What Color is This Mule?

The short answer is probably palomino. But she’s not a normal palomino. Dijon is a true palomino. Golden and solidly the same color all over.

Nilla is sort of a palomino. From a distance, she looks a lot like a palomino, but up close, she’s a roan.

The roaning continues even through her markings.

Her markings are also indicative of dun. A full list of Dun Factors is here.

Dorsal Stripe and Shoulder stripe in the picture above. She also has very dilute leg stripes (usually called zebra stripes). I have found these to be particularly impossible to photograph, but I can point them out in person and people do see them so I’m not imaging it.

Unfortunately, the only way to determine if her coloring is officially dun or just countershading is a genetic test. And I don’t really want to spend $ finding out.

Her roaning is particularly noticeable in her head.

Nilla also has the Pangare modifier. According to Equine Color Genetics, “Pangare is a modifier that acts by lightening certain portions of a horse’s coat, usually the muzzle, the belly, the inner forearms and thighs, and sometimes even the chest or around the eyes. When it acts on a chestnut coat, the horse usually will have a flaxen mane and tail. It can act on any color, and varies in intensity. It is often found in pony and draft breeds, such as Haflingers, Fjords, Exmoors.”

You can see the white belly, chest, muzzle area, inner legs, and especially her girth groove. Also, if you look at her mane here, what color would you say it is? White? I would too, but it’s not actually. I’ve only really noticed this since roaching her mane, but it isn’t fully white; it’s dual colored.

The outside hairs are the golden palomino color and the inside hairs are white. It’s sort of the opposite of the Fjord coloring. Depending on the light her mane looks white sometimes and looks golden others.

So the short answer is a palomino and the long answer is a roan palomino dun with pangare. When people ask – and I get asked this a lot when I’m out in public with her – I tend to just answer palomino. Knowledgable horse people – and one hiker I met who blew me away by knowing this – will spot the roaning. Non-horsey people tend to ask me about the dorsal and shoulder stripes.

I’m really fascinated by all of this. I’m even tempted to get her color tested, but I feel like buying a helmet camera is a better totally-not-necessary expense. Does your horse have interesting coloring or interesting markings?

14 thoughts on “What Color is This Mule?

  1. sarahczspots

    Paige has interesting markings as she's obviously a dun. I love her black ear tips. Copper has some weird markings because Appaloosa. He has a roany kneecap, a roany place between his ear and eye, etc. Copper also has a tri-colored tail with black/super dark brown in the center, red, then flaxen hair on the outside.

  2. emma

    i LOVE reading about coat color genetics (and kinda obsess over the equine tapestry blog even tho it's all wayyyyy over my head lol). regardless of whatever coat color Nilla is, she's certainly gorgeous!

    my mare has quite a bit of roaning too, and some sort of cream dilution that is particularly visible on her muzzle (esp her winter coat) and on her front lower legs. ppl sometimes mistakenly think she has front socks, but nope, it's just cream colored. oh, and she has those white bird catcher spots randomly around her coat….

  3. Amanda

    Tristan is a super weird color. My short answer is usually "bay roan." However, he has some primitive markings, some rabicano markings, and there is a possibility of other genetic stuff beyond roan going on (like minimally expressed sabino).

  4. Stephanie

    She is such an interesting color!

    Gina's summer coat shows a lot of white roan-ish type hairs, but I don't know if it's true roaning or some kind of paint, or just being old!

    Moe has a big Bend Or spot on his hindquarters which he developed a couple of years after I got him. I didn't know they couple appear late in a horse's life!

  5. Madeline C.

    None-the-less, Nilla is gorgeous. To the naked eye, I feel like I'd say "palomino". And helmet cam is definitely a better way to spend your money. I bought a GoPro and I love the quality but I can't find a comfortable way to mount it on my helmet. Carly recommended the Countour Roam so I traded in, I'll let you know how it goes! Cheaper too… Amazon!

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