Flaxen lightens the manes and or tails of chestnut to be lighter than their body color. The difference in shade can vary from white to only slightly lighter than the body color. Other flaxens can have manes and/or tails that are a grey silvery color. Flaxen chestnuts are sometimes mistaken for palominos or silvers. The inheritance of flaxen is not yet known, however a study in Morgan Horses indicates it is inherited and it does appear to run in families. It also appears to be recessive. A famous line of dark chestnut flaxens in Chincoteagues are descendants of Surfer Dude. It was long thought he was a silver, however years of of observation of his descendants has disproven this and to date none have tested positive for silver.
Flaxen bays have cream colored or silvery hairs in their manes and/or tails. Often only the mane or tail, also known as gulastra plume, is affected and not the other. It is less common than flaxen chestnuts. The cause or inheritance is not known at this time, however it does appear frequently in some breeds.
Palominos have flaxen manes and tails and silvers often do, but those are characteristics of those colors and are separate from the flaxen described here.