Colour genetics
Base colours
White Patterns


The horse coat colours and their heredity in this game are based on real horse colour genetics. Every breed is given a starting percentage for each colour, based on the colours of the breed in real life. For example, the mérens pony is nearly always black, both in the real world and in this game. The same can be said for Friesian horses. But did you know that there some purebred chestnut Friesians in the world? That originally come from black pure bred Friesian parents? This is not impossible, as the chestnut allele is on the same gene as the black allele, but the chestnut allele is recessive. It only shows when two parents with a (possibly hidden) chestnut allele both pass on this allele. Chestnut can, therefore, stay hidden in a breed for a very long time!

Chestnut is not the only colour that can surprise breeders. For example, the silver gene can remain hidden in a complete chestnut family, and the seal brown allele can be masked by bay. There are more of these hidden colours, and sometimes they will appear in the game, just like in real life.

When there are colours in a breed, we always come across the problem of acceptance. Many breeds have colour restrictions. Some of these are fair. A shire horse with a cream gene must have had a non shire horse in its pedigree. But as cream can stay hidden behind a black coat, it can also remain unnoticed for very generations! So if unwanted colours show up in a breed, there is the possibility the horse is not purebred. Therefore, some colours are forbidden.

But some breeds have more impossible rules. A cremello new forest pony is not allowed, but a palomino or a buckskin is (with palomino unwanted for stallions though). However, each of these colours, cremello, palomino and buckskin (and a few others as well!) are caused by one single gene. One cream allele on bay, results in a buckskin. One cream allele on a chestnut results in a palomino. Two cream alleles (for example, when palominos or buckskins are crossed) can result in (for example) a cremello. So, eventually, when palominos and buckskins are accepted in a breed, every once in a while there will be unwanted cremellos (and perlinos and smokey creams). Only when breeding carefully, can these colours be avoided. But why are they unwanted? If palominos can be purebred new forest ponies, why is cremello not wanted? Well, it is commonly believed that horses with a very light coat and/or a light skin, are more vulnerable to the hot sun or different weather conditions. For that reason, some colours are avoided.

Lethal colours

Some colours can be lethal.

The three colours in this game that can be lethal, are ‘roan’, dominant white and frame. A horse with one allele of any of these genes is usually perfectly healthy and not restricted by its colour at all. You will not find adult horses with two of these alleles, however, as they die very early on in their development. There is no cure.

The best known dangerous colour is frame. The disease is commonly known as the ‘Lethal White Syndrome’. A horse with one frame allele shows a more ‘horizontal’ white pattern across its body. It is healthy and can be very striking and gorgeous. It is mostly known from American paint horses and quarter horses. However, if two horses with one frame allele are bred together, there is a 25% chance that the foal will have two frame alleles. This will result in a white foal that, unfortunately, will die within a few days after birth. The cause is a genetic problem and cannot be healed. A horse with one frame allele also has this problem but will show no symptoms as the other allele is healthy. Only when two alleles come together, does the foal die. Breeders must always pay attention and look for a suitable when breeding with a frame horse.

Two other possibly lethal colours are ‘dominant white’ and ‘(classic) roan’. Dominant white is very rare and has been recorded as an instant mutation in multiple times. It results in a horse that will actually turn (partially) white within a few years (this is completely different from grey!). The Franches-montage horses and the thoroughbreds can have this gene. A horse with one allele of this gene is, for as far as we can tell, completely healthy. It can, therefore, be safely bred to any horse with no frame allele at all. If two horses with the dominant white allele are bred together, there is a 25% chance the foal will not survive gestation. Owners of dominant white horses should be careful when breeding them.

The last colour with a possible lethal part is roan. Or more precise, classic roan. One should be really careful, the term ‘roan’ is often used in real life horse coats, but does not always refer to the genetic colour roan. Or classic roan. It has not been proven that a horse with two roan alleles cannot live. But neither is there real proof that it is not lethal. If it is, the foal dies very early after it is conceived, and usually the death will remain unnoticed. The mare can be covered again fairly quickly. Aside from that, it works just as dominant white and frame.

All these three colours will be lethal when homozygous (meaning, a foal has two alleles of the gene) in the game. So be careful when you’re trying to breed with these colours! Do remember, a horse with just one allele is perfectly healthy and can compete in any sport just like any other! In fact, some people like these colours so much, they would be perfectly happy having a horse with either of these colours!

If your horses have none of the genes mentioned above (frame, dominant white and (classic) roan), you should not worry at all. If your horses do, you can breed them to any other horse which does not have the same gene your horse has, without any problem. If however, you do choose to breed to horses with both parents having either frame, or dominant white, or (classic) roan, be prepared there is a 25% chance, the foal will not survive.

Media in category "Colour Genetics"

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