All About The Chestnut Horse

Last Updated on February 21, 2022 by Allison Price

What is a chestnut-colored pony? This is a multimillion-dollar question that has been debated over the years. The color of chestnut horses can range from pale to dark coffee, as well as all shades between. Although most associations recognize chestnut, they don’t agree on the terminology for each color.

One thing that breed associations agree on is that chestnut horses have a reddish brown coat with no black spots. Points are the mane, tail and legs as well as the eyes. Black hairs around the points of a horse cannot be registered as a chestnut. Although there are darker hairs around the eyes they cannot be considered black. Horse color is determined by the horse’s genetic makeup. This informative website explains more about the genetics behind chestnut colors.

Chestnut Horse

Isn’t it a reddish-brown fur coat?

Equiworld states that sorrel originated in the West, while Chestnut comes from England. Both refer to reddish brown coats. Horses can have a variety of shades of reddish brown coats. Each association has its own standards, based on the genetic makeup of each member and the color they prefer. Most associations refer to the lighter shades of red as Sorrel, and the darker ones as Chestnut. It is important to know the standards of each association so that you can register your horse as the correct color. Even if registration is not your goal, it’s still important to know the exact color of the horse if you intend to breed, sell, or brag to neighbors.

Practical Horseman magazine states that there are four basic colors of chestnut. These basic shades are available in a variety of tones.

  • The Liver Chestnuthorse is chocolate brown in color. The tail and mane are the same color. There are two types: the dark liver chestnut or the light liver chestnut.
  • The Flaxen Chestnut is a reddish brown body with a flaxen tail and mane. This is the only chestnut colour where the tail and mane are different colors from the body. Flaxen is a creme color.
  • Light Chestnut can also be called “sandy-chestnut”. The entire horse is a sand color.
  • Red Chestnut is available in red or a shine like a copper penny. The tail and mane are the same color.

Color names are determined by the breed association.

A mealy effect is required for those who have a gentle giant draft horse. The genetic modification that causes the mealy effect is called “Mealy Effect”. To determine if your horse has the mealy effect look for yellowish or lighter hairs along the flanks, under the elbows and inside the legs. You may also notice lighter hairs around the eyes or on the muzzle. The mealy effect can cause multiple shades of red. This can be different for each draft breed association.

A mealy effect is not required for the Belgian draft horse registry. A sorrel Belgian may be light yellow with pale spots. Chestnut Belgian also refers to darker reds.

The Suffolk draft horse is always Chestnut. There are seven types of tone: liver (dark, red), copper, gold, yellow (gold), and light (lead).

American Quarter Horse Association

Sorrel, and Chestnut are the most loved colors of American Quarter Horse Association. The Chestnut horse is darker than the other reddish-browns. Sometimes they can be confused with a seal-brown. Although they may look black, the points are actually dark brown. To determine the dominant color, a genetic test called red factor is necessary. The association recognizes flaxen chestnut. A flaxen chestnut may sometimes be confused with a coco Palomino.

Canadian Horse Breeders Association

Canadian Horse Breeders Association is in agreement with other associations about one thing: there can’t be any black on a chestnut horse’s manes, legs or face. This registry recognizes four types of chestnuts.

  1. A Pale Chestnut looks very much like a Palomino with a pale, even colour. The only difference is that the tail and mane are often reddish-blonde, not creme-colored like a Palomino.
  2. A golden Chestnut may have any color on its points, except black. The coat is a golden color with a reddish tint. They are darker than the Clear and Pale Chestnut.
  3. A Dark Chestnut is characterized by darker points than the body. They are typically reddish-brown. They can have a range of colors from pale copper to rich brown.
  4. A Burnt Chestnuthas dark reddish-brown or dark brown points. The color of the coat is rich and almost black.

What horse breeds are chestnut-colored?

Breeds with solid colors can have chestnut coloring. Some breeds use Chestnut as their base color with white markings. Check with your breed association for information about the terms used to describe different shades.

There are many horse breeds that are recognized all over the globe. This partial list shows the solid color breeds that recognize chestnut colors at some level. Many have different terms to describe different shades of Chestnut.

There are many breeds with solid colors, including Arabian, Morgan and American Saddlebred.

The American Paint Horse, Appaloosa and Icelandic are all breeds that use Chestnut as their base color with white markings or patterns.

This article is only a small part of the requirements for association membership regarding chestnut color. To determine the definition of the chestnut color, it is important to contact the breed registry.

Are you a proud owner of a chestnut horse Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!