Anyone want to know about greys and roans...?


New Member
Jun 25, 2009
HI I am new to the site and been sat here all morning reading this thread adn not got anything done at all outside with the horses as yet, I would just like to say it is a great thread and would like to show you a couple of photo of my girls
they are both full sister out of the same mare by the same stallion i just hope that i can post them ok

This is my yearling Filly "JAZZ"



This is her Full sister Mazie she is 5



New Member
May 22, 2015
I love this discussion and information, but ...I need more. How many color genes does a horse carry? For instance, is the color governed by 7 pairs of genes, or 12, or 2? I would think it would be the same number for every horse. ?


New Member
May 22, 2015
Ok, so she got a non-grey gene from her grey dam,who had to be heterozygous, but we can't know what that gene is. Gotcha;)

Well at least then I know she doesn't carry a grey gene:eek:
Thanks Chev, you should write a book... "Genetics for idiots";)
I would buy that book! LOL
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May 7, 2002
right here, right now
A gene is a region of DNA that carries information about what any given cell does. DNA is held in kind of storage type things called chromosomes. For the most part each horse will get a matching pair of chromosomes, one from each parent. The location of a gene on a chromosome is called it's locus. Alternate forms of a gene are called alleles.

Research into colour genes is still going on. But there are a few known and which can be tested for.

E - ability to provide black pigment

A - distribution of black pigment

C - pigment dilution

D - dun pattern and dilution

TO - tobiano spotting pattern

W - inability to form pigment in skin and hair

G - exclusion of pigment from hair

There are more genes being found all the time. Like silver dapple, which is situated on the Z locus.

At the moment there are eight known genes as listed above. But they're don't stop there - that's without bringing Appaloosa colouring into the mix. Then there's patterns like sabino, splash, and frame. The biggest problem is identifying all the genes in the first place. There are literally millions of genes in the human (it's about five million). I'm not sure how many millions a horse has but it's in the same region.


Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
Surrey Hills
Fabulous thread. I just glanced back at the start and learned about "corn marks" - @chev, do these apply to greys too? Ziggy has a dark grey mark where he was bitten which is not fading to white with the rest of him.


May 7, 2002
right here, right now
Fabulous thread. I just glanced back at the start and learned about "corn marks" - @chev, do these apply to greys too? Ziggy has a dark grey mark where he was bitten which is not fading to white with the rest of him.

It could be what's called a bloody shoulder mark. These are patches of colour on greys that don't grey out and can occur anywhere on the body in spite of the name. The cause of these markings is unknown but they seem to crop up in in Arabs or TBs mostly from the references I've seen.


New Member
Jan 3, 2018
Greys first, because they're nice and easy to understand.

Grey acts as a dominant gene, and some consider it technically not a colour gene but a colour-replacing gene. A horse only needs one copy of grey to go grey. Greying is not related to age - horses that will go grey show signs of doing so as early as six months old, when they start to shed the baby coat.

Interestingly, foals that will go grey are often born a deeper colour than those that don't. For example; a bay horse will usually be born with fawn coloured legs - it's only when they shed the foal coat that the black points show up. A bay foal destined to go grey will often be born with a deep bay coat and black legs.

Greys don't just grow white hair - the first stage of the greying process also adds black hair, so some colours will appear to get darker instead of lighter as they grow.

All greys, if they live long enough, will end up white. They will go through a variety of interesting stages to get there though. The first signs are often no more than a sprinkling of white hairs, leading to some confusing their grey for a roan.

Steel greys develop from black horses; rose greys from horses with a red base. At this stage, they are still easy to confuse with roans.

Next stage is dapple grey - by this point it's obvious that a horse is going grey, and not a roan. Some horses remain dapple grey (sometimes quite dark too) for years, while others are completely white by six or seven.

Some greys that have gone white will then develop flea-bitten markings, where they show freckles of black or brown.

Some pictures of grey....

First is Gelfy when we first has him. His body was still very brown - almost roaned, to look at - but note how although his body and points might fit the roan description his face is much whiter. If he'd been roan, his head would have had little or no white on it at all.
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