The many colors of American Quarter Horses

American Quarter Horses have 17 officially recognized colors and they are allowed limited white markings on the face and below the knees. These markings may be of a variety of shapes, including stockings, stars, strips, and blazes. However they are not permitted white spots or patches anywhere other than the face or cannon areas.

There is often confusion about the terminology of Quarter Horse coloring, and more than once I have brought in the wrong horse from the fields after being told by the trainer to ‘grab the sorrel gelding’ or the Dun (below) and not the Buckskin etc etc.

Dun Quarter Horse Jack

Colors of the Quarter Horse

Sorrel (red/brown)Body color reddish or copper-red; mane and tail usually same color as body, but may be flaxen. The most common color of American Quarter Horses.

Cremello, Light (or pink) skin over the body, white or cream-colored hair and blue eyes.

Perlino, Light (or pink) skin over the body, white or cream-colored hair and blue eyes. Mane, tail and lower legs slightly darker than body color.

Bay roan, black points, brown/bay head, roan body.

Red Roan, Red points, Roan body.

Red Roan Quarter Horse Italy

Blue Roan, BLACK points (including head), Roan body.

Gray mix of white with any other colored hairs; often born solid-colored or almost solid-colored and gets lighter with age as more white hairs appear

Red Dun, Dun with yellowish or flesh colored body ; mane, tail and dorsal stripe are red.

Buckskin. Black points, mane, and tail. Gold/yellow body. May have faint dorsal and countershading.

tuscany quarter horse buckskin

Dun, Body color yellowish or gold; mane and tail may be black, brown, red, yellow, white or mixed; often has dorsal stripe, zebra stripes on legs, transverse over withers

Chestnut, Body color dark red or brownish-red; mane and tail usually dark red or brownish-red but may be flaxen.

Bay, Body color ranging from tan, through red, to reddish brown; mane and tail black; black on lower legs.

Brown, Similar to black, but with brown on muzzle and flanks or larger area.

Black, Body color true black without light areas; mane and tail black.  Sun fading acceptable.

black quarter horse stallion italy

Palomino, Gold/yellow body and head, white mane/tail.

Grullo Black/dark points and dun factors, black or charcoal head, silver or grayish body with all body hairs being uniform in color.

White- the body color white. Skin is pink, but eyes are generally dark.Presence of  black spot ok on the skin, but usually not accompanied by colored hair. Some white horses may be variegated, meaning they have patches of colored hair, usually intermixed with white.

Confusion on your horses official coloring? The QHA is now offering several tests, including a panel test, individual color tests and gray zygosity test designed to determine the official coat color of a horse.


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