What Does A Sorrel Horse Look Like? (TOP 5 Tips)

Sorrel horses are chestnuts that are a lighter red. Their coat is copper-red colored, and their manes and tails are typically the same color as their coat or slightly lighter. It’s common in other countries to use the term chestnut when describing a sorrel horse.

  • Sorrel horses have a copper-red body, with similar or lighter mane and tail, varying from reddish-gold to chocolate or deep burgundy. Although many horse enthusiasts believe that sorrel and chestnut are two different colors, there is no difference between the two.

What makes a horse a sorrel?

Sorrel is a reddish coat color in a horse lacking any black. It is a term that is usually synonymous with chestnut and one of the most common coat colors in horses. Solid reddish-brown color is a base color of horses, caused by the recessive e gene.

What breed of horse is a sorrel?

Sorrel color is found in most horse breeds. Sorrel is prevalent in Thoroughbreds, Quarter horses, Tennesse Walking Horses, and Belgians, to only name a few. Sorrel is the most common color of horses registered in the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA).

What is the difference between a sorrel and a roan?

For example, a red roan is a horse with white hair mixed in with crimson. A sorrel horse has an entirely red base color with the possibility of white markings, whereas a chestnut horse has a considerably darker, brownish-red base color.

Can a sorrel horse have a black mane?

Most horses considered sorrel, have the same color throughout their body, mane, and tail, with no or very little other white markings. Some sorrels can have a flaxen or blonde mane and tail, but if there are black or dark markings on their bodies, then that horse would be considered chestnut.

What is the rarest color of a horse?

Among racehorses, there are many successful colors: bay, chestnut, and brown horses win a lot of races. Pure white is the rarest horse color.

Can a sorrel horse have a black mane and tail?

WHAT DOES A SORREL LOOK LIKE? The most common appearance of SORREL is a red body with a red mane and tail with no black points. But the SORREL can have variations of both body color and mane and tail color, both areas having a base of red.

Is my horse chestnut or sorrel?

What distinguishes sorrels from chestnut horses? Sorrel horses are a specific shade under the umbrella of chestnut color classifications. Sorrel horses are chestnuts that are a lighter red. Their coat is copper-red colored, and their manes and tails are typically the same color as their coat or slightly lighter.

Where does sorrel grow?

Sorrel plants are reliably perennial in USDA hardiness zones 5 and higher, but they are commonly grown as annuals in zones 3 through 7, starting with new plants each spring. Older plants can become tough and less flavorful. Established plants can handle a light frost.

Where is sorrel from?

Sorrel grows in grassland habitats all over Europe and in parts of Central Asia, though its history goes back as far as 1700 with mentions of the sour herb in Jamaican literature. The plant grows in three varieties: French, red-veined, and broad leaf, all of which have relatively different appearances.

What kind of horse has a blonde mane and tail?

What do you call a chestnut horse with a flaxen mane and tail? If it’s a brown horse with a blond or dirty-blond looking mane, then it is referred to as a flaxen chestnut. Sometimes, especially in stock horse breeds, this color may be referred to as sorrel.

What is a black horse with white mane and tail called?

There is a breed called the Rocky Mountain Horse that has several accepted color combinations. The most sought after though is a chocolate (looks black) coat with a light flaxen mane and tail (looks silver-white).

What is a sorrel in English?

(sɒrəl, US sɔːr- ) uncountable noun. Sorrel is a plant whose leaves have a bitter taste and are sometimes used in salads and sauces. COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary.

What is a lethal white foal?

Overo lethal white foal syndrome, is an inherited condition in Paint horses in which affected animals have severe intestinal tract abnormalities which cause a non-functioning colon.

Can a sorrel foal turn palomino?

Palomino (and Cremello/Perlino): (aa, ee, C^cr C, dd, rr, gg ) have one cremello gene turning a Sorrel/ Chestnut to palomino and having little or no effect on a black horse in the absence of other gene actions. Palomino x Palomino cross will produce palomino, Sorrel/Chestnut and cremello foals.

Can you breed a roan to a roan?

There was a refereed journal article published in 1979 (Hintz and Van Vleck) that suggested that breeding roans to roans to get roan offspring could have lethal consequences. Homozygous roans have two alleles for the roan color, while heterozygous roans only have one allele.

Are Chestnut and Sorrel Horses the Same Color? What’s different?

Any links on this page that direct you to things on Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I will receive a compensation. Thank you in advance for your assistance — I much appreciate it! Horse hues might be difficult to distinguish. I know horse aficionados who believe that all red horses are sorrel colored, and others who feel that every red horse is a chestnut hue (or vice versa). Is it possible that they are both correct? Is there a difference in color between chestnut and sorrel horses?

It’s an unique shade of chestnut, a light red, and it seems orange or brilliant copper in the light of day.

For the sake of simplicity, let us assume that all sorrels are chestnuts, but that all chestnuts are not sorrels.

However, by the time you have finished reading this essay, you will be an expert on sorrel and chestnut-colored horses.

What distinguishes sorrels from chestnut horses?

Sorrel horses are a distinct shade of chestnut horse that falls under the general category of chestnut color classifications. Sorrel horses are chestnuts that have a lighter shade of red than their counterparts. Copper-red is the color of their coat; manes and tails are normally the same color as their coat or a shade or two lighter than it. Some early investigations suggested that there was a genetic difference between sorrels and chestnuts; however, contemporary research and a better grasp of genetics have disproved these findings.

  • The phrases, on the other hand, refer to distinct colors of red.
  • In addition, for a chestnut quarter horse to be registered, its coat must have a brown tinge to it, with the most severe being a dark brown “liver” hue.
  • Sorrels are recognized by other breeds besides quarter horses, although outside of the United States, they are commonly referred to as chestnuts.
  • In other countries, the name “chestnut” is commonly used to describe a sorrel horse, which is a misnomer in the United States.

Famous sorrel horses

Dash for Cash is the most well-known sorrel quarter horse in the world. He competed in 25 races, won 21 of them, and earning more than $500,000 in prize money. However, his racing career is only a small portion of the whole narrative. The next year, after his running career finished, he was sent out for breeding. He produced some of the finest runners and broodmares of all time. He sired 145 stakes winners and earners with a combined total earnings of over $40,000,000. Dolloris is the sorrel that John Wayne rode in the film True Grit while portraying the character Rooster Cogburn, and he is named after him.

In The Shootist, John Wayne cherished the horse and addressed him by his given name.

The sorrel gelding was Adam’s mount for six seasons.

Secretariat appears to have been a sorrel based on the photographs I’ve seen of him.

It would make no difference to the Jockey Club if Secretariat were a sorrel, as the club does not recognize the color and he would be registered as a chestnut regardless of his color.

What is a chestnut horse?

Most breeds of horses have chestnut coats, which makes them one of the most prevalent equine coat colors to be found. Now that we’ve established the fundamental concept, let’s go a bit further.

Chestnut horses have no black hair in their coats.

Chestnut horses have red with no black hair, unlike other breeds. It is caused by a recessive gene that reduces the production of black pigment, producing in a coat with a red base. Nevertheless, the skin of chestnut horses is normally black, although some chestnut foals are born with pale skin that darkens with time. When you breed two chestnut horses, you will always have another chestnut foal. This is because chestnut horses are genuine breeders. It is possible that one of the parents was not a chestnut if the colt’s hue is anything other than chestnut.

Abay horses have a chestnut base that is modified by genes that allow for the development of pigmentation zones that are mostly black or red in color.

There may be a difference in color between their points (manes, tails, ears, and lower legs) and the rest of their bodies.

As a result, independent of the other genes that influence the color of the horse, E e E er produces chestnut horses.

Basic chestnut colors

In addition to sorrel and chestnut, there are several more words that are used to designate horses with chestnut coloring. Here is a list of horse coat colors that are inherited from geneticchestnuts:

  • The liver chestnut is a kind of tree that grows on the liver. Chestnuts from the liver are the darkest of the chestnuts. They range in color from dark crimson to practically black. When referring to a chestnut horse with manes and tails that are straw-colored or lighter in hue than the body color, the term “flaxen chestnut” is used.

There are many shades of chestnut.

The coat colors listed below are derived from chestnut and have been genetically tweaked to give them a distinct genetic identity.

  • Palominos are produced by a single copy of a dominant cream gene being expressed on a chestnut rootstock basis. This breed’s coat is golden in color with no red undertones, and its eyes are normally amber in color. Carmello’s are produced by the interaction of two cream genes with a chestnut base. Their coats are cream-colored, and they have pink skin and blue eyes
  • Nevertheless, they do not have blue eyes. Red duns are produced by the influence of the adun gene on a chestnut base coat. They have a tannish body with a primitive red marking on it, which is characteristic. Chestnut champagnes are transformed into gold champagnes when the champagne gene is introduced into the population. They have amber or green eyes, light skin that is freckled, and a medium build. The hue of their coat is similar to that of a palomino
  • Redroans are horses with a chestnut foundation coat that have been impacted by the traditional roan gene
  • They are also known as red roans.

The evolution of horse colors

The early horses had coats that were yellowish to light brown in color, with a dark mane and tail, as well as dark limbs that bore dun markings. Predators couldn’t see you because of the color pattern on your skin. Appaloosa and black coats formed in early herds as the horse progressed through evolution. As a result of climatic change and geological occurrences, changes in the appearance of distinct hue characteristics began to manifest themselves. Following the domestication of horses and the selective breeding of horses, an explosion of new equine hues appeared.

The development of scientific instruments and a knowledge of genetics have resulted in the identification of two pigments, as well as the effect of multiple genes, that are responsible for the wide range of hues found in the horse’s coat.

Color pigments in the form of black and red are used to create the three base hues bay, black, and chestnut, respectively. It is the effect of genes, such as dilutions genes, that defines the hues and patterns that are created from these main colors.

Sorrel (horse) – Wikipedia

Chestnut, Sorrel
A chestnut horse
Other names Red, sorrel
Variants Flaxen,Liver chestnut
Base color Recessiveextension”e”
Modifying genes None
Description Reddish-brown color uniform over entire body other thanmarkings
Body Reddish-brown
Head and Legs Same as body, occasionally lighter
Mane and tail Flaxen to brown
Skin Usually black, may be lighter at birth in some breeds
Eyes Brown, eyes may be lighter at birth

“sorrel” is the name given to a Quarter Horse. Sorreli is a horse with a reddish coat that is devoid of any black. Chestnut is a phrase that is frequently used in conjunction with chestnut and one of the most popular coat colors in horses. Some countries and breed registries distinguish it from chestnut, describing sorrel as having a bright, coppery colour and chestnut as having a darker, browner tone. However, in terms of genetics, there is no discernible difference between sorrel and chestnut in terms of horse coat color.

  • The word “sorrel” is said to have originated from the color of the flower spikes on the sorrel herb’s stems.
  • In the western United States, the word “sorrel” is more commonly used to describe this plant.
  • A sorrel is a form of copper-red chestnut, according to the American Quarter Horse Association, which accepts both terminology.
  • Many organizations just ignore the problem by using one of the two words to indicate all reddish or brown colorations that are not bay in order to avoid the controversy.

Sorrel or chestnut coloration can be distinguished from dun coloration, which results from different genetics, by the dun Despite the fact that the base shade of a sorrel is quite similar to that of a blood bay, sorrel can always be differentiated from bay by the black “points” that the bay has — a black mane, tail, and lower legs — on its body.

True palomino colouring, on the other hand, is the result of a horse being heterozygous for the cream dilution gene, which is found in just a few horses.

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Sorrel is also known as a self color in some circles.


  • In addition to “Horse Coat Color Tests” from the UC DavisVeterinary Genetics Lab, “Introduction to Coat Color Genetics” from the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, is also available. *Accessed on January 12, 2008, from the AQHA General Glossary website.

Chestnut Vs. Sorrel Horse: What Is The Difference?

*This post may include affiliate links, which means that I may get a compensation if you make a purchase after clicking on one of the links I give (at no extra cost to you). Because I am an Amazon Associate, I receive money when people make eligible purchases. Please see mydisclaimer for more information on this subject. The chestnut and the sorrel horses are both stunningly gorgeous and eye-grabbing, with their shiny, reddish-brown coats catching the light. When you look at their coloration, you’d almost believe they were all the same hue.

Even though bothchestnut and sorrel refer to the same overall tone of reddish-brown (or brownish-red), the colors are slightly different from one another and each has a few distinct qualities that do not overlap with one another.

The General Difference Between Chestnut and Sorrel

A great deal of what it boils down to is the amount of light or blackness of shadow. (source) Sorrel horses have a fully red base coat color (apart from the potential of white markings), but chestnut horses can have any shade of red coat color, including nearly brown or ‘liver’ chestnut, depending on the individual horse breed. Many people consider a sorrel to be a “true” red in color. Colors in the red family can be any hue, from light to dark. The majority of them have the same color all over their bodies, manes, and tails, with no additional marks (apart from white on the face or legs).

  1. Chestnut is sometimes characterized simply as “red,” but it may also take on a deeper shine or even appear wine-colored depending on the variety.
  2. In contrast to sorrel horses, chestnut horses have manes and tails that are flaxen (as opposed to the color of their bodies), or they might be the same color as their bodies.
  3. But it’s worth pointing out that this specific coloration is a trick of the light; chestnut horses do not have the genetic makeup to develop black manes or tails, as is the case with black horses in general.
  4. And, to top it all off, it’s not always easy to tell if a horse is a chestnut or a sorrel when they’re a foal.

Genetic and Phenotypic Details of Sorrel and Chestnut Horses

Genetically speaking, a chestnut horse and a sorrel horse are nearly identical in appearance, but they are not the same breed. Given that the gene responsible for red coat coloration is a recessive gene, any horse born with a red coat would need to be in possession of two red genes. Fortunately, this is not the case. The existence of any other gene color would overcome it, and the red would be cancelled out because it is a recessive gene color. As a result, two red parents will always produce a red foal, as the only color genes they have are those that create red coloration.

Genetics of Sorrel and Chestnut Horses

On your equine DNA result, you would see one of the following if you had ordered a coat color test on a chestnut or sorrel horse: It should be noted that a red horse will always test the letter ‘ee’. If the horse does not test positive for the letter ‘ee,’ it is not any color of red. The agouti gene, on the other hand, is responsible for the genetic variances. On a sorrel or chestnut horse, it is impossible to tell if the horse has agouti or not by looking at him.

Due to the fact that the gene does not manifest itself on a red-based horse, a DNA test is the only way to determine with precision whether or not a sorrel or chestnut horse possesses the Agouti virus.

eeAA This horse is homozygous for Agouti. Offspring can not be black or grulla no matter what color the other parent is.
eeAa Heterozygous Agouti. Offspring can be any color.
eeaa No Agouti. Offspring can be any color. The color of the other parent will largely determine the color of the foal.

It is as simple as removing a few hairs from your horse’s coat and sending them in for examination to determine the color of his coat. You may learn more about equine DNA testing by reading my post, which has some excellent resources.

Classifying the Phenotypic expression of Sorrel/Chestnut in Horses

A great deal of the variation is due to regional differences and the usage of horses. Sorrel horses were known called as such for a very long time because they had a reddish body with a mane and tail of the same lighter hue as the body, rather of the more common “chestnut.” Furthermore, in Europe, the name “chestnut” is more generally used to refer to any reddish-coated horse, including thoroughbreds and Arabians, but in the Americas, the term “sorrel” is more commonly used to refer to quarter horses and other similar animals.

  1. Another variation in name that does not have anything to do with color is the riding style.
  2. Essentially, the red coat, in all of its variations, is the consequence of genetics, which allows for the expression of two recessive genes that influence coat color.
  3. This further breaks down a categorization system based on the phenotypic, or visual, appearance of the horse colors.
  4. What is a sorrel horse, and how does it differ from a regular horse?
  5. Sorrel horses can have manes and tails that range in color from a matching red to a very brilliant white, depending on the breed.
  6. What is a chestnut horse, and where can I find one?

Shades of Red Horses

Additionally, among chestnuts and sorrels, there are other variations that characterize various coats based on shade. Hepatosa, or liver chestnut, is the darkest of the chestnuts — in fact, it is the darkest of all of the red colors! It seems to have a reddish dark color. It may even be so dark that this shade of red might appear almost completely black or even with purple undertones at times. This is sometimes referred to as “dark chestnut” in some circles. Chestnut: The traditional chestnut hue, this coat has a rich red color that is coppery and vibrant, but it also has overtones of brown in it.

A “cherry sorrel” is a term used to describe horses who have a light shade quality because of their lightness.

Sorrel, which is genetically related to the chestnut, is often associated with milder hues of red, progressing up to that clear, bright red color.

The light sorrel is also referred to as “orange sorrel.” Chestnut sorrel: Although this is a perplexing phrase, it refers to a sorrel horse with legs that are lighter in color than the rest of the horse.

It is particularly frequent among American Belgians. This coat color is the product of the pangaregene, a gene that causes a light or flaxen coat, operating on a flaxen-maned chestnut to produce a one-of-a-kind genetic outcome.

Breed Registration

Because there are so many distinct breeds, classifying chestnuts or sorrels for breed registries may be a bit tricky, as there are so many different standards and definitions. For example, the Thoroughbred, Arabian, and Morgan horses all have a single color designation for all hues of red and only register their copper-colored equines as “chestnuts.” Canva For draft horse breeds, registries take the term “chestnut” a step further by offering other shades of the hue in addition to the original.

With other draft breeds, however, the distinction between registering as a chestnut or a sorrel boils down to the quantity of readily visible or detectable shades of red on a coat as opposed to the number of lighter colors on the coat.

The body color of chestnuts and sorrels is often the sole factor taken into consideration when referring to coat color, with the color of the mane and tail not being taken into consideration.

The American Quarter Horse Association, for its part, utilizes both terminology, but identifies a sorrel as a sort of copper-red chestnut, despite the fact that it believes chestnut is the right term for coat color categorization as well.

Fun Facts About Sorrel Horses

There are stories to be told about every coat color breed, and the lovely redheads of the horse world have their own set of anecdotes to share with you. Breeds with a red coat are at polar different ends of the spectrum when it comes to how well they reflect their color. Among other things, the Suffolk Punch is a dog breed that is solely red-coated (as is the Haflinger), but there are other breeds (particularly the Friesian) that have worked hard to erase the red color completely. Chestnut horses are also responsible for an equally striking coat color possibility in their offspring: the palomino, which occurs when a chestnut horse also carries a copy of the cream dilution gene.

When it comes to the sorrel plant, the name “sorrel” has its origins in a phrase used to describe the color of the flower spikes.

Famous Chesnut Horses

A number of prominent chestnuts have appeared throughout horse history, owing to the fact that chestnut is a popular color in many racing and displaying breeds. In addition to being widely regarded the greatest racehorse of all time, Man O’ War is also one of the most renowned chestnuts (and Thoroughbreds) to have ever run on the racetrack. He broke countless records in the world of racing and went on to become the grandsire of another great racehorse, Seabiscuit, who was also a record-breaker.

(source)Canva By winning the Belmont Stakes by a stunning 31 lengths, he shattered the mold and established a new norm.

(source)Ready Teddy: Although not as well-known as racehorses, Ready Teddy was a famous showjumper who represented New Zealand in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He was just eight years old at the time of his victory. (source)

Famous Sorrel Horses

Due to the fact that sorrels are more commonly seen in western riding, their heroes will be found throughout the history of western sports as well as the history of the Americas. Little Sorrel: Also known as “Fancy,” Little Sorrel was a legendary mount of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson who rode him throughout the American Civil War. When it was discovered that General Jackson’s initial war horse, Big Sorrel, was unfit for fight, Little Sorrel was picked to be his replacement. Champion was the sorrel horse of the main character on the television western series, Range Rider.

(source) Dollar: Another Western movie hero, Dollar was one of John Wayne’s mounts during his film career.

(source) In terms of color, chestnut horses and sorrel horses are virtually two opposite ends of a beautiful red coat rainbow.

What is a Sorrel Horse?

A horse with the color of orrel is one of many various hues of horses. Horses and ponies come in a variety of forms, sizes, and colors, which can make it difficult to distinguish between them. Dr. Jess lays down what the genuine sorrel horses are down below:

All About Horses:

Horses and ponies, together referred to as ‘equines,’ are among the most popular of the hooved pets. Herd animals, horses like to be with other horsey-like companions rather than alone themselves, and they are herd animals in general. Horses and ponies exist in a variety of forms, sizes, and colors, resulting in a large number of diverse breeds that are popular for a variety of reasons. Equestrians are four-legged creatures that walk on hooves. They have a mane of hair flowing down the top of their neck and a long tail at the end of their back.

They have broad, flat-surfaced teeth that are ideal for ripping and crushing plant materials.

Hunting and jumping, dressage, reining, roping, cutting, endurance, vaulting, and eventing, to mention a few of the equestrian sports, are just a few of the disciplines.

Different Horse Colors:

Horses are available in an array of stunning hues and tones. Breeds like as Haflingers, for example, are more typically seen in certain hues, tints, or patterns, whilst other breeds, such as the American Quarter Horse, are found in a wide range of color variations.

Greys, browns, and bays, black and white, sorrel and chestnut, and a variety of other hues are among the most popular horse coat colors. Uns, roans, and diluted hues such as palominos and cremelos were among the other colors used.

Horse Markings:

Additionally, many horses have a broad variety of markings, which combine to generate distinct variances in their physical appearance on top of the great diversity of horse coat colors. Horse coat markings will aid in the identification of individual horses and may even be required to be included on some veterinarian forms and breed association registration forms. Stars, snips, blazes, and bald faces are some of the most common horse markings on the face. There are several other types of leg markings that may be visible, ranging from as high as the knee, which is called a “high sock,” all the way down to just barely creeping up past the hoof, which is called a “coronet”band.

What Determines a Horse’s Color?

Everything about a horse’s color is derived from one of three base colors: black, bay, or chestnut/sorrel. All other colors are derived from some modified mix of these three foundation colors. So, what factors influence the color of a horse’s coat? It’s all in the genes, as they say. There are three genes that have been identified as contributing to the base color of a horse’s coat. Understanding these three genes will assist us in better understanding the genetics of horse color. This group of three color coat genes is referred to by the letters A, B, and E gene designations.

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So, let’s break this down even further so that we can make sense of all of this coat color jargon.

Defining Horse Coat Color:

Making a determination on the color of a horse’s coat may be a tough undertaking, and there may be many varying perspectives about what color a horse is. The first thing that must be done is to thoroughly investigate the color of the horse’s skin. In the second step, examine horse coat hairs extremely closely – not just from one region on the horse’s body, but horse hairs coming from the horse’s whole body, including the face and legs, among other places. Is it true that the horse hairs contain black pigmen t?

Take a careful look at the horse’s physique and pay attention to several different parts of it!

Red Horse Coloring Genetics:

‘The red factor’ is a recessive gene that is responsible for the red color of sorrels and chestnuts. It is also known as the’red factor’. As the name implies, a recessive gene is one whose effects are not noticed since there is a more dominant gene present that will be responsible for the observed feature. This indicates that in order for a horse to be red, it must have two red genes. This also indicates that every time a pair of red horsey parents breed, they will produce a red offspring. By contrast, the presence of another color gene would obscure the red (thecessive color), allowing the more dominant color to shine through instead.

The E gene carries the instructions for putting black pigment into the horse’s hair.

Consequently, a horse with the ee alleles will not have any black colored hair on his or her coat. In reality, an ee horse will have a coat that is a shade of crimson in tone.

Sorrel Horse Color:

Sorrel horses have a reddish coat color and do not have any black pigmentation in their coats. It is commonly used to describe a pale, coppery tint, or red. A browner shade of red, sorrel horses are often considered as a different hue from chestnut horses, which are a lighter shade of red.

Sorrel versus Chesnut Color:

Determining the right word for a horse’s color only on the basis of looks may lead to heated debates among horse aficionados, and it can be a tough task to master. This is especially true when comparing sorrels to chestnuts! Those horses with reddish or reddish-brown coats are known as “reddish-brown horses.” What’s the difference between chestnuts, sorrels, red or bay or chestnut roans, and so on? For the reasons described above, there is no difference between sorrels and chestnuts in terms of their coat colorgenetics.

  • There may be some variation of opinion among riders and equestrian aficionados as to whether or not there is any distinction between a sorrel and a chestnut.
  • Both designations are used by the American Quarter Horse Association.
  • Usually, this is a matter of personal preference.
  • It can also be altered by grooming practices such as body trimming.
  • Another school of thought holds that if a red horse’s mane and tail are flaxen or lighter in color, it is a sorrel, and if the mane and tail are deeper or darker in color, it is a chestnut.
  • According to many horse enthusiasts, a sorrel horse is a horse that is a real red in color.
  • There is no limit to the shade of sorrel red, which can range from light to dark red.
  • Despite the fact that some sorrels might have a flaxen or blonde mane and tail, if the horse has black or dark markings on its body, it is classified as a chestnut.
  • The Jockey Club classifies chestnut thoroughbreds as those that are red or lighter brown in color, with sorrel not being included as a possibility in their registration.
  • The American Quarter Horse Association makes use of both terminology and defines their differentiation between the two in accordance with their established criteria.

The problem is avoided entirely by many other horse organizations, which instead use the terms “sorrel” or “chestnut” to indicate all reddish or brown hues that do not fit within the category of “bay.”


Surely, blondes are distinguished from brunettes and redheads are distinguished from brunettes? In fact, redheads are not all created equal! Equine coat colors are quite diverse, and while they may appear same at first glance, they can be highly different upon closer scrutiny of the animal’s coat. In horse terms, a sorrel horse is one that has a fully red base color with the possibility of white markings on top of it. However, while a sorrel horse and a chestnut horse are both genetically the same combination of the E gene, many horsemen consider a sorrel horse to be a red horse with a red base and a chestnut horse to be a much darker, brownish-red color.

References Used in This Article:

  1. This is an excerpt from “Introduction to Coat Color Genetics” from the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of California at Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine. The UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory has a website that may be visited on January 12, 2008.

Sorrel Horse Facts with Pictures

The term’sorrel,’ which derives from the color of the flower spikes of sorrel plants, is also used to describe to chestnuts in some cases (a common coat color in horses). Sorrel horses have a copper-red body with a mane and tail that are similar in color or lighter in color, ranging from reddish-gold to chocolate or deep burgundy. Despite the fact that many horse fans believe sorrel and chestnut are two distinct hues, there is no distinction between them. Generally speaking, sorrel coats are described as having lighter hues or a distinct scarlet tinge, whereas chestnut coats are described as having deeper or browner tones.

The name’sorrel’ is more generally used in the Western United States, whilst the term ‘chestnut’ is more commonly used in the United Kingdom and along the eastern coast of the United States.

Horse Breeds That Can Have Sorrel Coat Color

  • Horse breeds include: Belgian Draft Horse, Argentine Anglo Horse, Racking Horse, American Paint Horse, Bavarian Warmblood Pony, Chincoteague Assateague Pony, Tennessee Walking Horse, Sella Italiano Horse, and Mountain Pleasure Horse.

Sorrel Horse Pictures

A red horse is nothing more than a red horse in the eyes of the uninitiated. Horse hues, on the other hand, are not so easily distinguished. There are a plethora of coat colours showing horses that, at first glance, appear to be identical. Aside from the few main colors, many of them are decorated with patterns, which can make naming them even more difficult. Your mind could be boggled by the question of what distinguishes a sorrel horse from its chestnut counterpart. The good news is that many horse enthusiasts find it difficult to look at a horse and determine the proper color term when they see it.

Which Horses Are Red?

The thered factor, often known as the recessive gene, is responsible for the red coats on chestnuts and sorrels. It’s important to understand that the effects of a recessive gene will not be seen if there is another dominant gene present. It is the dominant gene’s characteristic that rises to the surface and can be noticed, not the other genes. In a nutshell, a red horse possesses two of these red genes, which is how it acquired its color. Furthermore, a red-colored mare and stallion will always produce red offspring, no matter how many times they are crossed.

As a result, the dominant genetic code will determine the color of the horse’s body.

The e gene, on the other hand, will only create black pigment in the skin and will cause the hair to turn red.

Overall, using the precise phrase to designate horse colors might appear to be a difficult task at first look.

Does it come in red roan, chestnut, sorrel, or a combination of these colors and patterns? Is the hue a little darker or a little lighter? Horses with a reddish or reddish-brown color might have modest variances in appearance due to any of these variables.

Sorrel Horses

Chestnuts and sorrels have a red coat because of the thered factor, also known as the recessive gene. To clarify, if there is another dominant gene present, the effects of the recessive gene will not be seen. Observation is only possible because the dominant gene’s characteristic has risen to the surface. In a nutshell, a red horse possesses two of these red genes, which is how it acquired its hue. Also of note is that a red-colored mare and stallion will consistently produce red offspring. A recessive gene will mostly definitely be obscured by another hue that is present.

  • Having at least one copy of the dominant E allele ensures that a horse’s tail, mane, and legs are pigmented black.
  • A horse that has two copies of the recessive e/e alleles will not have any black pigment, but will instead have a shade of red pigmentation instead.
  • Does it come in red roan, chestnut, sorrel, or a mix of these colors and textures?
  • Horses with a reddish or reddish-brown color might have subtle changes in appearance due to any of these variables.

Chestnut Horses

Despite the fact that many people confuse chestnuts with sorrels, the former have a less intense red tint. Chestnut horses are darker than their sorrel relatives and typically have a brown shade. It is not necessary for the body to be the same color as the tail and mane. Instead, these can be blonde or any other color of your choosing. In chestnut horses, the mane and tail can be so dark that many will consider them black. This blackish appearance is due to the heavy red coloring since chestnuts don’t have a black genetic code.

The Ultimate Differences Between Sorrels And Chestnuts

The amount of darkness or lightness of a horse’s coat color is generally reflected in the way the color is named. As previously noted, sorrel horses have a completely red base color, but chestnut horses’ coats are generally brown or have a ‘liver’ tint to them. Furthermore, sorrels can have flaxen manes and tails, so don’t mix them with other reds that are similar in appearance. However, any deeper or black sheen marks across the horse’s body would indicate that the horse is chestnut in color.

When it comes to foals, owners can easily discern whether they have a sorrel or chestnut disposition.

The following section provides an explanation of the scientific basis for horse body coloration.

Genetic And Phenotypic Features Of Sorrels And Chestnuts

Chestnut and sorrel horses are genetically identical, at least in terms of their DNA. Any foal with a red coat has two red genes inherited from its parents, which are responsible for the color. Because of the recessive nature of this gene, other gene colors that are already present will override and replace the red hue of the gene. For example, a DNA test report from a sorrel or chestnut will reveal the ‘ee’ sequence of the DNA molecule. If the test does not demonstrate the presence of the ‘ee’ segment, your horse does not have any red shade.

Horses are given different names depending on where they are born in the world.

When referring to reddish horses of thoroughbred and Arabian breeds in Europe, the term “chestnut” is more commonly used. In contrast, the phrase “sorrel” refers to quarter horses in the Americas, and it is a frequently used expression.

How Much Do Sorrels Or Chestnuts Cost?

Horse costs can vary greatly depending on a number of different factors. A horse may cost as much as $100,000, depending on the age, location, and breeding of the horse you choose. In contrast, the typical cost of a sorrel or chestnut horse is around $5,000. The following are the characteristics that distinguish the mark:


The lineage of either the chestnut or the sorrel will influence the final fee you’ll have to spend. The majority of the time, foals produced by winning stallions and broodmares will unquestionably cost more than the odds indicate. For the most part, the bloodline and the likelihood of acquiring superior genes will determine how much a horse is worth on the market. As a result, even equines with no distinguishing characteristics or physical characteristics can be large if their parents or ancestors achieved amazing feats.

Age And Condition

The age and condition of the property are other important considerations when determining the price. For horses, their prime time can last anywhere between seven and fourteen years, with the majority of them living for over thirty years. In most cases, older horses will be less expensive, but the condition of the horse will determine the ultimate price.


Because the health of the horse you’re considering purchasing is so important, having it examined by a veterinarian is a necessary. A healthy horse will allow you to ride it both professionally and recreationally, depending on your needs. Horses suffering from injuries or diseases, on the other hand, will incur medical expenditures and will have a shorter lifetime and less mobility.

Organizational Divisions

Establishing the right nomenclature for horses depending on their coat color may lead to heated debates among horse enthusiasts. When it comes to deciding if a horse is a sorrel or a chestnut hue, it is extremely difficult to tell the difference between the two. Many names, aside from those based on science, are based on human tastes and beliefs. As an example, western horse fans like to refer to red horses as sorrels, whilst Englishmen prefer to refer to them as chestnuts. Furthermore, the color of the coat might vary based on the surroundings, the season, or the temperature of the animal.

According to the American Quarter Horse Association, sorrels have a copper-red chestnut hue, and the name “sorrel” is used interchangeably.

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The term “sorrel” does not appear in their Registry.

Some companies purposefully do not distinguish between sorrels and chestnuts in order to avoid unnecessarily complicated situations. When it comes to reddish and brown hues that do not fall into the ‘bay’ group, these people use the words chestnut or sorrel to describe them.

The Most Impressive Sorrels/Chestnuts In Horseracing History

Known as “the greatest chestnut racehorse of all time,” Secretariat was the most legendary of all time. The thoroughbred that destroyed multiple course records wore three white stockings and a tapering white mark on his forehead, among other distinguishing characteristics. After becoming the first Triple Crown champion in 25 years, Secretariat stunned the crowd by winning the Triple Crown. The stallion set the quickest time in all three races in 1973, and he continues to maintain that record to this day.

Secretariat’s chestnut genes generated hundreds of successful descendants over the course of the next several decades.

Dash for Cash is arguably the most well-known sorrel horse in the world.

When his racing career came to an end, Dash for Cash went on to produce some of the finest racing horses and broodmares in the history of the equestrian industry.

Bottom Line

In terms of color, the difference between sorrel and chestnut is that the first variety is lighter and more coppery in color, while the second is red with probable white markings. The second has a crimson coat that is either deeper or richer in color. According to genetics, both variations are endowed with genes that cause the reddish color to appear. The presence of other color genes in the parents will overwhelm the presence of the red gene. Were you aware of the several shades of red that may be seen in horse coats?

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Sorrel Horse: Color Genetics, Breeds and Shades of Chestnut

It might be difficult to determine the correct name for a horse’s coat color just on the basis of its look. Horse language may be befuddling, to say the least, especially when it comes to the many hues of horses available for purchase. In the end, what exactly is a sorrel horse? Sorrel horses are equines with a reddish coat color and no black pigmentation, as opposed to other breeds. When it comes to horses, it is one of the most common coat colors to see. Some breed registries and localities distinguish sorrel from chestnut by describing the former as a bright, coppery shade of red and the latter as a darker, browner shade of the same color.

Sorrel Horse Color Genetics

Colors of horse coats are often classified into three categories: bay, black, and chestnut. It is the interplay between two genes, Agouti Signaling Protein (ASIP) and Melanocortin 1 Receptor, that determines the appearance of these hues (MC1R). Red and black pigment are produced by the MC1R locus, which is also known as the extension locus or the red factor locus. At the molecular level, there are three distinct forms of the MC1R gene that are recognized: E, e, and e a. E is the most common of the three.

  • They are recessive to E.
  • ASIP, also known as Agouti, is a plant hormone that regulates the production of black pigment.
  • The red factor recessive gene is the gene that is responsible for the red color of sorrel horses.
  • For a horse to have a red coat, it must thus have two red genes in his or her DNA.
  • The presence of any other color would obscure the presence of the red, and the more dominant color gene would be visible instead of the red gene.

If an equine’s body is covered with black hair, this indicates that the animal possesses an allele of the E gene. Alternatively, the presence of the e allele leads in the formation of black pigment in the horse’s skin but not in its hair, resulting in the hair appearing red in color.

Horse Breeds That Can Have Sorrel Coat Color

As the name implies, this is a horse breed that is indigenous to Belgium and has been there for centuries. The hues chestnut/sorrel, bay, and black are the most frequently seen in Belgian horses. Although it is not unusual to see various colors, such as sorrel mixed with white, gray, dun, and red roan mixed with white, as well as black points, on this breed. Early Belgian horses were predominantly bay, with some roan and chestnut/sorrel thrown in for good measure. The desire for roan and sorrel colors became apparent in the 1920s when breeders in the United States began aggressively breeding them.

Currently, the sorrel or chestnut hue is the most sought-after color for Belgian horses in the United States.

You are most likely to come across bay roan, blue roan, strawberry roan, and dapple gray, which are the least frequent of the hues you will encounter.

Racking Horse

This is a horse breed that is descended from the Tennessee Walking Horse and has its roots in the state of Alabama in the United States of America. Horses used for racking are recognized for having an elegant physique that is typified by long sloping necks and shoulders, smooth well-boned legs, and broad flanks. This horse breed is also distinguished by its beautifully textured coat and a tail that will be grown in a natural manner. The Racking horse’s demeanor has been described as peaceful, relaxed, and loving, yet, like with any other breed of horse, this can vary from one individual to another depending on the circumstances.

Breeders can register horses in any solid equine color, including bay, black, spotted, brown, chestnut, yellow, gray, and sorrel.

Racking horses are also commonly found in hues that are the product of dilution genes, such as champagne, dun, and cream.

Bavarian Warmblood

The Bavarian Warmblood is a horse breed that originated in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. These horses are descended from the Rottaler, which is an old breed of horse that dates back thousands of years. Rottalers were originally employed for a variety of vocations such as plowing, riding, and carriage driving, but when breeding for competitive riding became a focus in 1963, they were dubbed Bavarian Warmbloods to distinguish them from their predecessors. Bavarians have a lot in common with other German warmbloods in terms of conformation, type, movement, internal traits, and leaping ability, to name a few characteristics.

These horses’ physical characteristics include sloping shoulders and strong hindquarters, as well as a short, straight back and a relatively long neck, a high-set tail, and long, muscular legs.

A typical coat color for Bavarian Warmblood horses is sorrel, however they can also have coats of any solid color, including black and bay. Individuals that wear jackets with white designs on them are considered undesirable.

Chincoteague Pony

Originally from Assateague Island, which is a barrier island between Maryland and Virginia, this is a wild horse breed that has been extinct. The Chincoteague pony is naturally independent, but if successfully tamed, they are easy to care for, amiable, and may even be kept as family pets if properly cared for. Chincoteague ponies have a particular tiny and stocky look, with short, thin legs, which distinguishes them from other horses. The head of this horse breed is tiny and somewhat concave, with well-angled shoulders, a broad chest, well-sprung ribs, and a short back with broad loins, all of which contribute to its athletic appearance.

Pinto, overo (solid color with white splashes), and tobiano (a white foundation with colorful irregular patches) are the most often encountered patterns.

Tennessee Walking Horse

The Tennessee Walking Horse is recognized for its characteristic stride, which makes it a comfortable horse to ride even for riders who suffer from back pain or other similar conditions. It is arguably most recognized for its running walk gait, which is exceptionally smooth and follows a footfall pattern that is identical to that of the flat walk, but somewhat quicker. However, while the Tennessee Walking Horse is naturally gifted with three different gaits—walk, canter, and running walk—it can also be taught to execute other movements such as the fox-trot, rack, and stepping-pace.

Bay, sorrel, black, white, chestnut, palomino, roan, and dun are just a few of the coat colors that may be seen on a dog of any breed.

The most prevalent of these coat patterns is Sabino.

Sella Italiano

This is a horse breed that was designed in order to produce a horse that had the power of an English Thoroughbred while still possessing the dependability of Italian horse breeds. A hybrid of the remaining indigenous Italian breeds of Persano, Maremmano, and Salernitano with Thoroughbreds, Arabo Sardo, Purosangue Orientale, and Arabians resulted in the creation of the breed. The horses must adhere to a proven origin before they can be registered, and they must have a draft breed heritage through the third generation in order to be eligible for registration.

They also have well-defined bodies with slim yet muscular structures and delicate-looking frames.

Jumping, eventing, and dressage are all popular disciplines for this horse breed. The Sella Italiano has acquired appeal as a show horse and as a sports horse because to its ability to be trained quickly, its want to please, its intelligence, its docility, its adaptability, and its docility.

Mountain Pleasure Horse

Originally from the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky, the Mountain Pleasure Horse is a breed of American horse that is known for its agility and speed. The straight profile of this breed of horse is distinguished by a moderately arched neck, a well-proportioned head, powerful, well-formed legs, sloping shoulders, and a deep and large chest cavity. The breed is calm, peaceful, adaptable, sensible, and clever, and it is also a good guard dog. This kind of horse is also extremely trainable, owing to its eagerness to please and readiness to learn.

The Mountain Pleasure Horse’s intermediate speed gait is characterized by a moderate forward speed and extension that does not include an exaggerated knee and knock action.

It is allowed to have almost any solid color in this breed of horse, with the most often occuring colors being bay, sorrel (sorrel), black, roan, palomino (palomino), gray cremello (gray), and roan.

What is the Difference Between a Chestnut and a Sorrel Horse?

As far as real red horses are concerned, sorrel horses can be any shade, whether dark or light in tone, and are regarded to be true red. For their part, chestnuts have a deeper brownish-red tint, and in certain cases they might even seem wine-colored. The majority of sorrel horses have a uniform color across their bodies, tails, and manes, with no additional distinguishing marks (apart from occasional white on legs or face). A sorrel horse, on the other hand, can have a flaxen/blonde colored tail and mane, but if the horse has any black markings on its body, the horse is classified as a chestnut.

It is important to note that the gene that gives these horses their red color is recessive, which means that the horse must have two red genes in order to have a red coat.

What is a Chestnut Horse Called?

Haflinger and Suffolk Punch horses, both of which are totally chestnut in color, are examples of chestnut-colored horse breeds. Other breeds, like as the Budyonny and the Belgian, have a primarily chestnut coat coloration. Breeds such as the Thoroughbred, Dutch Warmblood, American Saddlebred, Arabian, Morgan, Missouri Foxtrotter, and others that have chestnut coloring include the Thoroughbred, Dutch Warmblood, and American Saddlebred, among others.

What Does a Chestnut-Colored Horse Look Like?

Chestnut is another color that is frequently mistaken for a variation on the color red. A chestnut horse is distinguished by having a darker look than a sorrel horse and by having a brown tinge to their coat. The tail and mane of a sorrel horse might be the same color as the body, or they can be flaxen, as in a roan horse.

Can a Chestnut Horse Have a Black Mane and Tail?

A chestnut horse is a red horse with a tail and mane that are so dark that they resemble black, although the horse is still regarded to be red.

Note that chestnuts do not have the genetic makeup to have black tails or manes; the appearance of this coloration is primarily due to extremely strong pigmentation, which can cause the tail or mane to seem black when contrasting with another color on the horse’s body.

Shades of Chestnut

Chestnut horses are available in a range of colors, including the following: This term refers to any horse that has a full copper-reddish coat with a tail and mane that are the same or similar in color to the coat. Liver chestnuts are horses who have a dark reddish brown coat that is particularly noticeable. Small quantities of reddish hair on the mane, lower legs, and tail, as well as pedigree or DNA testing, can separate them from black chestnuts, which is a term that is sometimes used incorrectly.

The horse’s body, tail, and mane can all be a different shade of red, as long as the color is consistent across the entire animal.

Sometimes the color difference is only a shade or two, but it is not unusual to find flaxen chestnuts with almost-white tails and manes, as well as silverfish tails and manes on silverfish.

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Pale hairs around the snout and eyes, as well as a pale underbelly, distinguish these chestnut horses from other breeds.

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