Monday, March 7, 2011

Silvers and Golds of the Sand Wash Basin "Flirt" Challenge Painting #61

This week as we talk about the Gold Horses of the Sand Wash Basin I’ve asked  Horse Breeder  Debra Moore McGuire to be our guest blogger.
Debra began her research into genetics and colors when she purchased her first foundation Quarter Horse in 1981 "In researching his coloring I met and learned much about colors and breeding from Virgean Miller, one of the pioneers of the Buckskin breed."

The first horse we will go over this week is one that has been causing quite a stir on the Sand Wash Basin HMA. We call her a sooty palomino. But She and her mother are of such strange color combinations. Flirt is her name. Flirt is a deep gold dapple palomino with burnishes of dark brown or black giving her a sooty color. Flirt’s mom appears to be a grulla, however with burnish marks on her shoulders and hips of a deep gold in the midst of her darker coat.

  I asked Deb about the two of them.
“The little mare with your Flirt filly is a gray not grulla. The gold "burnishes" are part of her palomino coat that is left over. She was probably the same color as the filly as a foal.

Flirt and her Mother, Ellie in the Summer of 2010
Here Flirt is a yearling. Notice how Ellie has
 burnished gold under coat  and a dorsal stripe almost
like a grulla.  Flirt does have a very faint dorsal stripe,
 does have sooty burnish marks. Interestingly Corona the
Dunalino band stallion has burnish marks too on his 
face and legs but not to the extent of these two mares.

She looks like a younger mare and that would be why she still has so much color in her coat. She shows no dun factor (even though she might have counter shading, which would give her a faint dorsal look alike).
Her mane and tail definitely show the graying in that they are two-tone, black/white/yellow hairs. She is the type of gray that will go lighter very slowly over the years. And it may not even be real obvious until you look at photos with a 3-4 yr span between them. The points on this kind of gray go light the slowest. So her and the filly will have darker legs for a long time.

From seeing all the photos from SWB horses there does seem to be a lot of gray in those bands. But with all the dun/red dun/palomino horses out there you will get some very odd looking colors in the graying process.

The silver dappling and graying gene are actually 2 different ones. Here is the description they give for grey that may make it easier to understand.

Reference photo for this painting by
John Wagner. Used by permission.
"Contrary to popular belief, grey is not so much a color as it is a pattern (or more accurately still, a color modifier). Grey is a dominant gene that causes the horse's natural coat color, whether it be bay, black, dun, or palomino roan, to slowly "depigment" as the horse ages, much like human hair, regardless of the color, "greys out" with age" .  Because it is a modifier rather than an actually color is why that you can get so many shades and colorations in grey horses.

You can also have a "slipped" tobiano (which would be like what you were talking about in the cats), where you have a tobiano born from homozygous parents but it actually shows no white. If you did DNA on it you would find it is still a tobiano. Homozygous means it’s a dominant gene.

Please stop by the Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses page on Facebook and Say Hi. Right now Nancy Roberts is in the process of Forming a Club to continue the public documentation of this herd. You can access the page by going to :!/pages/Sand-Wash-Basin-Wild-Horses/101181969939406


  1. Fascinating - thanks for sharing all this color information!

  2. You are most welcome Kathy. Thanks for reading the blog. Alaways good to have you posting. =0)