These two pictures are of the same horse, taken four years apart. When Dancer was born, she was brown with the white blanket and spots on the top of the hips and a white spot or star in her forehead. As a three year old she was still the color as when she was born.
In the spring of her four year old year, Dancer started to have white spots in her black mane (hair along her neck) and tail. I knew from years of raising Appaloosa horses she was going to turn white. Then white spots started appearing all over her body. I had taken her to a horse trainer, as I am not allowed to be the first person to ride an unridden horse any longer.
At the trainers, Dancer continued adding white spots to her color. Her long black mane and tail was turning white, and getting very short. I was having Dancer trained and shown at Reined Cow Horse competitions. Long manes and tails are strongly desired for eye appeal, or beauty of the horse. The trainer was concerned that my horse’s mane and tail was falling out. When the hair supplements, special shampoo and conditioners did not stop the hair loss, the trainer consulted a veterinarian to determine the cause of my horse getting a very thin and short mane and tail, after arriving with a full black mane and tail. The expense of a veterinarian examining a horse while at a training facility is charged to the owner. I was never charged for the veterinarian examine. As there was nothing wrong with my horse.
I do not know if the veterinarian chuckled or laughed when asked to examine my horse for hair loss of the mane and tail. I did when the trainer told me he had called a veterinarian to look at my horse because she was losing her mane and tail, having it replaced with short, thin white hair.
Dancer’s dam (mother) is a registered Quarter horse. Her sire (father) is an Appaloosa. Appaloosa horses change color, usually starting their two year year and up until they are fifteen. Her mane and tail turning white and getting short is an Appaloosa trait, although not all Appaloosas have this trait, very few. Her sire has a beautiful mane and tail as does her mother.
The white color spots appearing, is her black skin turning pink, from lack of pigment in the cells, called mottling. The “white” in her blanket, spots, mane and tail is not white, but lack of pigment and translucent – what gives the Appaloosa their unique coloring patterns.
Her change in color, losing her mane and tail was genetic, nothing anyone can do to change what was happening. Appaloosas are unique in their coloring, as no two are colored the same. If a person finds two very close, they may not be that way the next year.
Each spring we watch Dancer to see what her appearance will me when she sheds off her winter coat. Each year her coloring is a little different.