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Horses can have a variety of coat colors and markings. However, while coat colors come in several different shades, white markings make horses truly unique. These appear in specific areas of the face or legs and are used for identification due to their unique shape.
White markings on horses are preset since birth and always have pink skin underneath. Because pink skin is more prone to sunburn, horse owners often protect these areas with sunscreen on hot days.
There’s a wide variety of horse face and leg markings, and it’s easy to confuse the different terms.
In this article, we take a look at the most common white markings in horses and give you the correct term for each one.
7 Common Horse Face Markings
Face markings in horses vary greatly in shape and size. They can occur separately or together, with some combinations more common than others.
The most common horse face markings are a star, stripe, blaze, snip, bald face, apron face, and badger face.
While most horses have white markings on their body, they can also be completely absent from the coat.
A star can be any white marking on the horse’s forehead. Some horses have very faint stars with only a few white hairs on the forehead, while others have more prominent markings.
The star is by far the most common white marking in horses. Despite its name, it doesn’t often look like a star and tends to be more irregular in shape.
This horse face marking frequently appears in combination with a stripe, blaze, or a snip. However, a star must be considerably wider than a stripe or blaze to be regarded as a separate marking.
A stripe is a narrow white marking that runs from the horse’s muzzle to the forehead. It is typically no wider than an inch or two and can be a continuous or interrupted line.
Also known as a strip, this white marking can occur on its own or connected to a star on the horse’s head.
A blaze is a thick white marking that runs along the bridge of the horse’s nose all the way to the forehead. It’s wider than a stripe but not as wide as a bald face and doesn’t cover the eyes.
Many equestrians consider the blaze one of the most attractive white markings in horses. Like the stripe, it can be continuous or interrupted, and even irregular in some horses. It can also vary in thickness and run in a straight or crooked line on the front of the horse’s head.
A snip is a small white marking on the horse’s muzzle typically found between the nostrils. It is highly irregular in shape and can also include other parts of the nose and the lips.
Like a star, a snip can also connect to a stripe or a blaze. Having both a star and a snip is also a frequent combination in horses.
A bald face is a prominent white marking in horses where white covers most of the face. It is essentially a very wide blaze that may or may not extend past the eyes.
Bald face markings are most common in the American Quarter horse and Paint horse breeds. The white may cover one or both eyes, often turning the affected eye blue.
While having a bald face certainly makes a horse stand out, it also increases the risk of sunburn. Owners of horses with bald face markings should consider applying sunscreen on the muzzle and around the eyes when the sun is intense.
An apron face is a white marking that covers the horse’s forehead, running down the bridge of the nose onto the muzzle. It is similar to a bald face but with less white beyond the eyes.
Apron face horses are most common in breeds with pinto coat colors. Also known as a bonnet, the marking gives the impression that the horse is wearing a white apron over its head.
While the marking is undoubtedly attractive, apron face horses are also at a higher risk of sunburn due to their pink noses.
A badger face horse has white on the side of the head but not the front. The marking quite literally looks like a reverse blaze and is the result of a unique sabino pattern.
Fittingly named, badger face horses have an irregular line of white hair running from the lips to the eyes and joining at the top of the forehead. The white may also extend onto the cheeks and chin of the horse, but never the front of the face.
8 Common Horse Leg Markings
Leg markings in horses are defined by how high the white travels up the horse’s leg. They may have different names depending on the breed society; however, they all describe the position of a marking.
The most common horse leg markings are a coronet, heel, half-pastern, pastern, fetlock, sock, half-stocking, and stocking.
Interestingly, horses with white leg markings will also have light-colored hooves on those legs. If white and dark hair are above the coronary band, the hoof underneath will have corresponding light and dark areas.
Below is a list of the most common horse leg markings, from shortest to tallest:
A coronet is a thin band of white hair directly above the horse’s hoof. It’s typically between half an inch to an inch wide and doesn’t extend onto the pastern.
In most horses, the coronet forms a full circle on the bottom of the leg, turning the hoof underneath a shade of cream. However, if there are spots of dark hair interrupting the circle, the hoof will have a dark stripe directly below.
A heel is a horse leg marking where white is found at the back of the foot only. As a result, the rear half of the hoof will be light, and the front half dark in color.
Like the coronet, the heel doesn’t extend beyond half an inch to an inch above the hoof. Some breed societies call this white marking a partial pastern.
A half-pastern is a small white marking on the horse’s leg that travels halfway up the pastern.
In horses, the pastern is the section of the lower leg between the coronary band and the fetlock.
A pastern is a horse leg marking that runs from the hoof to the fetlock joint but stops directly beneath the joint.
Like other leg markings, the pastern can also have ermine (colored) spots that cause striping on the hoof underneath.
A fetlock or ankle is a horse leg marking that includes the fetlock joint but doesn’t extend far above. Some breed societies refer to it as the sock, while others differentiate between the two.
A version of this leg marking is the partial fetlock, where only part of the fetlock joints is covered with white hair.
A sock is a common leg marking in horses that extends past the fetlock joint. In terms of height, it is between a fetlock and a half-stocking.
It’s relatively common for a horse to have four white socks and a star on its forehead. This leg marking is also known as a “boot” in certain areas.
A half-stocking is a leg marking that reaches halfway up the horse’s cannon bone. Another name for this marking is half-cannon.
Horses with half-stockings are rather popular in equestrian circles, as the white markings highlight the graceful movement of their legs.
A stocking is a prominent leg marking in horses that may extend past the knee. Sometimes, it can climb as high as the horse’s flank or belly, which is referred to as “high white”.
High white markings are typical of horses with sabino genetics and will often have roaning around the edges.
Stockings are most common in draft horses and frequently occur in the Clydesdale and Shire horse breeds. The edges of this marking can either be symmetrical or irregular, sometimes meeting the coat in a jagged pattern.