Markings of the Horse

Horse Bay Star (1)Understanding Your Horse’s Markings

The markings on a horse’s face may be hereditary, but that has yet to be proven. It is said that horses with parents that are “loudly” marked may also be born “loudly” marked and those with parents that are “quietly” marked could also be born “quietly” marked. Geneticists are still working on this research today.

These are the most common markings and their descriptions:

Face Markings

Star- Any and all markings on the forehead of the horse.

Snip- Any and all white markings between the two nostrils of the horse.

Strip- A narrow marking extending vertically in the area between the forehead and the nostrils.

Blaze- A vertical marking of medium, uniform width that extends the length of the face.

Bald/White Face- This is a very large blaze. It can reach the outskirts of the eyes and extend itself down to the upper lip and around the nostrils of the horse.


Leg Markings

Coronet- Any and all narrow markings around the coronet of the horse’s hoof.

Half Pastern- A marking that includes only ½ of the pastern above the coronet band.

Pastern- A marking that covers the entire pastern joint.

Sock- A marking that spreads around the leg, from the coronet band halfway up the cannon bone or halfway to the knee (foreleg) or halfway to the hock (back leg).

Stocking- A broad marking to the knee area (foreleg) and the hock area (back leg). This is an extension of a sock marking.

“Ermine” or Dark Spots- This is described as patches of darker hair in white markings. They can be dark brown or black. Most of the time these spots occur on the leg’s white markings, but they can also be present on the face of a horse.

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Every horse is different when it comes to how they are colored or marked. These unique markings and coloring can be used by a horse owner for identification purposes. When you register your animal with a certain breed association you are required to draw out every feature and marking on your animal so that they can be properly registered. There are some associations that require a certain amount of one color be in your horse’s coat, but there are others that don’t require much of anything except for breeding records.

Also when registering your horse it is important to realize that you may also record a horse’s scar tissue that may be on their body. Commonly there are different colored hairs growing out for the scar tissue and they be different colored from your horse’s “normal” hair coat. Since these hairs will most likely be permanent, they should be recorded in your horse’s registry paperwork.

All markings and patterns are important identifying features that are unique to your horse alone. It is also important to have up-to-date and accurate records on hand just in case a horse runs away or is stolen from the premises.  This is an extreme situation, but you never know what could happen. If you have any further questions or concerns regarding your Equine friend please do not hesitate to call or email the River Road Veterinary Clinic. We are always happy to help!

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