An equine of any of the basic coat colours may have inherited one or more of these patterns.
    DUN, sometimes called Wildcolour was probably part of the original horse colour thousands of years ago .Dun is characterised by a darker dorsal or eel stripe. Other markings may be present such as shoulder shadows, zebra markings on the legs, and a darker face, collectively known as primitive markings. Typically, the mane has paler hair on either side. The dun gene usually dilutes the body colour to a paler shade than it would have been if it had not been dun. Dun is a dominant gene so every dun must have a dun parent. The eel stripe is usually visible in the newborn foal, but, particularly in the paler duns, the stripe may become less obvious as the foal coat thickens. Duns do not produce blue-eyed cream unless both parents also carry the palomino or crème gene.


  Black or Brown dun is sometimes called grullo, mouse dun or blue dun. The body varies from a pale silver colour to very dark nearly black with the eel stripe and points being black. The face is usually black or dark brown.

  Bay dun is sometimes called golden dun or yellow dun. It should NEVER be called buckskin, which is a palomino dilute colour. Some people refer to bay dun as simply DUN. This only refers to the coat pattern, not the basic colour. The bay dun body may be diluted to anything from a dark gold to a pale cream colour. The points remain black or very dark brown and the face is usually a shade of bay. The ear rims remain black as in a bay.

  Chestnut dun comes in many different shades. The eel stripe is usually red but may be dark liver. Chestnut duns often lack the other primitive markings. The palest chestnut duns are very pale gold in the body and are sometimes called 'cream duns'. It would be better to call them cream chestnut duns as the term 'cream dun' is used to identify a pale palomino or cream that has an eel stripe from the dun gene.
  ROAN is a mixture of white hair with hair of any of the basic colours. True dominant roan does not usually show at birth but shows as an increasing amount of white hairs through the coat soon after. The adult coat has white hair throughout the body and neck, with silver hair through the mane and tail. In the spring & autumn, as the old coat moults, a roan becomes a pale silver colour apart from the lower legs, points and face which usually more or less retain the base colour. At this time, there is a striking contrast between the upper and lower leg with the classic inverted 'V' of dark colour at the knee. As the summer & winter coats start to grow in, the body takes on a colour closer to the basic colour of the horse.

  Black or Brown roan is sometimes called blue roan.

  Bay roan is sometimes called red roan but bay roan is preferred & recognised internationally.

  Chestnut roan is sometimes called strawberry roan. Some people confuse red roan with strawberry roan, so it is better to refer to all roans by their basic colour + roan.
    The pied horses are classified in 2 different groups, tobiano and overo.  They may be of any of the basic colours, with or without any of the patterns or dilutions, plus white body markings.

  Tobiano, the most common kind of pied marking, has white markings, which may cover the entire body and legs, leaving only a coloured head, or, as in minimal tobianos, it may show only a white sock.



  Overos are divided into sabino, frame overo and splashed white. Sabinos usually show high leg white, often over the knees and hocks, may have white patches on the lower body, sometimes accompanied by a degree of roaning, and may have a lot of white on the head. Frame overos look as though they have a coloured frame around the outline of the horse and usually have mainly dark legs. Splashed white overos usually have white legs and much ventral white. There is usually a large amount of white on the head and the eyes are blue.

Traditionally, in Europe, a black and white horse is called a piebald, while a horse of any other colour plus white is called skewbald. Skewbalds should be defined by their colour e.g. 'palomino and white' or 'palomino and white skewbald'; 'chestnut dun roan and white' or chestnut dun roan and white skewbald';  'blue roan and white going grey' or 'blue roan and white skewbald going grey' etc. Pieds always retain their skin markings so even if a pied goes grey, the original markings can still be detected by careful scrutiny of the skin. To date, the overo patterns have not been recognised in Shetland ponies.


  WHITE  Occasionally an all white foal is born. The skin is pink and the eyes usually dark but, rarely, blue. White foals are usually extremes of a pied pattern. A different gene produces a 'white-born' foal, These are not viable, some die at birth or shortly afterwards due to a malformation of the digestive system, known as lethal white syndrome. White occurs in breeds that have pied colouring but has surprised breeders by appearing rarely in Arabians and Thoroughbreds.

  SPOTTED horses fall into several categories. The leopard spotted is probably the most spectacular. A few or many spots of any colour cover the white background. The snowflake pattern is variable but has white spots or specks over a dark background. Where there is a large area of white over the rump, sometimes extending as far forward as the withers, the horse is blanket spotted. The blanket sometimes has coloured spots within the white. Dark areas may be roaned. Varnish roan or marble is a light roan colour except in areas of bony prominences, where the colour is much darker. Spotted horses commonly have striped hooves, mottled skin and 'humanoid' eyes. Spotted genes do not occur in Shetland ponies.





  GREY horses are born any colour other than grey. Grey is the gradual withdrawal of pigment from the coat, a  process that may take many years to complete or a horse may become nearly white by the age of 18 months. They can go through many stages of grey - iron or steel grey; rose grey; dapple grey (not to be confused with silver dapple); flea-bitten grey, to name a few. Horses or ponies going grey should be described as 'going grey' rather than 'blue'. The term 'blue' usually describes a black or brown form of dun or roan, so to use it to describe grey, leads to confusion. Many grey horses acquire melanomas, a variety of tumour that may eventually prove fatal. Grey usually shows in a foal as the gradual appearance of a few white hairs around the eyes and in the body coat. Grey foals are usually born with dark coloured legs.

  PANGARÉ  gives the 'mealy' effect that is always present in Exmoor ponies among others. The muzzle is of a pale near white colour, contrasting with the rest of the head. Similar coloured pale rings may be present around the eyes. The belly is usually a pale flaxen, light grey or mealy colour, sometimes called 'roebuck belly', that extends to the insides of the upper legs. Pangaré is sometimes confused with dun, but although it may be present in duns, it does not signify a dun.