ridecamp@endurance.net: Re: [endurance] color (was: Arabs)

Re: [endurance] color (was: Arabs)

Bruce Saul (kitten@resp-sci.arizona.edu)
Sun, 28 Jul 96 01:04:47 MST


I don't want to make this a continuing color thread but I did want
to follow up on some of what Oogie said, she and I have corresponded
(in agreement) on horse color many times in the past. And by the way
she has some really cool looking horses and the most gorgeous mules you
ever wanted to see.

> There are both spotted purebed Arabians that can qualify as Pinto and
> partbred Arabians that include Pinto bloodlines. The body spotted
> Arabians seem to be of the older more classic desert lines and the spots
> are frequently on the belly. The genetics of it seems to be related to
> high white and lot sof leg and facial markings. As an interesting side

This pinto coloration that occurs in purebred Arabians appears to
be caused by the Sabino pinto gene (often confused with Overo and called
'calico overo' by some, the Sabino gene is a separate gene that is
incompletely dominant). At it's most minimal it might be seen as an
extensive amount of white on the face, a separate white facial mark, high
white extending above the knee or hock, or a disconnected leg run. At it's
most vibrant the horse can be what is called a medicine hat pinto where
the only non-white parts of the horse might be the ears and part of the
head, the rump, and the chest. Sabino spotting often has jagged or roan
edges, sometimes sharply defined, more often not.
The pinto coloration of part-Arab horses most often originates with
a pinto sire or dam (grand-sire or grand-dam etc.) of non-Arab backround.
While these may be of any pinto coloration most common are those of Tobiano
and occassionally Overo color. Some Sabinos are seen (I saw a half-Arab/
half-warmblood filly last year that was a Sabino). Virtually none are
Splash since Splash is a very rare pinto color gene.

> note this type of additional white is a characteristic correlated with
> increased domestication and docilness in studies done in foxes and mice.

Since there are four different pinto genes known to exist in horses
and the purebred Arabians that tend to carry the Sabino pinto gene are more
often than not of CMK or related bloodlines which were heavily selected for
good temperaments, it is hard to tell whether any of these genes has an
effect on temperament. It is fun to speculate on this but I have not been
impressed with the studies I have read about as they seem to be prone to
observer error and haven't really had adequate controls developed. It is
especially difficult when the groups studied may have been pre-selected for
good temperaments before selection for white. So I have to remain skeptical
about this.

> <g> As a breeder who prefers the older types and who loves the roaned
> coats, white tails and high white of these animals I like to see it in my
> foals. If you look at the pictures from the late 1800's of what horses
> were sold out of the desert vs what animals (usually in the background of
> the photos <g>) who the tribes kept, you often find that the solid
> plainer colored animals were sold and the tribes kept the spotted ones.

They certainly did not have the prejudice vs. white that is so often
seen in the showring. There is one disadvantage to a lot of white on a horse
that can be a problem for someone living in a desert region that also has
as its main type of hay available a legume hay such as alfalfa, and that is
that the horses with higher white are more prone to photosensitivity and
sunburning. But this is a management problem that can be controlled by
limiting the amount of alfalfa fed or eliminating it all together and limiting
turnout to evenings, mornings, or night.

> It does not appear that there is either the tobiano or true overo gene in
> the Arabian breed. Rather the Arabian body spotting is something else.
> SOme researchers have called it splashed white but it's not quite the
> classical splash white of the warmbloods.

Splash is a pinto color that is very rare, occuring primarily in
welsh ponies and horses in this country and in some European breeds such as
the Finnish Draft horse. It is characterized as a pattern in which the horse
looks like it has been dipped in paint having sharp edges and where the
underside of the horse is mostly white, the face included, but the top side
of the horse is dark. This is not the typical look of the Arabian pinto
spotting which seems more likely to be Sabino.

> You might also want to look at the pictures from teh British National
> halter champions. No prejudice against high white or large spots there.
> <g> One of the lovliest mares who was a multiple champion had a huge
> white mark extending across her belly and halfway up her sides.


> Well... SInce the tribal breeders had to use their animals for war and
> travel and since they prefered the ones with large white markings (for
> reference read Lady Anne's journals or W.R. Browns book or the letters
> from the Boer War) then perhaps there is something either in the
> increased docility of horses with lots of white (unproven but implied
> with the research in foxesand mice) or that is related or near to the
> genes for lots of white that provide greater endurance. Why did the
> Bedouin tribes favor horses with 4 white legs over solid colored ones?
> Why did they prefer horses with huge blaze faces that could almost be
> called bonnets?

Color preference is a big factor with most humans, I like greys,
roans, palominos, and rich deep red sorrels such are seen only in TBs and
QH with lots of TB in them. Of those colors only one occurs in my favorite
breed, the Arabian -- grey. Call me wierd.

> I'd really like to see a study done including animals from all over the
> world, not just the US where high white was considered bad, that compares
> the markings of top endurance horses.
> Anyone interested in compiling info?

No. Don't you dare draft me I'm building a house I'm too busy.

Tracy and everybody