A Note about Sugarbush Draft Horses

I see it over and over again, and no matter how many times it's said, it's still wrong. "Sugarbush Drafts are just an Appaloosa Draft Cross". Uh.... no. The Sugarbush Draft Horse was a breed created many years ago in Ohio. While the initial cross was made using Percherons to Appaloosas, in the many generations following, the breed has been solidified into a consistent type. Saying these horses are "just" a draft cross makes as much sense as saying that AQHA horses are "just" a Thoroughbred cross, American Cream Drafts are "just" a dilute Belgian, or that Morgans are "just" a grade.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

White face and leg markings

One of the most common types of patterns seen on horses are face and leg markings.  There's also a bit of a debate surrounding these markings.  Some say that Sabino is present with any face/leg marking, while others say that many are "birthmarks" and that they just happen.

I'm not sure a study has ever been done to determine who is correct.  We do know that face and leg markings are inherited, and that sabino (which is actually a group of genes) causes certain characteristics to be seen on face and leg markings.  We also know that other genes affect face and leg markings as well, such as splash and Overo (OLWS). I think that much of the sabino debate is due to people wanting their horse to have some "cool" pattern, and the recent acceptance of excessive white in many breeds from Arabians and Thoroughbreds to the white rules in AQHA.

Certain types and locations of these markings are considered normal.  Socks, blazes, stars, and stockings are all easily accepted markings on a "solid" horse.  Then you have something like this filly shows.  Her blaze is irregular, and even has a hole in one area of it, and a displaced section of white on the opposite side.  This is Soliloquy, a Stonewall Sport Horse filly whose name I usually shorten to Soli.  Her dam has both sabino and splash (black mare shown below), while her sire carries sabino.  Soli's markings show mostly traits of sabino, but there are a few signs that show she is also carrying splash.

Ever wonder how to tell the difference?

Sabino markings tend to be pointy.  Sharp areas on blazes and socks that point towards the belly.  Also, white on the lower lip is a big indicator of sabino.  The chestnut shown below has classic sharp sections around his nostrils, and the black has obvious white on his lower lip.  Both horses are suspected to have minimum sabino.
For many people these markings look perfectly normal, and they are.  But splash tends to cause face markings that are heavier on the bottom, and often rounded or apron shaped.  Here are a few examples of splash blazes.
Granted, both mares above are giveaways because of those blue eyes - which is most often a trait of splash.  You can also see though, that while the blazes are very different, both are heavier on the bottom, and are mostly smooth shaped.  Below is a mare with a large face marking showing traits of both sabino and splash.
This is Jinx, one of my foundation Sugarbush mares.  On her left side (the first image) she shows classic sabino signs, including the blaze that goes under the lip, and a few subtle hints of splash, such as the width of the blaze and rounded nature of it.  On her right (second image) she has a "dipped in paint" appearance that is often seen with splash, and is always present when splash goes under the chin.  Also notice the sharp pointy effect around her eye, and in her cheek area?  Those are signs of sabino.  Jinx is a good example of how common markings can give us clues as to minimal white patterns carried by a horse.

Then there are leg markings.  Sabino leg markings are pointy (see a pattern here?) and usually are higher towards the belly.  The only horse I have that shows this carries both sabino and splash, but I think you can get the idea.  Yes, she's also very pregnant in this picture.
On the other hand, splash markings tend to be even on all 4 legs, or close to it.  The seal bay mare shown below has even socks, but they all point backwards.  This is occassionally seen on both splash and sabino horses.  With the prevalence of sabino in appaloosas, it's reasonable to assume from the sharp tops of her socks that the seal bay mare also carries sabino in addition to her splash.
On the other hand, not all splash horses have 4 white legs.  Arden, shown below, only has 3 white socks, which are close, but not perfectly even.  She shows no obvious signs of sabino, but again, due to the breed, we can't rule it out.
But what about horses who don't have that much white?  Here's a mare with no leg markings, and only a small amount of white on her forehead:
Her appaloosa colored colt has almost the exact same white marking as well, and neither has any leg markings.  Could these be from embryonic development?  In other words a birth mark?  Science has yet to prove it, although neither she, nor the foal show signs of additional effects of other white patterns.

As for those "other effects" well, genes like sabino, splash and frame (commonly called frame white, or overo) have an effect on other white patterns.  These are called "enhancer genes".  It is a well documented fact that horses with excessive white face and leg markings tend to show more white in their patterns as well, both pinto and appaloosa patterns.

Base coat color also plays a role.  Dominant extension (E) is a suppressor of white patterns, while recessive extension (e) is an enhancer.  What does that mean?  Well, a horse that is Ee will have a smaller blanket then a horse that is ee, and a horse that is EE will have an even smaller blanket then the heterozygote.  Agouti is an enhancer gene, and it's effects have been documented even when the gene is hidden.  A horse with the genome ee AA will have a larger pattern then a horse with the genome ee aa.  To make it somewhat easy to remember, we often say that black supresses the most, then bay (a little suppression and a little enhancing), then chestnut. 

These suppressors and enhancers will become important when I talk about appaloosa color genetics.  There are MANY genes that have a suppression or enhancing role in color, and not all of them are known.  In some cases we know that certain family lines, or breeds have "suppressors" but we don't know exactly what causes it. 

This is why genetics tends to get so confusing.  There's so much going on at the same time, and genes can have multiple roles.  In many cases people ignore the supression and enhancing traits, and simply work on the basic genetics of the coat color, but if you want to breed for a very specific pattern (such as minimal paints, or leopard appaloosas) then these additional effects must be taken into consideration.

Many of the same genes that cause face and leg white markings can also cause pinto patterns with a "louder" expression.  Splash is most commonly seen as face and leg white, but is most commonly associated with high chrome horses.  Frame is ususally expressed as a pinto pattern, but can "hide" in face and leg markings only.  These pinto patterns being expressed as only "normal" white markings are often refered to as "minimal" (insert type of pattern).  Such as a minimal splash, or minimal frame.

Now, for your test......

What pattern genes would you suspect this foal of having?

There are 3 patterns at work here.  Lets see who can guess!

21 comments:

  1. Uh oh! No guesses on the test?

    I'll make it a bit easier... one of the patterns is Appaloosa (he's a near fewspot, or snowcap). He has 2 genes that affect his face and leg markings though. I figured the eye shot would pretty much give it away.

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  2. Pinz (Is it okay to call you Pinz?)--I had a fairly complex comment all composed this morning, but as I hit "submit" the whole thing evaporated into cyberspace! And I was on my way out the door for an all-day trail ride...

    My guess on the colt was splash, sabino and Appaloosa.

    YOur comments on the pointy spots and leg markings makes me wonder about both of my mares. I had a couple of photos picked out to include to see what you thought. I know they both carry frame (part of my OLWS education) but I'm beginning to think they might have one or both of the "other" overos as well.
    Here's Kate:
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_h8Tp8AXdL5I/S1u4ANbgkVI/AAAAAAAACEs/lKaeJPmh7dA/s1600-h/DSC_4365.JPG
    And Maddie, on her apron-face/blue eye side (the other is plain black with blaze):
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_h8Tp8AXdL5I/SaCIPvynKZI/AAAAAAAAARk/ZFMqooQc-Ug/s1600-h/DSC_4393.JPG
    It's interesting to note that Maddie has an older brother that was solid black, except for one of those up-side-down blazes...
    What do you think?

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  3. Ha, Evensong, you got to guess before Kate for once!

    Sure, you can call me Pinz, or you can call me Heather (as my name is all over everything here, it's not hard to figure out) I'll answer to either. =)

    As for Kate, yeah, I'd say Sabino is a definate, and I'd wonder about splash as well with her. Frame for the body spots and intriguing face marking, but frame hates the legs. Sabino loves the legs, and makes for the pointy bits. But with 4 white feet (front right has a bit of white at the hoof) and a blaze that looks dipped like that... I'd be suspiscious. Of course, depending upon what the other side looks like - if it's less white on her right, then splash is less likely.

    As for Maddie, Definitely tobiano in there, making up most of her pinto markings, but also I would think splash. I'm not seeing Frame on her though... but again, I'm not the best frame person out there. A couple of interesting bobbles in her spots, like on her neck, and behind the back girth could be indicative of frame, but for her I'd definitely test for OLWS. If I had to guess, I'd say tobiano, splash and sabino, no frame.

    It's been my experience that splash hides really well in other markings, but those blue eyes usually scream "I'm here" for it. I've heard some people say sabino can cause blue eyes as well, but I've never seen it in person, so tend to be doubtful. Every blue eyed horse I have seen is hiding splash, or a double dilute.

    Also, those dark markings on her lips and muzzle tend to be common when splash and sabino mix. I call them beauty marks, and just love them.

    BUT, with that said, there's a whole debate on Clydesdales and splash. Some clydes can have blue eyes, and pretty much every clyde has sabino - often a few types of sabino! So, they could be an example of sabino induced blue eyes.

    And interestingly, splash can really hide on a horse with a lot of supressors. I once saw the most lovely black mare with blue eyes and NO white markings... she had an obvious splash foal from a non splash sire.

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  4. This is a little off topic but I have an Arabian filly with a star that is constantly changing size and shape. I never knew face markings changed very much but every few months her 'star' looks different. She was born with a round "plume" like star which changed to a skinny "f" and then a round star, back to a fat "f" and then so on. I'm sure the hair growth is causing the changes but I've never seen this before. Would this be an example of a birth mark?

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  5. It would really depend. Any marking can change shape like that, especially if the horse underneath is growing. The head grows wider between the eyes, and the star gets more round (stretched sideways). The face grows long, and it gets thin (stretched vertically). Any marking could do that.

    And as most of us know, horses tend to grow in really weird ways... and it's worse if you're trying to sell them. (They area always gawky the day someone comes to look at them).

    Of course, since you said Arabian, it tends to make me want to guess Sabino. Granted, Arabs can have birthmarks (which are really just pigment cells not spreading all the way across the horse in utero). Birthmarks though tend to be out of place markings. A white spot that doesn't fit with the rest of what you know about the horse's genetics.

    With the arab cross mare above, her colt is what made me suspect a birth mark. Her colt shows no signs of sabino enhancement of his appy pattern (sabino makes for smaller dots, I'll get into that more later) so, the head marking doesn't fit what I know about her, or his genetics.

    And yes, birthmarks can be passed on! Not all of them, but some. So there would have to be some type of a genetic component to them as well (such as genetic coding for embryonic development). Some though, are just from the foal being too hot, cold, shoved against mom, nutrition deficiencies/surpluses and such. Those types won't pass on.

    Did I help at all, or just dork out?

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  6. Heather it is, then!
    Maddie has been tested for OLW, as her half-sister the year before had the syndrome. And she did test positive for frame. But I didn't even think to check on the other overo expressions--I just wanted to know about the possibilities of her having a lethal foal, as the plan (at the time) was for her to be her dam's replacement as a broodmare.
    Here's Kate's other side:
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_h8Tp8AXdL5I/SlrDSFWOqwI/AAAAAAAABM0/8IOgEs3WibQ/s1600-h/DSC_0513.JPG
    Notice she has the little black corners on her mouth, too, and you could just see in the previous photo that she has a palm-sized "hole" at the top of her blaze on the left side (half hidden under her forelock), as well as "eyeliner" around that eye.
    It would be very interesting if both of them had a similar combination of patterns, as they actually are not related, but each is a half-sister to the lethal white foal that we had (Maddie's mama, Kate's daddy). It just illustrates how intermingled the overos are, because no one really knew the differences until the genetics were decoded.
    btw--Kate (the blogger) is at a clinic this weekend. That's probably the only reason I beat her to the punch, especially considering the lost morning comment.

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  7. Oh good to know that Kate (the person, not the horse) is away, as I was about to give the answer to my test!

    And yeah, Kate the horse looks like sabino/splash with that blaze. I mean, it's pretty darned close to my draft mare's that I used in my example.

    So sorry that you learned about lethal white the hard way. I had no idea about it either, but i learned from someone else when I was a vet tech. Horrible experience.

    At the same time, my vet also had a solid white foal that was NOT lethal white, but was out of 2 "overo" horses. One was sabino, the other frame, so no chance of lethal white... but they didn't know that back then. Overo was just Overo.

    So I think that the only real difference in your horses is the mount of expression, and that Maddie also has tobiano.

    I know that many paint breeders like to add as many patterns as possible, to get the loudest foal they can. Er, well.... back when I worked with paint breeders in the 90s. In paints, that seems to be acceptable, but in appaloosa colors, oh NO... mixing patterns is BAD. Splash white on an appy... just evil!

    Although, I have to mention here that I just LOVE splash white, and as you can see, I have quite a bit of it. And Sugarbush/Stonewall don't have restrictions for excessive white face and leg markings.

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  8. Oh yeah... as for the test... it's close enough to midnight...

    The foal shown is O Stop Looking, by Sugarbush Harley's Classic O (Ee aa LPlp with sabino) out of Quagga's Ardent Sun (ee ?a LPLP with splash). Arden is the mare shown above both jumping, and as the left example of a splash blaze.

    Daltrey, as he has recently been renamed, shows homozygous leopard complex with a large pattern (large blanket) as well as splash from his dam, and sabino from his sire.

    He got the most color from what either of his parents had to offer.

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  9. I was going to guess splash - don't see the sabino - what am I missing?

    Our Lily might have some splash and sabino going on - she's gotten a lot of white on her bottom lip, and has a more than hock high pointed sock on one hind and a pointy half sock on her other hind.

    Our Norman is an overo, but he has the dark dot in the middle of his blaze and of course the overo pattern itself is pretty pointy in the white - is overo related to sabino or completely different?

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  10. Heather and Leah,
    Here's the link to my blog entry about "Overo Lethal White Syndrome." I, unfortunately, was not near as educated about it as I should have been if I was breeding Paints, especially because I prefer the Overo pattern over Tobiano. It's a bit more complex than the post presents (as I'm learning here from the discussion of sabino and splash) but you'll get the drift.
    http://mountaintrailmusic.blogspot.com/2010/01/on-wings-of-angel.html

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  11. Kate, sabino is super hard to see on him. The ticking on his chestnut areas is caused by sabino. It's actually sabino enhancing his appy coloring to cause that effect, but since it looked a lot like the pinto sabino effect, I thought it would get someone to guess it. Mostly though, his sabino is shown in his appaloosa pattern (I'll get into that later, because it's a bit convoluted).

    I was trying to make it a bit harder =)

    Kate, Overo is actually the term used to describe a combination of "other" pinto genes with high expression. It includes sabino, splash and frame white, and dominant white.

    Frame white causes Overo Lethal White Syndrome, or OLWS. A horse homozygous for the dominant copy of frame is called a "lethal white foal". This is a very sad thing. These foals are born completely white, and their intestines do not work. They always die within 72 hours (usually are euthanized well before that) and there is no way to save them.

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  12. That is so sad. I don't know anything about paints except that I'm very partial to a certain type of markings, which, it turns out, are frame overos.

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  13. Kate, sabino is super hard to see on him. The ticking on his chestnut areas is caused by sabino. It's actually sabino enhancing his appy coloring to cause that effect, but since it looked a lot like the pinto sabino effect, I thought it would get someone to guess it. Mostly though, his sabino is shown in his appaloosa pattern (I'll get into that later, because it's a bit convoluted).

    I was trying to make it a bit harder =)

    Kate, Overo is actually the term used to describe a combination of "other" pinto genes with high expression. It includes sabino, splash and frame white, and dominant white.

    Frame white causes Overo Lethal White Syndrome, or OLWS. A horse homozygous for the dominant copy of frame is called a "lethal white foal". This is a very sad thing. These foals are born completely white, and their intestines do not work. They always die within 72 hours (usually are euthanized well before that) and there is no way to save them.

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  14. I was going to guess splash - don't see the sabino - what am I missing?

    Our Lily might have some splash and sabino going on - she's gotten a lot of white on her bottom lip, and has a more than hock high pointed sock on one hind and a pointy half sock on her other hind.

    Our Norman is an overo, but he has the dark dot in the middle of his blaze and of course the overo pattern itself is pretty pointy in the white - is overo related to sabino or completely different?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Ha, Evensong, you got to guess before Kate for once!

    Sure, you can call me Pinz, or you can call me Heather (as my name is all over everything here, it's not hard to figure out) I'll answer to either. =)

    As for Kate, yeah, I'd say Sabino is a definate, and I'd wonder about splash as well with her. Frame for the body spots and intriguing face marking, but frame hates the legs. Sabino loves the legs, and makes for the pointy bits. But with 4 white feet (front right has a bit of white at the hoof) and a blaze that looks dipped like that... I'd be suspiscious. Of course, depending upon what the other side looks like - if it's less white on her right, then splash is less likely.

    As for Maddie, Definitely tobiano in there, making up most of her pinto markings, but also I would think splash. I'm not seeing Frame on her though... but again, I'm not the best frame person out there. A couple of interesting bobbles in her spots, like on her neck, and behind the back girth could be indicative of frame, but for her I'd definitely test for OLWS. If I had to guess, I'd say tobiano, splash and sabino, no frame.

    It's been my experience that splash hides really well in other markings, but those blue eyes usually scream "I'm here" for it. I've heard some people say sabino can cause blue eyes as well, but I've never seen it in person, so tend to be doubtful. Every blue eyed horse I have seen is hiding splash, or a double dilute.

    Also, those dark markings on her lips and muzzle tend to be common when splash and sabino mix. I call them beauty marks, and just love them.

    BUT, with that said, there's a whole debate on Clydesdales and splash. Some clydes can have blue eyes, and pretty much every clyde has sabino - often a few types of sabino! So, they could be an example of sabino induced blue eyes.

    And interestingly, splash can really hide on a horse with a lot of supressors. I once saw the most lovely black mare with blue eyes and NO white markings... she had an obvious splash foal from a non splash sire.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Uh oh! No guesses on the test?

    I'll make it a bit easier... one of the patterns is Appaloosa (he's a near fewspot, or snowcap). He has 2 genes that affect his face and leg markings though. I figured the eye shot would pretty much give it away.

    ReplyDelete
  17. splash, sabino, 2x apalloosa

    ReplyDelete
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