Bend Or Spots

Bend Or Spots, also known as grease spots or smuts, are random dark spots on color. They can appear on any color, but do not appear on white. They can be present at birth or develop as a horse ages. The inheritance of Bend Or spots is unknown, however in some cases it does seem to run in families. The name Bend Or comes from a Thoroughbred of that name.

Solid bay with a Bend Or Spot. The Bend Or spot is a small one on her shoulder. Misty's Raindrop, 2011, Picture by Amanda Geci.

Birdcatcher Spots

Birdcatcher Spots are small round randomly placed white spots on color. They can appear or disappear over time. There does not appear to be a genetic reason behind Birdcatcher spots. They are not associated with appaloosa. Birdcatcher spots are named after a Thoroughbred of that name.

Chestnut with birdcatcher spots. Feral mare, 1996, Picture by Amanda Geci.

Palomino with birdcatcher spots. There is a small scattering of tiny white spots on both sides. They didn't appear until she was in her 20's and later disappeared. Misty's Heat Wave, 2014, Picture by Amanda Geci.

Curly Coat

Horses that are considered to be a curly have curly hair on their bodies year round. The curly coat is usually more pronounced in winter. Curlies often have a kinky mane and tail. Some consider curlies to be hypoallergenic as many with horse allergies do not have an allergic reaction with curly horses. Current research theorizes that there are separate dominant and recessive inheritance of curly coats. The dominant type of curly is what generally makes up the Bashkir Curly Horse and American Curly Horse breeds. The recessive type of curly is what has been found in the Chincoteague Pony and also appears in a great variety of breeds. A recessive curly will inherit it from both parents. The parents of a curly can have normal straight hair as a carrier will not be affected. The curly coat can skip generations. There is not a genetic test for curly at this time.

Black tobiano curly as a foal. Her dam produced other curly foals. Dreamdancer, 2008, Picture by Amanda Geci.

Ermine Spots

Dark spots on a pony's white legs are called ermine spots. Ermine spots can occur on any leg that is white and are a form of occluding spots. They are often found close to the hoof, but can be found higher on the leg. Ermine spots can range from one or two spots to many. Ermine spots are often a sign of homozygous tobianos. Large numbers of ermine spots tends to run in some families.

Black tobiano with ermine spots. Misty's Morning Glory, 2006, Picture by Amanda Geci.

Bay tobiano with a couple of ermine spots. Sockett to Me, 2010, Picture by Amanda Geci.

Black tobiano with extensive ermine spots. Baybe, 2014, Picture by Amanda Geci.

Brown tobiano with ermine spots. The Duchess of Lightning, Picture courtesy of Sarah Fung.


Lacing, also known as giraffe markings, marbling, or catbacked, is a white lace looking pattern that develops on the top of the back. It generally starts along the spine and stretches outwards. There is no known genetic reason behind lacing, however it has been known to run in some families. Skin diseases can also cause lacing, but not exclusively.

Black tobiano with lacing. The lacing appeared after the mare was in her teens and is the first known appearance of it in her family. Misty's Storm Chaser, Picture by Amanda Geci.

Occluding Spots

Occluding spots are areas of color that have been added back to white markings or suppress areas of white markings. Ink Spots/Cat Tracks and Ermine Spots are types of occluding spots.

Dark chestnut sabino with occluding spots in her blaze. Misty's Rainbow, Picture courtesy of Matt DesJardins.

Chestnut with an occluding spot at the top of her blaze. Misty's Red Dawn, Picture by Amanda Geci.

Chestnut tobiano with occluding spot over white sock. Tronada, 2015, Picture by Amanda Geci.

Chestnut tobiano with an occluding spot dark snip. Chance, 2010, Photo by Amanda Geci.


Somatic mutations create markings that are not related to anything genetic and cannot be passed on to offspring. Somatic mutations are due to conditions in the womb and cannot be deliberately created.

Dark flaxen chestnut with a somatic spot on his hip. Surfer Dude, 2010, Picture by Amanda Geci.

Chestnut with a somatic spot on her hip. Surfin Scarlett, 2014, Picture by Amanda Geci.

Solid bay with somatic grey/roaning spot. Galadriel, 2014, Picture by Amanda Geci.

Skin Disease Marks

White marks can also appear to skin diseases due to fungus or allergies. They are not genetic and not inheritable.

Chestnut tobiano splash that developed permanent white spots due to a skin condition of some type. Thetis, 2005 and 2015, Picture by Amanda Geci.