Breeding for Blankets – Case Study #1

Breeding for Blankets – Case Study #1

One of the best ways to learn about the complex topic of appaloosa coat pattern inheritance is to look at living examples.  When a breeder performs the same cross multiple times, we can witness both the similarities and the variety that genetics can contribute. 

In this article and the two that follow, we will examine the results of crosses between specific stallions and mares.  We will study the appearance of the parents and their grandparents, and occasionally other foals, in order to further understand what the parents are potentially able to pass on to their offspring.

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PATN1 Discovery and What it Means for Breeders

The saying, “It takes a leopard to make a leopard” is a familiar one to many Appaloosa breeders. 

In order to identify the genetic mechanism behind the leopard-specific appaloosa spotting pattern, we began by looking at the progeny records of several stallions.  We decided to use few spot and snowcap stallions for this study because they are homozygous for LP (read more about LP)  thus all of the offspring would have a spotting pattern or at least characteristics which enabled us to track the amount of white spotting on a large number of horses.  

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Appaloosa Roan Patterning

Appaloosa roan is one of the characteristic traits caused by the inheritance of LP.  It is often referred to as 'varnish roan' because of the distinctive dark areas that appear over the bony areas of the body, while the fleshy regions of the body develop a progressive amount of white hairs.

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Appaloosa manes and tails

Thin manes and tails are a common trait in LP-carrying horses.

Some animals are much more severely affected than others. The basecoat colour of the horse appears to be connected, with black and black-point colours being the ones to potentially suffer greater hair loss.

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Rabicano roan

Rabicano roan patterning is found in a number of breeds, including the Appaloosa.

Photos in this album show whole body views and closeups of details which help to identify rabicano.

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Appaloosa patterning - vertical stripes

Appaloosas and their kin may show vertical white bands or stripes on their barrels.

Most commonly this is seen on horses that have white pattern levels ranging between 50 and 80%. This pattern is similar to the vertical roan patterning found on rabicano roan horses.

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