White horses possess enchanting auras that catch the attention of many people. They look so stunning and regal that most could not resist.
White horses are rare that makes them more mysterious and interesting.
Where did white horses get their colors? Does a white coat have drawbacks? What specific breeds can carry genes that give a white color?
Is White a Horse Color?
Yes, white is a horse color that is based on genes and is rare to find.
White is the absence of color. It does not belong to the base colors of horses that are usually chestnut, bay, or black.
If you want a white horse, you must not be looking for a specific breed as the white color is reliant on genes, making it extremely hard to find.
The horse that you see with white color or just white markings has a deficiency in pigment cells which is the major responsible for skin color.
Are White Horses Actually Grey?
Most of the white horses that you see are grey horses and not pure white ones.
Pure white horses are extremely rare to find because of their rare genes.
Hence, what you commonly see as white horses are grey horses that just fade their colors as they grow up.
The presence of grey genes in grey horses modifies the base color of their coats.
If a foal was born with a bay (brown) color, its coat will slowly transform into grey as it gets older until it is fully faded and seems white-out. But do not get confused with the color as genetically speaking, the color of the foal when it is born is its true color and not the grey one.
Why White Horses Are Called Grey?
White horses are called grey as they are innately grey horses with grey genes.
You might wonder why others are calling a full-grown white horse a grey horse.
Well, those white horses are genetically grey. The grey genes of grey horses transform the real color of their coat into white as they grow up.
A heterozygous grey horse that has only one copy of a grey gene will look completely white when it reaches six to eight years old. As for those homozygous grey horses with two copies of grey genes, they will achieve their white coat faster, usually by the age of four.
Grey horses, however, will not look completely as pure white. If you observe them closer, their skin is darker and some of their coats still have grey patches.
What Color Are White Horses Born?
Other white horses can be born with any color but pure white horses are born white.
Grey horses that turn into white as they get older can be born with any color such as black, brown, or red. The Cremello horse, which is also identified as a white horse because of its cream genes, can be born with a light cream color.
Those pure white horses are then born with unpigmented pinkish white skin and white hair.
Are White Horses Born Black?
White horses that are genetically grey can be born black.
Grey horses that are turning their colors into white as they get older can be born with any color such as black.
If a foal carries grey genes and shall fade its color, it will be born as deep, jet black. Interestingly, if a black foal does not have grey genes, it is usually born with a brownish-grey coat.
Isn’t it amusing that a grey horse will be born as black while the black horse will be born as grey?
Are White Horses Born White?
Yes, pure white horses have unpigmented white color when they are born.
True white horses are born white and will remain white until they die. Their skin and hair are purely white with no pigments or marks.
They will not change colors, unlike grey horses that have black skin and still have grey patches on coats even after fading to white.
What Horse Is Born Black And Turns White?
The horse that is born black and turns white is the grey horse.
A grey horse could be born with a deep, jet-black coat. Black is one of the base colors of horses and the grey genes should modify it to become whiter as the horse grows older.
Does A White Horse Exist?
Yes, a white horse exists.
White horses exist as a result of various gene mutations.
One of the pure white horses is the Dominant White horses which carry white genes. The white genes are found out to have 27 variants in 2017.
Dominant White horses are expected to have white foals as their white genes are stronger compared to other base colors. White genes assure a horse to have 50 to 100% white coats or spots.
It is also interesting to note that there are rare cases when a Dominant White horse will be born even if its parents do not have white genes because of random mutations.
Are White Horses Albino?
White horses are said to be Albino due to their color and not because of albinism or breed.
Albinism is produced when there is a recessive gene. Genetically, to be a true albino, an animal should carry two copies of the gene, one from each parent.
Looking over the diverse genetic patterns of white horses, however, there is no white color caused by a recessive gene. The white coat is commonly an outcome of various distinct genes which means no dam and sire would carry a full white gene individually.
This only shows that albinism does not apply to horses.
The albino horses that the White Horse Club, known as the American Albino Horse Club before, recognized are the Dominant White horses. A Dominant White horse is known to have pinkish white skin, a white coat, a white mane and tail, and either black, blue, or brown eyes.
Aside from the Dominant White, other genetic patterns such as grey, sabino, splash, and cream can be called as albino as long as the horses that carry these genes are born white or will turn into white as they mature.
It is important to note that these genes are just actually modifiers of the existing hair color of the horses.
Do White Horses Get Sunburned?
Yes, white horses get sunburned because they have non-pigmented skin which lacks protection against ultraviolet light.
Pigmentation is concerned with colors. Concerning skin color, the responsible pigment is called melanin. Melanin is essential in protecting the skin from ultraviolet rays and other skin diseases.
Your white horse has unpigmented pink skin with white hair that is prone to sunburn because it produces less melanin; less melanin means less protection from the damaging sun.
The nose and eye areas are the usual body parts where your horse can develop sunburn. This can cause sensitive red skin as well as some swellings and peelings.
Do White Horses Die Young?
Some white horses die young due to lethal white syndrome.
Lethal white syndrome, commonly found in American Paint Horse, is associated with the frame gene where affected foals experience genetic disorders. The foals will be delivered at the expected term and will be born normally with blue eyes and pink skin or nearly white hair.
However, these foals lack nerve cells that affect the functions of their colons. This inborn condition is not curable so the affected foals will die of colic within 3 days.
Does White Horse Have Blue Eyes?
A white horse can have blue eyes.
Black, brown, and blue are the usual eye colors of white horses. Among these shades, the blue set of eyes is the rarest to find.
Having blue eyes means having less melanin in the eyes. Melanin is the pigment causing colors; the more melanin, the darker the eyes would be.
For you to have a blue-eyed white horse, its parents should be a Splashed White horse that typically has blue eyes and either a Dominant White or Sabino White horse that has white genes for white-colored skin and hair.
What Kinds Of Horses Are White?
White horses are those with grey genes, Dominant White genes, Sabino White genes, and cream genes.
Some breeds of horses that have grey genes are the Arabian, Welsh pony, Percheron, American Quarter, and Lipizzaner.
Dominant White genes can be found in American White horses, Camarillo White horses, and Thoroughbreds.
The breeds that carry Sabino White genes are the American Paint horses, Tennessee Walkers, Miniature horses, and Shetland Ponies.
Cream genes can be seen in Saddlebreds, Draft horses, and Quarter Horses.
Famous White Race Horses
Some of the famous white racehorses came from the Thoroughbred.
Sodashi is the very first white horse to win the Japanese Grade 1 race last 2020. It was the white filly’s fourth win with no loss yet. Sodashi is a two-year-old white Thoroughbred whose mare is also a famous white racehorse with spots named Buchiko.
Another white racehorse is Chief White Fox, a Thoroughbred that is formally recorded as “white” by the Jockey Club. Chief White Fox won at the Mountaineer Racetrack in 2013. This white racehorse had joined various competitions already prior to the Mountaineer Racetrack.
The Regents of the University of California. (2020, December 5). Lethal white Overo syndrome (LWO). School of Veterinary Medicine. https://ceh.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/health-topics/lethal-white-overo-syndrome-lwo
The Regents of the University of California. (n.d.). Splashed white mutations – SW1, sw2, sw3, SW4, SW5, and SW6. Veterinary Genetics Laboratory. https://vgl.ucdavis.edu/test/splashed-white
Uppsala University. (2008, July 23). Genetics of white horses unraveled: One mutation makes ordinary horses turn grey, then white, very young. ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080720150203.htm