliferate) nor in the Arabs.

I am going to email the Morgan breeder of silver dapple Morgans to see how they 'rediscovered' the silver dapple gene.

Do you think cream/dun/buckskin were DELIBERATELY bred out of the Arabian breed in Antiquity? It occurs in all the other Eastern breeds but not the Arab. Intriguing...

7th Jan 2006, 07:34 PM
I don't know if this is true or not:

"Some breeds, notably the Arabian, have no dilution genes in their gene pool. They cannot be palomino, buckskin, or dun. However, some light flaxen chestnuts are able to be registered as palominos with the PHBA, since they register their horses only on visual inspection; if the horse "looks palomino," he can be registered as such. Some Arabs, in fact, are registered with PHBA, even though they are never palomino -- the Arabian registry, which is a breed registry, registers them as chestnuts. "


If this is true, does that rule out silver dapple? (The no dilution genes bit)

Sorry Chev, you are probably sick of the sights of the term silver dapple now!

7th Jan 2006, 08:36 PM
Chev, here is part of the reply from the very friendly (and helpful) American Breeder of silver dapple Morgans.

The silver dapple lookalikes I have seen in Arabs were that weird type of sabino which causes a silvered mane and tail, but without much in the way of white markings. The tip off is that the legs on such bay based individuals will remain black instead of the chocolate of a silver dapple. I agree with you, in the absence of a clearly silver dapple individual I'd have to say it just doesn't exist in Arabs.

Nice Morgan Lady's website (Laura Behning)http://www.mindspring.com/~morgans/silvermorgans.htm

8th Jan 2006, 05:10 PM
Chev - pop long to AL and get your account sorted - you are my expert witness! I need you!
I have however found this after much research.

Alleged bay silver dapple Arabian:
The description is this:
" KD Just Charge It, Khartoon Khlassic x Lady Amadeus. June 2003 Purebred Arabian bay silver dapple gelding. Just a darling horse, this guy loves people. He has a black and white mane and tail with muted black legs."

If it has black legs, muted or otherwise it ain't silver dapple!

8th Jan 2006, 05:23 PM
Nice to see a pic of Nˇtt, dear girl, how is she!

8th Jan 2006, 05:27 PM
There are a lot of Haffies born with dark grey manes and tails, undesitable in the breed standard now, but my old stallion had more black in his m&t as he got older than flaxen, he looked like our silver dapple Icelandic in the end.

8th Jan 2006, 05:35 PM
Ugla FrA SnŠldubeinsto­um and Wrekin Strauss, Strauss is a Pure haflinger but you can see how much black he has in his mane.

8th Jan 2006, 05:54 PM
Nott is fine and tubby as ever Wally, thank you for asking. She has wintered out beautifully this year with Dolly Cob - stuffing (restricted) haylage!

Dear Ugla was silver bay I think, but she shows some pangare effect with the lighter facial colouration. I need Chev for the more complex genetics!

Have you still got Strauss?

8th Jan 2006, 09:31 PM
and how plum are these:

I think I am in lurrve!
There was a query on some Arab discussion board (in the US, I forget which) which suggested that Lewisfield Sun God was the line that carried silver dapple, this is obviously not the case, but look at the spectacular colour his descendents do pass on. They are stunning!

8th Jan 2006, 11:09 PM
That's liver chestnut with a flaxen M&T isn't it?????

Ugla. on her Icelandic papers was rauðvindotte! I don't know!!!!!! The translation was Silver dapple!

Strauss was much the same colour, and a pure Haflinger, the first ever passed British Bred stallion!....in spite of his size!!!!! :O :o :o there was little to choose between the two of them.

I had Strauss PTS last year, he was getting too thin and I didn' think he'd last the winter the first year in 34 he never got fat, That horse was 1 in several million. never did he embarras me in public, he ALWAYS came upwith the gods.

9th Jan 2006, 06:58 AM
That's liver chestnut with a flaxen M&T isn't it?????

Yes, it is Wally - also known as black liver chestnut - with the orange-burgundy mane and tail it is quite spectacular. It is this line of horses that has sparked the whole silver dapple in Arabs theory, but as you say, it is liver chestnut!

My own theory is that some US-based cynical breeders are trying to charge a high price for saying horses are silver dapple when they are not. It happened with black Arabians in the 80s, but at least they existed!

Ugla was silver dapple bay!
"Icelandic: Jarpvindóttur (sometimes called rauðvindóttur, which is the same color, just a wrong definition, as the base color can not be chestnut (rauð)).
Description: The horse has a bay body colour and flaxen mane. "
copyright Lukka
There is a photo of a very clear silver dapple bay elsewhere on this thread.

Sorry about your old trooper Strauss, Wally I know he was a horse in a million.

9th Jan 2006, 08:49 AM
Ugla is definitely silver bay - it means she's genetically black, carries the bay modifier to make her bay, and the silver dapple gene that dilutes the black pigment but not the red body colour. You can see how her body remains that red bay colour, unaffected by the silver gene, but the black on her legs has been diluted to the colour her whole body would be had she been black and not bay based.

The alleged silver bay Arabian... I'm not sure about him. He just doesn't look quite right to me for silver bay. You'd expect to see dark points on his legs for a start; not black, but silver bays tend to have a different shade of brown on their legs than on their body, because the body is undiluted red pigment and the pigment on the legs is diluted black; which gives a completely different colour to red pigmented hair. He looks more like one of the weirder chestnut variants to me; like this one of mine (this is Tia in winter coat - her mane is more dilute than the Arab's, but similar in the way it's pigmented).


Actually this just goes to show the ways coat colour can be misinterpreted; you'd never ordinarily guess that these two pics are also the same pony, just taken at different times of the year!



The Arabs in that last link are stunning! But definitely not silver dapple. It's a variant of liver chestnut (and seen in Welshies too; I'll see if I can find some pics) that is very striking in itself. Seems such a shame that people are so bent on attributing the colour to silver dapple. I think liver chestnut is one of the most interesting set of genetics of them all; and much underrated as a colour a lot of the time too!

I've still found no evidence to suggest silver dapple truly exists in Arabian breeding. I will keep looking... ;)

9th Jan 2006, 09:12 AM
Been doing some looking into Morgan horses, because the silver dapple gene has been identified there and I hoped it might shed some more light on this... and found this. Similar to the Morgans you posted in teh link earlier (who are just amazing to look at!)

Justawee Morgans (http://members.aol.com/justaweemorgans/mares.html)

Scroll down to Rogue's Finishing Touch; the most incredible flaxen liver chestnut mare! Now wouldn't you swear she was silver dapple to look at her?

Now look at these; first is her dad. Clearly doesn't carry the silver gene; even though the pic is black and white you can see his mane and tail are not diluted at all.

Flight Commander (http://www.allbreedpedigree.com/flight+commander2)

And this is mum; Rogue's Misty Pooh (http://www.allbreedpedigree.com/rogues+misty+pooh)

Looking back through the perdigrees just about every line can be traced back to black, brown or bay; very few are chestnut right the way back (there are a couple, no more) so there's no reason to doubt the description of her as flaxen liver chestnut.

Perhaps because silver dapples have on occasion been mistaken for flaxen liver chestnuts (the Morgan stallion tested and shown to be black based rather than red, which would suggest he carries Z, being one that came to light recently) I think there is perhaps a tendency for people to want to beleive that their 'ordinary' flazen liver is in fact something more exotic, whereas I feel it's actually highly unlikely to be the case in most of these horses.

For me, the genetics behind the chestnut range of colour is just as interesting as those responsible for silver dapples. And the range of shades they produce is just as exotic and just as striking, too.

9th Jan 2006, 10:11 AM
I don't know if this is true or not:

"Some breeds, notably the Arabian, have no dilution genes in their gene pool. They cannot be palomino, buckskin, or dun. However, some light flaxen chestnuts are able to be registered as palominos with the PHBA, since they register their horses only on visual inspection; if the horse "looks palomino," he can be registered as such. Some Arabs, in fact, are registered with PHBA, even though they are never palomino -- the Arabian registry, which is a breed registry, registers them as chestnuts. "


If this is true, does that rule out silver dapple? (The no dilution genes bit)

Sorry Chev, you are probably sick of the sights of the term silver dapple now!

Hmm. Arabians do have at least one dilution gene; that is the lavender gene, although it's probably not just a colour gene given its connections to neurological symptoms.

Certainly there is no cream dilute in Arabians; it's also true that the Palomino Society here registers horses on the basis of appearance (which explains how a flaxen chestut Hafflinger came to be registered with them as palomino) so a pale chestnut Arabian with flaxen mane and tail could conceivably end up registered as palomino in the same way. There are some very high percentage Arabian horses around now that carry cream; but the gene was introduced via outcrossing to palominos (often Welsh ponies in the UK).

I'm not certain about dun. I had a feeling Arabians (or certain lines at least) did carry dun. Will toddle off and do some more reading... :D

9th Jan 2006, 10:13 AM
I have gone through 100s of archive photos of Arabians (thank goodness for the internet!) and I cannot find a single silver dapple Arabian.

Lots of lovely liver chestnut variants though.

What Laura Behning said about the sabino gene producing lighter manes and tails is interesting - we know the Arab has the sabino gene, and this is a common trait.

If the gene that causes liver chestnut is indeed a separate genetic colour and not the effect of sooty on red, how much more interesting is that?

Chev - Tia is amazing! What a beautiful girl.

My current fav. horse:

Black liver chestnut has replaced silver dapple as my favourite horse colour.

Chev - am I right in saying that if the Arab has no dilution genes (cream, palomino, buckskin, dun) then there CANNOT be silver dapple as it is a dilute gene?

9th Jan 2006, 10:17 AM
Found this (http://www.bloodlines.net/TB/Bios/OxfordDunArabian.htm).

Since the breed registry don't accept dilutes for registration (or didn't at one time anyway - not certain what they allow now) perhaps dilutes like the Oxford Dun Arabian have simply been bred out?

9th Jan 2006, 10:34 AM
Oh wow! What a colour! The more I read, the more I think that liver chestnut cannot be caused by the action of sooty on chestnut. One thing that strikes me is (as you mentioned) the uniformity of many liver chestnuts; like this one (this is Tally, another of my dark orange ones!).


Tally has no shading, as would be typical of sooty, and isn't getting any darker as time goes by.

Unlike this one; this is Lili, who must have some other variant of liver! She started off this colour;


(not the best pic, but you can clearly see that her legs and the lower parts of her body are a shade darker, and mane and tail are pale)

and went this colour;


ending up this colour


She's 8 this year; I think she will continue to darken as she gets older. You can see how much darker her mane and tail have gone; her mane is so dark now she could be mistaken for bay at times.

I think there is more than one gene at work here; one that causes the coat to darken, and one that causes chestnut to appear liver. Neither really look like sooty; which is another gene whose effect remains static throughout life.

There is much more to orange horses than meets the eye... :D

9th Jan 2006, 10:42 AM
Blimey, well found Chev! I had never heard of the Dun Arabian! Impressed.

Now another theory of mine:
If there was dun in the Arabian gene pool at one time, I would suggest that it was transferred in from the other Asian Breeds like the Iomud, Akhal Teke, Caspian etc where this colour is found.

The 'Arabian Horse' as such does not exist as there is no such country as Arabia - countries are modern socio-political boundaries and as such are open to interpretation.

So orignal Arab Horse homelands are found in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, the Caspian Littol and the areas surrounding Afghanistan, Turkemenistan etc.

Plenty of opportunity to exchange a bit of DNA then? I wonder if the dun colour was considered evidence of impure blood and was selectively bred out as you suggest.

Or the Oxford Dun Arabian was in fact a Turanian Horse - the term 'Arab Horse' in the late 17th - 18th centuries were a catch all phrase used to describe any horse of Eastern origin.

This gets more fascinating!

I am off to look at colours in the Barb horse as it is the only Eastern Breed I have not yet looked at.

9th Jan 2006, 10:47 AM
And it gets more interesting still....

Crikey! (http://www.triple-s-ranch.com/about_color.htm)

9th Jan 2006, 11:27 AM
Gulp! I had read references to ASD on some of the other sites but did not read the text!

Your Tally is Sabino, isn't she? I see a belly splash! Which given her mane and tail colour, does follow the argument that sabino *may* effect mane and tail colouring to give the silvering effect.

Looking back at the Oxford Dun Arabian - he look like a Turanian horse to me, there is something about the set of the tail that is not Arabian, and comparing him to the other paintings of Arabians from that period, his tail set is atypical. (Although he is described as a 'high caste Arabian' Aleppo is in Syria - just going to check my geography.

9th Jan 2006, 11:39 AM
Facinating!! Though going abit over my blonde head!!!! I have been reading the thread on AL didn't even realise it was here too!!! How would you know if your horse was Sabino as I have a feeling Jaz is??:D

9th Jan 2006, 11:48 AM
Just another thought

Another thought:
Is the lavender gene the Arabian equivalent of lethal white overo? Or is it a sport? This is the pedigree of the mare I knew who threw 3 Lavender fillies - all of whom had to be PTS.

There was an article written on her in the AHS news in the 70s - sadly I do not have a copy.

9th Jan 2006, 11:52 AM
How would you know if your horse was Sabino as I have a feeling Jaz is??:D

Her Crabbet side has the sabino gene, has she got a white lower lip? She could be minimally expressed sabino but I better leave it to Chev to explain fully, she knows what she is talking about!

9th Jan 2006, 12:00 PM
Yes she has the white lip and when she rolls she has some white under her belly. One of her daughters was born chestnut flaxen mane and tail, white lip and roaning on her belly and lions!

heres some pics




Her daughter Jade



9th Jan 2006, 12:08 PM
She is a sabino!

9th Jan 2006, 12:15 PM
Yippee!!! I've always wanted one!! I had a feeling as she throws always a baby with lots of white! 4 white legs and always a blaze!:D

9th Jan 2006, 12:15 PM
Lavender Foal Syndrome:
"Dilute Lethal or Lavender Foal Syndrome occurs in Egyptian and part-Egyptian Arabian horses and is usually fatal within 48 hours of birth. Foals are born with difficulty (dystocia), fail to stand or nurse and have neurological problems (intermittent joint rigidity and rapid eye movements). The foals are called Ĺlavender' because the hair coat has a diluted lavender or pink colour. This may be due to abnormal clumping of the pigmentation in the hair, but could also be attributed to cyanosis (lacking oxygen) caused by the long and difficult birth. The foal is often larger than normal. On postmortem, vacuolations of the neurons are found"

*Maybe* this could be why dun Arabs were bred out? Possibly the dun lines were carriers???

9th Jan 2006, 12:35 PM
I also remember in horse and pony or another magazine once there was an article about rose grey arabs they had a pinky tint to their coat but that was in the old style horse and pony.

9th Jan 2006, 12:51 PM
Rose grey Arabs are a definite colour! They are foals that are born chestnut but have one grey gene so they will end up grey. The Rose Grey colour is the intermediate shade they are in between and some of them are VERY pink!

Lavender Foal Syndrome is a fatal condtion that some Arab foals are born with. The foals usually die within 48 hours, there is no cure and currently no test for it. The foals are a definite lavender shade quite mauvey. I have seen one and the colour is amazing, they kept the filly alive for a week but she was too brain-damaged to survive.

9th Jan 2006, 12:57 PM
What a scary thing to go through if your foal was born like that. Hope I NEVER have to go through it :(

9th Jan 2006, 01:53 PM
It is REALLY rare - so I don't think you should worry! Most breeders will NEVER see it.

9th Jan 2006, 02:25 PM
Your Tally is Sabino, isn't she? I see a belly splash! Which given her mane and tail colour, does follow the argument that sabino *may* effect mane and tail colouring to give the silvering effect.

She certainly is. She has thrown two obvious sabino foals (Teleri and Rhodri) and one who shows no sabino markers at all (Monty's Anni). Tally, although she shows obvious roaning on her flanks, has that belly splash and some interesting splashy roany sort of markings on her belly and between her hind legs, and the classic ragged socks, has no white on her lower lip at all.

Tia's another sabino; and Dot. These pics show Tally's white freckles on her belly and Tia's white splash (small though it is!).

Sabino is often much more loudly expressed on a chestnut base than on black (or bay, sometimes).

Tally's belly


And Tia's!


9th Jan 2006, 02:47 PM
Oh they are lovely Chev. Super Welsh Ladies indeed - and very interesting colours. My sabino Arab had that roaning to her belly too.

11th Jan 2006, 04:49 PM
Ugla's last foal to a Chestnut stallion did produce a bay foal!

12th Jan 2006, 05:38 AM
WOW!! What an interesting thread, though I do admit some of it went over my head...I love the coloring genetics and am seriously considering doing genetics as my PhD subject...this just made me want to even more! The one thing that does confuse me is the sabino thing...I've never been able to get it straight in my head what it is. And I'd never even heard of silver dapple before :rolleyes:

12th Jan 2006, 08:23 AM
Sabino is a bit complex. It's more than likely a group of genes rather than just a single one, and causes so many different characteristics it is easy to confuse people with it.

The most basic explanation is that sabino is responsible for a range of white markings, which usually include ragged white socks, 'knife-edge' socks, lip spots, big white ragged blazes, white faces, white on the lower lip, belly splashes, roaning, ticking, and odd splodges of white unconnected to socks on teh legs or the lower part of the body. I used to have a classically marked sabino mare; will try and find a picture of her. A sabino usually needs two or three obvious markers to be classed as such, but some show very little sign of the gene and yet throw quite loudly marked foals even when put to horses with no white at all; the gene(s) are a bit of a wild card when it comes to pattern. Some of the loudest sabinos have consistently and exclusively produiced very minimally marked foals while very minimally marked horses throw foals with lots of white.

It's a very common gene in Welsh breeding, in Arabs, and gypsy cobs here in the UK.

12th Jan 2006, 10:42 AM
So...would sabino be a form of paint horse marking then? :confused: I seem to remember some people calling their nearly solid paint horses sabino..

12th Jan 2006, 10:01 PM
I am awaiting the news with baited breath about the red factor test and reliability in predicting silver dapple colouration Chev.;)

14th Jan 2006, 07:11 PM
i was intrested in your darkening mare Lili Chev.

My liver chestnut mare has legs that are darker than her body.
She was registered at birth as having two front white socks which she doesn't have now (shes 11), they are paler than her body but no way white.

Is this the sabino gene at work? She has the classic sabino markings (picture on page two of this thread.) Her back socks are still v clear, what happened to the front ones?

15th Jan 2006, 08:37 AM
Kalypso - sabino is considered by some to be part of the overo complex, so sabinos would be included as paint markings by some. There are also lots of sabinos who bear a striking resemblance to certain overo patterns; try this (http://www.angelfire.com/on3/TrueColoursFarm/Cool_and_Unusual_Thoroughbreds.html) link for some striking examples of TBs with sabino (and other patterns and dilutes).

Santi - sabino won't cause socks to disappear. I'm not certain what gene might be responsible for the darkening in some liver chestnuts; sabino is responsible for white patterns and silvering or lightening of mane and tail hair.

Have a look at the colour of the skin on your mare's front legs, and the hoof colour. If the skin is dark, there never were any socks. A sock is simply an area on the leg where there is no pigment; so the coat grows white. It's not uncommon for markings to be taken down wrong on foals - Welsh ponies and cobs must be registered by the end of December in the year of their birth, so very few have lost foal coats when descriptions are taken. Lots are also taken before the foal is handled too... so it's not unheard of for socks to be missed, or marked in where there are none. Lots of foals have very pale fawn coloured legs when they're very young, and it's not difficult to mistake that colour for socks.

To give you an idea; this is Rhodri. First one very shortly after birth, with four pale legs.


Next one at nine weeks old, still has four pale legs.


Third at two months, when his dark bay coat is now obvious, and his four white socks the same.


And this is he grown up a bit more, as a yearling. As you can see, he only ever had three socks, the fourth being nothing more than pale baby fluff.


I'm not aware of anything that would cause a sock to vanish otherwise. It's also not unusual to see paler colour where a sock would be on liver chestnuts, which again might have led to confusion when her markings were done.

16th Jan 2006, 09:34 PM
Thanks for the photos of Rhodri, i see now that her 'vanishing socks' were probably never there!