[LMB] OT: Horse colours and language (was Counts' colors)

quietann quietann at gmail.com
Fri Jan 21 17:57:21 GMT 2011

On Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 8:08 AM, Anke Wehner <anke.wehner at gmail.com> wrote:
> Kevin Kennedy wrote:
> Katherine Collett:
>> It's less about the shade of brown than about the accessorizing-
>> -bays have black manes and tails and lower legs, chestnuts'
>> manes and tails are the same color as their coats or lighter.
>> Sorrel is just another word for chestnut.
> That reminds me of a report about a conlang, IIRC for the Song of Ice
> and Fire adaptation. "This language amazingly has more than 10 words
> for 'horse'!" I'm not much into horses, but even I knew you could
> easily find more than that in English before ever getting intp breed
> names. Reporters...
> Afaik bays are just called browns in German, and chestnuts are called foxes.

In the UK and US, "brown" and "bay" have always been considered
different colors.  Both have black "points" but the points are
distinct on a bay and not on a brown.  Most browns are pretty close to
black, and often get labeled "black" by mistake, but browns will have,
well, brownish shading around the muzzle.  But this is not 100%
helpful, because most black horses "sunburn"; their coats will fade if
they're out in the sun a lot.  And then... to make things even MORE
complicated, there's something called "smokey black", which is a black
horse with one copy of the cream gene, and these often look brown.

What's happening now, with DNA-typing for horses, is that specific
genes that match specific colors are being identified -- so
record-keeping is getting even more accurate as it also gets even more

For the record, my horse is a palomino, which is a chestnut with one
copy of the cream gene; it fades the mane and tail to near-white, and
the shimmer on her summer coat is gold rather than red as it is for
chestnuts.  However, because one of her parents is a dark liver
chestnut (another color that can look almost black), her gold coat is
very deep, and her mane and tail ar not pure white, but white, gold,
and black (or very dark liver chestnut) mixed together.  And then...
there's something called a "flaxen chestnut" which can look exactly
like a dark palomino except the sheen on the coat should be red, not
gold, but it's really hard to tell the difference.  Haflinger and
Belgian horses, which can look palomino, are flaxen chestnuts.  And in
my horse's breed (Morgan), for a long time palominos were registered
as flaxen chestnuts, because the palomino coloring was thought to be a
sign of impurity.  (Completely forgotten: the Morgan is a "mutt"
horse; they are all descended in tail-male line from Justin Morgan,
but until the registry was closed, all kinds of other horses were
crossed in and the offspring were registered as Morgans.)

quietann at gmail.com

aka "The Accidental Jewess"

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