Champagne is a dilution that appeared only very recently in the New World, though has since spread across a wide number of breeds in its short life span, including but not limited to: American quarter horse, paint horse, Tennessee walking horse, saddlebred, miniature horse and the American cream draft horse. Due to its absence in South American breeds, the dilution is believed to not have come from the imported iberian horses, but to have mutated later in North America. As such, it is only present in horses with North American lineages. With the rising popularity of these animals, the colour is now also found in Europe and further, though always through import at some point in the horse's life or pedigree.
Though individuals with the dilution have existed for nearly a century, the colour was not recognized as unique until the 1990's, leading to the establishment of the International Champagne Horse Registry in 2000. Coincidentally, it was through this registry that the pearl allele was eventually discovered.
The champagne dilution affects both red and black pigment. Red hair becomes gold, while black hair is diluted to a more chocolate brown, often best described as the colour of a Weimaraner dog. Often, a bright iridescence gives the coat a beautiful metallic look. The skin colour ranges from pink to lavender, with dark freckles. Eyes are amber or hazel.
Foals are born with blue eyes and a much darker coat colour, which lightens quickly. Their skin is more pink, with freckles only appearing in abundance as they age. Homozygous horses are nearly impossible to distinguish from heterozygous horses.
Chestnut + champagne = gold champagne
With chestnut horses, the red pigment is diluted to a golden yellow. Mane and tail are often lightend to nearly white, but they may also remain dark and keep the coat's shade. This colour is easily confused with palomino. The main difference is the skin colour, which is diluted to a freckled pink with gold champagne, whereas palominos keep a dark grey skin.
Classic ChampagneBlack + Champagne = classic champagne
When champagne dilutes a black horse, the skin colour becomes chocolate brown, with a teint of mauve, best described as the colour of a Weimaraner dog. The mane, tail and legs turn the colour of chocolate brown, though the legs may be slightly lighter than the mane and tail. The skin is lavender pink with freckles.
Amber ChampagneBay + Champagne = amber champagne
The red coat from a bay horse is diluted to a golden shade similar to that of a gold champagne, but the mane, tail and legs keep the chocolate brown similar to that of a classic champagne. The contrast between the legs and the body may be very small, to the point where the brown is virtually non-existant on the legs.
Amber champagnes can be confused with buckskins, though the skin on a buckskin is grey, while a amber champagne's is diluted to a lavender pink.
The seal brown version is called sable champagne, and can visually be hard to distinguish from both amber and classic champagne.