Plenty of horses still thrive in nature as much as in captivity with owners, and there are a plethora of different types to learn about and experience. The breeds are based on their genetics, personality, and bloodlines.
A popular horse that you may hear of is the Bay horse; but is “Bay” a breed of horse? The answer is no, Bay is not a breed of horse, rather it is a brownish coat color that plenty of different horse breeds come in.
This is a common misconception within society. So in this article, we will discuss the Bay color and how it came about, along with different breeds of horses that share the Bay coat color.
Bay Horse Color Genetics
When it comes to the color of a horse’s fur, it can all be simply explained by genetics. The various shades of Bay are determined by the genetic code and the sequence of certain alleles that are connected throughout the horse’s DNA.
When it comes to the colors of Bay coats, the genetic code typically expresses reddish-brown, brown, chestnut, and even all the way to black.
With more detail, the “red” color that is seen in a lot of different horses is represented by the recessive “e” allele; and the dominant “E” allele is what creates the darkers forms of Bay including brown, dark brown, and black.
The dominance of the allele “E” creates darker colors due to the amount of melanin that the allele creates throughout the horse’s genetic sequence. These two alleles are the most basic and simplest way to comprehend how Bay horses have and keep their shiny brown or black coat.
Bay Family Colors
Buckskin horses are popular amongst the plains of North America and are a considerable type of horse to have as a pet or service animal.
They are part of the Bay horses because of the colors that their coat expresses. Buckskin horses typically have a coat color or tan, a golden hue of tan, as well as light brown, and brown.
Their mane, tail, and lower legs also experience this Bay colorism with extra melanin being concentrated in those areas, making them appear black in color instead of tan or gold.
Buckskin horses are hardy animals that enjoy bucking and kicking, which means they spend a lot of time outside, which helps to keep their Bay color well intact and shiny.
Some Buckskin horses may appear even lighter in color than tan, but this is because the melanin is not as strong in these horses.
Perlino horses are a special breed of horse that expresses their genetic alleles a bit differently than other horses.
Although they have the same genes as other horses belonging in the Bay horse genre that creates the brown fur tone, their allele produces an extra-light tan color that presents itself as an off-white color, better known as “cream”.
This cream color is the staple of the Perlino horses and are characterized by specific phenotypic traits including light brown eyes, pale blue eyes, and rosy pink skin. Some of the bay colors that are associated with Perlino horses are cremello, smokey cream, and perlino which is the darkest cream color of the Bay color scale.
Other bay colors that are common to Perlinos include palomino – a brown color -, smokey black, and buckskin – a tan color -. The colors of Perlinos will continue to vary because they have a wide bay color scheme, but will consistently resemble a cream to brown color scale.
Bay Dun Horses
Bay Duns are not a breed of horse that is also a part of the Bay family because of the color of the coat that is shared across the breed. Duns are also called Classic Dun or Zebra Dun because of their body types.
These are also the most common types of Bay Duns, with Red Dun, also called Claybanks, as a strong secondary form. You will steadily see Bay Duns with a light tan, tan, or gold body with a black mane, black legs, and black hooves as well, with primitive markings across the legs and underbelly of the horse.
The Red Bay Duns have a light tan coat, but also present with a reddish hue on the legs and mane of the horse instead of black. They are prominent horses, and are found in most major countries; outside of the Red Bay Duns , which tends to be a bit rarer than their counterparts.
Amber Champagne Horses
Champagne horses with a Bay base color are considered to be Amber Champagne Bay horses. They usually present with a golden tan or light brown body with dark brown manes, tailes, and points on their legs and hooves.
This differs from regular Champagne horses because regular Champagne horse’s points and legs are the same color as their entire body. Because of these lighter colors, Amber Champagne horses can be mistaken for Buckskin or Dun.
This is due to the phenotypic expression of the genetic code, and although they are similar on the outside, they are still different breeds of horses.
One trait that is specific to Amber Champagne horses is that they have brown points with no primitive dun markings such as dorsal stripes and leg bearings. These horses also have pink skin and freckles with blue or whitish eyes at birth, and turn amber or hazel.
Silver Bay Horses
You may hear the name Silver Bay and think that this horse is most likely the color of silver; but this isn’t the case, or else they wouldn’t be considered Bay horses.
Silver Bay horses fit into the Bay family color scale because they present as sturdy and muscular horses that can have the Bay colors of tan, gold, light brown, brown, reddish-brown, and even smokey black. What gives them the name Silver Bay their points.
These horses will have points and a mane and tail that can vary in color from bleached, dirty blond, or completely white. The white or silver display on their mane is due to their genetic code and the alleles that are within this particular breed of horse’s DNA.
Contrary to popular belief, Silver Bay is available in major countries and they do well with caretakers when being trained to ride, and with young children.
Bay Roan Horses
Bay Roan horses are the horses that you’ll usually see in classic western movies. They tend to look like horses that have recently rolled around in dirt. But this isn’t the case, this is simply because of their genetic expression.
Based on their genetic influences, the color shades of a Bay Roan will vary widely. These horses can appear in the colors of a reddish hue or sheen, and because of the genetic expression, these horses look similar to a red Roan.
The bay colors that present itself within the Bay Roan breed are light brown, brown, smokey black, and off-white. Other pattern coats that you may find on a Bay Roan include blue roan, strawberry roan, chestnut roan, and solid roan pattern. These are the most common Roan colors amongst the breed.
The alleles for these horses are similar to other breeds, but tend to have more emphasis on their mane and legs.
Bay Pinto Horses
Bay Pintos have either a solid color or a pattern that will vary across its entire body. Their patterns resemble that of their fellow plain animal, the cow, and have a consistent form across the pattern: broad whtie patches along with any other color on the horse’s body; this is considered pinto.
Solid colors that accompany the pattern of a Bay Pinto are brown, tan, and black. Other patterns that their genes express in their physical traits include piebald, skewbald, tobiano, tricolored, overo, dominant white, and tovero.
Pinto patterns are famous across many breeds of horses in the United States, and some breed registries recommend the breeding of horses with pinto coats.
Because of their striking spotted appearance, the Pinto Horse Association of America was incorporated in 1956 and encouraged the scaling of pinto horses and ponies. Even though breeding different types of horses, Bay Pintos are dominant because of this special allele.
Bay Leopard Horses
Bay Leopard horses are a unique type of horse simply because of their randomized spots and streak across their torso and backside, hence the name “Bay Leopards”. The Bay still stands strong as the base color for most of these spectacular horses tend to be light brown, chestnut brown, smokey gray, or black.
These spots and steaks are actually a group of genetically related coat patterns. The pattern has the ability to be localized to the torso, or to just the backside, all the way to the neck and legs of the horse. Some secondary characteristics of the Bay Leopard horse are a white sclera around their eye, striped hooves and molted skin.
They are closely related with the Appaloosa and Knabstrupper breeds, which also have a long-term ancient mutation that causes these dalmatian-like spots. Additionally, the allele that causes such a pattern is called the Lp gene, and it expresses itself in blotches of skin on the body.
Shades of Bay Coat Colors
The Sandy Bay color has a high resemblance to a buckskin; the color has black points and a light-colored coat such as tan or light-brown, to dark brown. This color was created by the addition of once creme gene, which results in a much lighter color
The modified gene for a Dark Bay is the agouti gene (A) which creates a much darker hue of brown such as dark brown to a brownish-black hue. The mane and hooves tend to be black as well, as they blend into each, flowing from a brown sheen to a pure black.
Standard Bay is the most common bay shade for most horses. This is the color that most people will see when they envision a horse. The Standard Bay comes in various shades on the brown scale including light brown, copper, chestnut, and red with black legs and black hooves.
Blood bay is the best known variety of the Bay collection. Their base color is black with the allele “E” and has variants of bright reddish-brown hues, represented by the allele “A” all the way to A dark shade of brown, also represented by the dominant allele “E”.
Copper Bay horses have a light-brown to dark-brown hue throughout their coat like that of a penny, with manes, legs, and hooves being the most melanin dominant, black. Copper Bays may also have a golden or reddish hue under the brown tone of their fur and mane.
Wild Bays have a range of colors within its color spectrum. Wild bays have a reddish coat of fur along their entire body with black points at their mane, tail, lower legs, and ear tips. The best way to distinguish a Wild Bay from others is that the black on their legs doesn’t go past their knees.
Bay Horse Breeds
You can find Bay features in most horses, but most horses do not belong in the biological breed of Bay horses. So the best way to learn which is which is to provide you with a list of horses that belong in the Bay horse column.
Some of these horses included the Irish Sport Horse, the Holsteiner, the Cleveland Bay, the Yorkshire Coach Horse, and the Clydesdale Horse.
Breeds That Don’t Have Bay Horses
As mentioned earlier, not all horses are of the Bay nature, and there are some horse breeds that are known to not have any source of Bay in their genetic code.
The genetic guide to the color of Equine is what determines whether or not the horse is considered a Bay.
Breeds that don’t have Bay horses include the Suffolk Punch, Friesian horses, and Hafflingers, and this is because they tend to be purebred horses that have no mixing or genetic anomalies within their genetic coding.