Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Cosmo" Band Stallion Sand Wash Basin HMA Mustang A Day Challenge #37

Cosmo, First of the Sand Wash Basin  Grays

oil on gessoed matte board
5 by 7 inches
by Linda L Martin

This week I will be painting  what I call the Sand Wash Basin Grays. The interesting thing about these gray horses is that as they mature they become almost solid white, with white manes and tails and brown eyes. Unlike horses that roan, a gray horse has a dilute gene that makes them turn lighter and loose their original color as they mature.  The original color is replaced with white. An Adult gray horse might be born black, bay, chestnut or any number of colors. They might also have  white on their faces and legs or even be spotted or pinto.

A good number of the stallions in  the Sand Wash Basin are gray. I will be painting 5 that are named and documented with some frequency. So how does one tell the solid white band stallions apart. Well interestingly enough it by a combination of their battle scars and their face markings.

Yes that is right I did say face markings. You see when  a horse has white markings at birth the skin under the white hair is usually pink. The skin under the colored part of the skin is usually black or dark. By documenting the nose modeling or  patterns of  pink on their noses it is possible to tell most of the gray horses apart. Because when their is pink, the pink might be similar but no two horses have exactly the same unique markings. As I paint these "White" stallions see if you can recognize their their nose pink.  Another way to tell the horses apart is to check their feet. Sometimes a horse born with a white stocking will have a lighter colored hoof on that leg. 

Reference Photography courtesy Sally Wright
Used by permission

As you might have already noticed when  trying to document horses and their behavior, families and migration, it might be hard to tell which horse is which until you have the opportunity to see the photos and study them. Eventually you get to notice unique scars on stallions from bite marks and verify them by their noses and their feet, even the tint of their tail and the way their mane's fall on either the left or right or even down the middle.. 

While it is true that at first sight you might be able to tell the band stallions by the mares and foals with their band, its important to remember that families of horses are very fluid.  Especially with  the ratio of stallions more than double the number of mares in some HMAs. Some of the more mature stallions manage to maintain and keep their mares in spite of challenges by other stallions and the disruption of  regular gathers by the BLM. But these stallions are rare. 

Stronger more dominant stallions might keep their mares for a long time but if one  gray stallion steals the mares of another gray stallion the only way you would know is if you recognize those subtle differences.
One of the challenges that a horse watcher has is being able to recognize horses that are similar at a distance and be able to tell them apart. As you will see later in this mini series of  "white "band stallions that can be really difficult when all  his mares are the same color and their off spring are gray like their sire.


  1. Cosmo's painting looks great! you know I am waiting for another one of Centauro, :-)

  2. Let's see...
    Cosmo, Prince, White Out, Yellow Man, Centauro (he's more dapple though), Beau, Snowman... did I miss any of the grays? :)
    There's one other that someone else photographed that Nancy and I are trying to figure out who he is. He doesn't really match up to any of these very well!

  3. Aragon and Phantom are also bachelor grays!

  4. Radha =0) yep Im locating a great photo of Centauro. So I can fit him in this week. There are really enough to do two whole weeks of nothing but grays.. will schedule some more later. I have a week of golden horses coming up in a couple of weeks. Im trying to intersperce SWB horses with other parts of the education and docutmetation as well. Will do Centauro this week.

  5. Sally awesome list. Thanks I did forget Beau. Im trying to do band stallions first. Then the mares then the bachelors intermixed to add color. Unless someone has a request of course. I would love to see that horse that hasnt been named yet.

    I have a feeling that there are bunches out there we havent even seen yet. This week I am painting Whiteout and Prince to go with Centuro and the two Ive already finished. I am having a lot of fun doing these white horses. =0)