From Endurance to Dressage
Over the past two or three years, Izzy's coat color has done some really weird things. I've been doing a small bit of research/reading, and I think I know why. First, take a look at these photos.
This horse really does not know what color he is! A few years ago, he started to really lighten in the middle of summer. By fall, his winter coat would grow in almost black. By late spring, his golden coat would reappear. Now, along with that yellow-gold color, he's getting black spots. I decided to do some research, and I discovered several interesting things.
For a long while, I just thought the lightening of his coat was due to bleaching out from sweat and sun. The changing coat became really noticeable when I moved to the ranch which is why I assumed the changes were do to the sun. At the last barn where we boarded, Izzy had a lot of deep shade, and he used it. Here at the ranch, there's plenty of shade, but it's not near Speedy, so most of the time, he and Speedy play with one another across the fence, so they spend a lot of time in the sun.
Instead of his color being an effect of the sun, I think Izzy might have the cream dilution gene. On a bay horse, a single dilute of the gene will create a buckskin. A double dilute on a bay will create a Perlino. According to The Equinest, "This gene has a lightening effect on the hair and is responsible for a hugely varied scope of colors. The most obvious effect is on chestnut and bay animals, a single dose changes their coats to a golden or tan color." That sounds exactly like Izzy's color.
According to Wikipedia - not the world's authority of course, but it's good for general background, "cream dilutions may have seasonal color variation between winter and summer coats." The same Wikipedia article went on to say, "Buckskin is [...] produced by the action of one cream gene on a bay coat. All red hairs in the base coat are diluted to gold. The black areas, such as the mane, tail and legs, are generally unaffected." That too, describes Izzy perfectly.
Of course, without doing an actually DNA test, I can't know for sure whether he carries the creme dilution gene or not. It seems likely though. If it is the creme dilution gene that changes his coat to such a light color every summer, it's odd that it doesn't affect his winter coat. Although in truth, that coat tends more toward black which isn't nearly as affected by the gene as are the red hairs.
Besides the golden summer coat, I've also been seeing another marking that is somewhat newer. Both sides of Izzy's neck and shoulders are covered in black spots. Initially, I thought the dark areas were scars, but this summer, he has way too many of them to be scars. In the photo above, they look like freckles. In the photo below, they look like the edges of dapples, or even veins.
Montoya, the last mare I owned had little white spots that moved around on her body as she aged. I always attributed them to birdcatcher spots, named after an Irish Thoroughbred stallion who displayed those same white flecks. I reasoned that there might be a black version of the spots, and I was right. They are named after the Thoroughbred stallion, Bend Or, who was thought to be out of a TB mare named Rogue Rose.
I did a quick search on All Breed Pedigree's site and found that through Izzy's dam, he does indeed trace back to Bend Or. It was a fairly easy search. I knew it was likely that Izzy's dam, Banjo Rose was a descendent of Rogue Rose, Bend Or's dam. If you search the line, it goes like this (d - dam/s stud): Imperioso (barn name Izzy) - Banjo Rose (d) - Tororose (d) - Sun Rose (d) - Suntime (d) - Sun Helmet (d) - Hyperion (s) -Gainsborough (s) - Rosedrop (d) - Rosaline (d) - Rosalys (d) - Bend Or (s) - Rogue Rose (d).
I find it is interesting that the mares all carried names related to roses or the sun while the stallions' names were all over the place. I am not a pedigree geek and don't care a whole lot, but if those spots on Izzy's neck and chest are Bend Or spots, I know where they came from. Izzy's name, Imperioso, was derived from his sire's line. They all have names that begin with the letter I - Imperioso, Inbegriff, Ideal, Inschallah, Israel, and then the names switch to the letter F for a two generations and then are once again all over the place.
I call him Big Brown Horse, but lately, that moniker makes no sense. He's big, but not necessarily brown. By about October, he'll be nice and dark and look almost like a big black horse. If you know more about equine colors and have some specific answers for me, I'd love to hear from you. There's an email button at the top of the page.
For now, he's definitely a horse of a different color.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
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Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
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