Last Updated on November 18, 2022
Horses are famous for their beautiful brown eyes, but can horses have blue eyes too? And how do you get a rare blue eye horse? Let’s find out everything about horse eye color!
What Color Eyes Do Horses Have?
In terms of structure and color, horses’ eyes are very similar to humans. Most of the eyeball is white, but we rarely see this white part as it is towards the back of the eye. A horse that is frightened, nervous, or scared may roll its eyes, enabling you to see these white parts.
Towards the front of the eye is a large colored area called the iris. And at the center of the iris is an area that appears black, which allows the light through to enter the back of the eye – this is called the pupil. The size and shape of the pupil will change according to the light conditions – in darkness, the pupil opens wider to allow more light in, and vice versa.
When we look at a horse’s eye, the area we mostly see is the iris. In the vast majority of horses, the iris is a dark chestnut brown color. If you look closely, you may be able to see variations in color throughout the iris, normally observed as subtle stripes.
Do Horses Have Blue Eyes?
In most horses, the iris of the eye is a shade of brown. This can range from a light amber brown through to a deep chestnut brown.
However, you will very occasionally come across a horse that does not have brown eyes. In some horses, the iris is a blue color. This can range from a very pale blue, which is almost white, through to a intense sea-blue color.
And not only can horses have blue eyes, but you may also very rarely come across a horse that has a greenish tinge to their eye color!
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Can Horses Have Blue Eyes And Brown Eyes?
The color of a horse’s eyes are linked to the genetics of its coat color. For a horse to have eyes that are any color other than brown, a certain set of genetic circumstances must occur.
And interestingly, is not always the case that both eyes are the same color! It is possible to get a horse with one blue eye and one brown when the genetic circumstances arise
What Causes Blue Eyes In Horses?
To understand what makes a rare blue eye horse, firstly we need to delve into the world of equine coat color genetics.
All horses inherit a set of color genes from each parent. It is the way that these genes work together that determines the color of the horse and its eyes.
Every horse inherits a pair of basic coat color genes, one from each parent. This means that every horse has a basic coat color which is either black, chestnut, or bay. So how do we get so many different variations from these three basic coat colors?
A horse may or may not inherit various different genes that affect the color of the horse. For example, the horse may inherit one or two coats of color dilution genes, which caused the basic coat color to become much lighter. A good example of this is the cream dilution gene, which acts on chestnut coloring to create a beautiful palomino or cremello coat.
A horse that inherits the cream color dilution gene from both parents will always have lighter-colored eyes. These often have a light blue color, along with a cream-colored coat. If a horse inherits just one cream color dilution gene, the eyes will still be brown, but much lighter than normal.
Blue eyes and in are also associated with genes that cause white patterns or markings. These are particularly common in breeds such as the American Paint horse, with white spotting patterns including sabino, frame overo, and splashed white. In these horses, either one or both eyes may be blue, depending on the distribution of the white areas of coat.
A blue or pale-colored eye in a horse is often called a wall eye and occurs not due to a difference in color, but an absence of color. All horses have this blue color in their eyes, but it is not normally visible because the brown coloring overshadows it. When a coat color dilution gene removes the brown, the blue becomes more prominent.
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How Do You Get A Horse With Green Eyes?
Green-eyed horses are incredibly rare as they only occur in horses with a specific set of genetic conditions. They only occur in horses with the champagne coat color dilution gene. These horses normally have eyes that are a pale aqua-green at birth, but they will darken to a hazel color as the horse matures.
Horses with the champagne coat color dilution gene also have a remarkable metallic sheen to their coat and freckles around the eyes.
Another horse eye color variation can occur, but the genetics behind this are not fully understood. Some horses have eyes that appear amber, orange or yellow in color. In the Pasa Fino breed, these amber-colored eyes also have dark flecks, giving them the name ‘tiger eyes’. This eye color is most frequently seen in horses with Spanish bloodlines and is thought to be due to a genetic mutation.
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Summary – Can Horses Have Blue Eyes?
So, as we have learned, the answer to the question of can horses have blue eyes is yes, they can! The colored part of a horse’s eye is called the iris, and in most horses, this is brown in color. However, you will occasionally come across a horse that has either one or two blue eyes, and even rarer, you may even find a green-eyed horse!
We’d love to hear your thoughts on can horses have blue eyes! We’d love to hear your thoughts on can horses have blue eyes! Have you ever owned a horse with one blue eye and one brown? Or perhaps you’ve got some questions about the best horse breeds that can have blue eyes? Leave a comment below and we will get back to you!
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then wenton to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE