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Learn All About Horses
Horse Color Series

Duns, Grullas, and Buckskins

by Barbara Power

Dun
Many people that have raised and ridden dun horses claim that dun is more than a color and that dun horses are tougher, both physically and mentally, than horses of other colors. Others are concerned that the dun color is a symbol of wild or impure breeding and indeed many primitive and wild horse herds are prominently dun. But the dun horse is neither impure nor undesirable, and is prized for the uniqueness and beauty of its coloring.

The dun gene is a dominate modifying (or dilution) gene meaning that when present in a horses genetic profile, it will control the coloration and markings of the horse. The dun color is created when the dominant dun gene combines with a bay, sorrel, or black gene. The dun gene dilutes or lightens the basic color, while leaving the point colors of the head, mane, tail and legs untouched. The dun gene also adds its own distinctive marking in the form of a dark dorsal stripe down the backbone. It also adds, in various degrees, other primitive or Dun Factor Markings such as a dark stripe across the withers, zebra or tiger stripes on the legs and hocks, silvering on the mane, and cobwebbing or shadow striping on the ears, face, and shoulders.

There is a vast variety of dun coat colors, ranging from cream (if the cremello gene is also present) to various shades of tan to blue-tinted charcoals. The most common are the tans, which occur when the dun gene combines with bay. Bay-dun colors range from crme to dark bronze with dun factor markings of dark brown or black. Some names for bay duns include zebra dun, golden dun, and coyote dun.

Red Dun and Grulla
Red duns are created when a dun gene combines with a sorrel (chestnut) gene. Typically red duns have the dorsal stripe and can have any of the dun factor markings, but do not have black points (mane, tail, legs, head). Shades can range from a light red to sandy red to dark bronze red, and are identified with such names as red dun, claybank dun, muddy dun, orange dun, and apricot dun.

The grulla or grullo (grew ya) is the rarest of horse colors and occurs when the dun gene combines with and dilutes black or seal brown. Grulla-horse colors range from pale bluish silver to dark charcoal and are often referred to as mouse or slate colored. The grulla is a true dun and will therefore have the dorsal stripe. The occurrence and prominence of other dun markings depend entirely upon the horses unique genetic coding.

Buckskin
Buckskins and duns are often confused because of the similarity of the color and markings. Some duns have the distinctive golden coat with black points of the buckskin, and are therefore recognized as buckskins. However, not all buckskins are dun. Visually the difference is in the dorsal stripe, as duns will always have a full or partial line down the back.

The non-lineback buckskin actually contains the cremello gene instead of the dun gene. This is the same modifying (or diluting) gene that produces the palomino color. When this gene combines with a basic bay gene, a buckskin is produced; two cremello genes and the result is perlino. When one cremello is combined with a sorrel (chestnut), a palomino is born. When more than one cremello gene is present, the horse will be a pale yellow, off-white, or cream color, and is called cremello.

Mules
Mules are also affected by the dun factor and can be any shade of dun. Mules with the dun gene often show their coloring more dramatically than do their horse counterparts, in that the markings are often more pronounced and exotic.

Duns and Buckskins are bred and admired for their unique color and for performance ability. Their popularity continues to grow and the more unusual dun colors (like the grulla) are becoming more common because of specialized breeding for that color.

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The American Buckskin Registry Association (http://www.americanbuckskin.org) lists the following color requirements for registry:

BUCKSKIN: Body coat some shade of tan, from very light (creme) to very dark (bronze). Points (mane, tail, legs and ear frames) are black or dark brown. Dorsal not required.

DUN: Body coat some shade of tan, from very light (creme) to a dull or smutty brown (earth tone). Points, dorsal stripe and other dun factor markings are dirty black or smutty brown. There are many shades and variations in the dun color. A dorsal stripe required.

Note: The buckskin colored horse with dun factor (dorsal stripe, leg barring, ear frames, shoulder stripes, face masking and cobwebbing) is the ideal color that ABRA was founded to preserve over thirty years ago.

RED DUN: Body coat a reddish tan without the range of shades as seen in the other colors. Points and dun factor points are a reddish brown and must show contrast with the body coat. Dorsal stripe required.

GRULLA: (Grew-ya) Body coat slate colored (bluish gray as the blue heron) from light blue gray to a brownish shade. Points and dun factor markings are black. Dorsal stripe required. The color Grulla is the rarest of all horse body coat colors. The word Grulla is Spanish and translated into English is "crane".

Note: There are many variations in the colors and for this reason we insist on eight good colored pictures of each animal to determine eligibility. Many times these horses will be found to have a fringe of cream, dun or grulla colored hairs along the edge of the mane and at the base of the tail.

 


Name That Color: Sorrel vs. Chestnut


by Barbara Power



Genetically speaking chestnut and sorrel are the same color. HOWEVER, in the practical, every day world of horses, the difference in definitions and opinions surrounding these two terms is both noteworthy and confusing.

The one common factor among all factions is that both sorrel and chestnut horses exhibit some variation of the color red. Keep in mind that this red ranges all the way from a light blond-red to an orange-red to a copper-red to a dark red to the deepest dark liver-colored red. This wide range of color variations contributes to (or directly causes) the name-that-color controversy.

It is also generally accepted that neither sorrels nor chestnuts have black points (points are the mane, tail, and lower legs). A black mane and tail, with or without black leg marking, automatically places the horses in a different color bracket and into a different controversial topic (to be discussed in a separate article). Finally, the third common factor is the acceptance of the possibility of white points (mane, tail, legs) and facial markings.

Outside of these three facts, the differences are defined strictly by whatever person or discipline is being asked. Many people, including The American Quarter Horse Association, recognize two different colors, with chestnut being the darker, deeper reds and sorrel the lighter shades of red.

Others promote the two color format, but use different criteria to define the differences. They may recognize red horses with flaxen (light colored) mane and tails as sorrels, and identify all others (red horses) as chestnut. Still other people divide them into disciplines: western horses are deemed sorrels, while horses ridden English are called chestnut. And then, some people and breed registries recognize only one or the other, denouncing the need for two separate terms.

Ultimately the choice is yours. Feel free to choose your preference and either join the controversy or quietly respect the other persons right to believe differently than you do. After all, you can always silently feel sorry for the poor soul who doesnt know a sorrel from a chestnut. I guarantee, if your thinking that about them, they are thinking the same about you.

Welcome to the wonderful world of horse people and the horses that love them.


Name That Color: Sorrel vs. Chestnut


by Barbara Power



Genetically speaking chestnut and sorrel are the same color. HOWEVER, in the practical, every day world of horses, the difference in definitions and opinions surrounding these two terms is both noteworthy and confusing.

The one common factor among all factions is that both sorrel and chestnut horses exhibit some variation of the color red. Keep in mind that this red ranges all the way from a light blond-red to an orange-red to a copper-red to a dark red to the deepest dark liver-colored red. This wide range of color variations contributes to (or directly causes) the name-that-color controversy.

It is also generally accepted that neither sorrels nor chestnuts have black points (points are the mane, tail, and lower legs). A black mane and tail, with or without black leg marking, automatically places the horses in a different color bracket and into a different controversial topic (to be discussed in a separate article). Finally, the third common factor is the acceptance of the possibility of white points (mane, tail, legs) and facial markings.

Outside of these three facts, the differences are defined strictly by whatever person or discipline is being asked. Many people, including The American Quarter Horse Association, recognize two different colors, with chestnut being the darker, deeper reds and sorrel the lighter shades of red.

Others promote the two color format, but use different criteria to define the differences. They may recognize red horses with flaxen (light colored) mane and tails as sorrels, and identify all others (red horses) as chestnut. Still other people divide them into disciplines: western horses are deemed sorrels, while horses ridden English are called chestnut. And then, some people and breed registries recognize only one or the other, denouncing the need for two separate terms.

Ultimately the choice is yours. Feel free to choose your preference and either join the controversy or quietly respect the other persons right to believe differently than you do. After all, you can always silently feel sorry for the poor soul who doesnt know a sorrel from a chestnut. I guarantee, if your thinking that about them, they are thinking the same about you.

Welcome to the wonderful world of horse people and the horses that love them.


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