Last Updated on April 24, 2022
When it comes to horse coat colors, there are many subtle variations! But can you get a seal bay horse, and what do they look like? Let’s find out!
Different Types Of Bay Horses Explained
To figure out if it is possible to get a seal bay horse, first of all, we need to understand a little bit about how bay horses get their coat coloring.
Bay is one of the most common coat colors seen in horses. A bay horse will have a body that is based on a chestnut-brown color and will have black points.
These areas of black hair are distributed in a very specific way in a bay horse. The mane and tail will be black, as will the lower legs. In some bay horses, the body hairs may also be so dark in certain areas that they appear black.
So, how does a bay horse get this coloring? To start with, the base genetic coat color of all bay horses is black. This color is then modified by the action of a gene called the Agouti gene.
The Agouti gene is one of the primary color modification genes of horses, and its action affects how widely distributed the black hairs are on a horse. A horse with dominant Agouti genes will have black hairs only in specific areas – normally the mane, tail, and lower legs. The rest of the body can be one of any number of shades of brown.
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Shades Of Bay Horse
There are several common shades of bay horse, but you will see a myriad of variations in between these shades:
- Black Bay Horse – this horse will have a coat color that appears almost completely black, with perhaps just a few lighter brown hairs around the muzzle. They are often only identified as bay when genetic testing is carried out.
- Dark Or Mahogany Bay Horse – these bays will have extensive black points, normally including half of the upper leg area, and the topline – from the forehead to the top of the tail. The lower parts of the body will be a deep brown color, with a rich, reddish hue. This color is often confused with a seal brown horse.
- Blood Bay Horse – this shade of bay has a bright chestnut coat color on the body, that contrasts clearly with the black points on the mane, tail, and lower legs.
- Copper Bay Horse – these bay horses have a coat that is almost ginger in color, across the whole body.
- Standard Bay Horse – this is the color we normally associated with bay – a brown body, and black mane, tail, and legs.
- Light Or Golden Bay Horse – this is relatively uncommon, and most horses with this coloring are more likely to be carrying an additional coat color dilution gene.
- Pangare Bay Horse – this is also known as a mealy or wild bay horse. The bay coat coloring is similar to a standard bay, but the horse also carries the Pangare gene which results in white hairs on the muzzle, eyes, chest, belly, inner forearms, and thighs.
What Is A Seal Horse?
The seal coat coloring in a horse is also as a result of the Agouti coat modifier gene, but here it works in a different way. The gene acts on how black hairs are distributed on the body, and the result is a horse that is mainly black or very dark brown, with lighter areas of red-brown hair. This color is often referred to as black and tan, as it is similar to the coloring seen in dog breeds such as Rottweilers.
However, when it comes to horse coat colors, getting the correct definition is everything. Scientists have discovered that horses with seal coat coloring do not have a black base coat color. They are in fact brown, and the effect seen on the coat is the result of the Agouti gene acting on this brown coat color.
Can You Get A Seal Bay Horse?
So, does this mean you can get a seal bay horse coat color? As the seal coloring is only seen on brown horses, it is not possible to get a seal bay coat color in horses. You may see many similar colors to what you would expect a seal bay horse to look like, such as mahogany bay or chocolate brown coloring.
As you’ve probably realized, the differences between these colors are all very subtle! Sometimes the only way to determine the true coat color of a horse is through genetic testing.
So, as we have learned, a seal bay horse coat color does not exist. The seal coat pattern effect is only seen in brown horses and is manifested in the form of lighter patches of hair on a dark base coat. The gene that causes this effect is found in the same location as that which creates the bay coloring of black horses.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the seal bay horse color! Are you unsure exactly what color your horse is? Or maybe you want to breed a horse with a seal coat color and have some questions about how these genes are passed on? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
What Is A Seal Bay?
If you hear of a horse being described as seal colored, it is not bay. The base coat color for this coloring is brown.
What Color Is A Seal Bay Horse?
Many people mistake seal brown horses for shades of bay such as mahogany bay. Chocolate brown and silver dapple horses are also sometimes mistaken for seal brown horses.
What Is The Difference Between Seal Brown And Bay?
The difference between seal brown and bay is that the seal brown horse has a brown base coat color, and the bay has a black base coat color. In both examples the Agouti gene controls the distribution of black hairs, and the two colors can be very similar. The mane, tail, and lower legs of both colors are always black, and sometimes it can only be possible to tell the difference through genetic testing.
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 went on 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