Unlimited access >

Colour help! Flaxen?

Good day everyone!

I have been trying to determine the colour of one of our fillies.

2019 filly by Goodtimes and out of chestnut Vandavid x Julio Mariner KWPN mare. So a dark bay stallion and a chestnut mare.

filly was born with very pink skin and grey/blue eyes. Now they are quite dark brown. She looked like a chestnut foal but over the winter seemed to have lightened her mane and now is very flaxen. Her tail seems to have all the colours in it, from dark brown to white.




Help from those, who know colour would be greatly appreciated.





Chestnut has a wide range within that coloring, from a light sorrel with flaxen mane, like a Haflinger all to way to a deep red. She’s very pretty!


Chestnut with flaxen mane and tail. Pretty filly.


Thank you! I’m quite pleased with her.
just wasn’t sure if flaxen foals are born flaxen or with Chestnut main and tail.
do you think she will her lighter still?


Foals change a lot from their fluffy birth coat over the first year. I think in the last photo you likely have her adult color. It’s very striking! Chestnuts can have very interesting tails with a mix of colors. My chestnut Paint has a chestnut tail but there are black, brown, and flaxen hairs mixed in if you look carefully. I’m not sure if I’ve ever groomed a true flaxen chestnut :slight_smile: but I am sure they could also have a mix of hairs in addition to the white blonde color.

We had a chestnut mare whose mane and tail were flaxen in the spring and summer and chestnut in the fall and winter. (Her mane and tail were chestnut when she was born.)

1 Like

Thank you everyone!
That’s so interesting that the mane and tail changed with the coat too!
I guess it’s a wait and see sort of situation. I love her unusual colour and would love to understand genetics of it too.

@JB might be able to help.

Yep, chestnut with flaxen. And no, they aren’t usually born flaxen. What you saw is common - as they approach a year, flaxen starts appearing.

She may get lighter for a while, but then her mane and tail will likely start to darken. Some lines, especially in Arabians, tend to stay light flaxen their whole life. Most darken with age, mixing in darker and darker hairs for some cool multi-color effects. Sometimes that happens slowly, sometimes quickly, and sometimes it’s just the tail while the mane stays bright.

And, she looks like a REALLY nice filly! :yes:

1 Like

I’m not helpful at all, just want to say she’s adorable!

1 Like

OMG, she went from a red head to a blonde, changes her whole look.

1 Like

Thank you so much for the explanation! And how interesting! She really caught me off guard with the colour change :slight_smile:
And thank you for the compliment! I think she will be a very nice horse and her beautiful colour is a lovely bonus. Nice to get something unusual without trying to :slight_smile:

1 Like

Thank you! She is rather sweet if a little bit fiesty (as a chestnut mare should be I suppose)

I have a liver chestnut who is almost a buckskin in summer, and a deep deep red in winter. He has also decided over the past seven years that he would like to be an Appaloosa like his pasture mate and has grown white, black and dark chestnut spots.

I was taught, BHS, that sorrel horses had the orange-ish tint to their coats with flaxen mane and tail and the rest were chestnuts. According to that thought, she would be sorrel just like Haflingers and Belgians. Weird how it’s changed all around now.

The Jockey Club doesn’t recognize “sorrel” at all. TBs are classified as chestnut.

1 Like

ee makes a red base. Assuming no dilution, that’s chestnut, regardless of the Agouti status.

I never understood why the Western world got so hung up on sorrel vs chestnut, but all shades of bay are still just bay :lol:


Except for brown, which is a shade of bay. 😉 I have no problem with using sorrel. Differentiates between the thousands of orange QHs and the rest. 😄

1 Like

None of my QH people use the term chestnut, everything red is sorrel, and all shades of dark bay are black though. lol

I should check and see if the British Horse Society still teaches sorrel vs chestnut and the definitions they use now.

I have a brown TB but we call him the dark liver baynut because sometimes he looks liver chestnut and sometimes dark bay. lol

1 Like

Sorrel, like pinto and grulla, is a Spanish derived word and part of Western North American horse culture.

The advent of genetic testing for color has changed some aspects of how people understand color and pattern. It turns out there is no genetic difference between chestnut and sorrel, but on the other hand we don’t yet know why we get different shades of chestnut, or indeed of bay. Or why pinto patterns can express with very different amounts of white versus color patches.

Different areas or indeed different people can develop different names for the various shades of chestnut and bay. I think it’s interesting to have regional variations in horse words. I expect that if you have more horses in certain color schemes you develop more nuanced words for them. For instance, Britain got by with piebald and skewbald (black and white pinto, other color pinto), but the American West divided pintos into tobiano, overo, and sabino even before modern genetic testing.