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Science: This is Why your Horse has White Markings

Often it creates huge attention when horse owners show their horses white markings – and for good reason. It brings a lot of talk and debate to the table and of course several beautiful pictures. It is fun to see how many special colors, spots and patterns a horse can actually have. Although there is not much scientific information on the matter, there is a bit of research that points to why these particular white markings actually appear on the fur of the horse. 

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The Taming of the Horse is the Beginning of the Markings 

Most of us have probably found our selves being fascinated when seeing a horse with unique markings. It can be different types of socks on the horse’s legs, maybe a different kind of blaze or a variegated color, where the marks actually look like something familiar for example an animal or an object. It can really become the talk of the town in the stable when a horse has a special expression because of markings.
Research also indicates that an increase in the incidence of several different colors has appeared, and the actual taming of the horse are most likely the reasons for the markings. This makes good sense, as breeders both now and in the past have focused on certain colors and markings, which are preferred within breeds. At the same time, the researchers also believe that the white markings depend on the general coat color of the horse, and the environment, in which the horse is raised.  

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The Beautiful Markings  

There is an incredible number of variations of especially white markings. You can see some of the examples here: 

A foal and its mother. Especially the foal has extraordinary markings. These can however change over time when the foal gets older.
Foto: Stock
Most horses have some kind of markings – also smaller ones like this. Foto: Stock
There is a huge difference in the markings. Some horses have wide blazes while others have more slim ones. Foto: Stock
Markings on the head of the horse can be separated like with this foal. Foto: Stock

This article was originally published in September, 2020 and has since been revised and edited.

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