Coat Color Pattern Descriptions

Find My Horses Presents: Color Coat Pattern Descriptions

The following is a list of different Coat Color Pattern Descriptions for Horses. Each pattern is described so you should be able to tell them apart when you see them.

Coat Color Pattern Descriptions

  • Tobiano: (pronounced: tow be yah' no) This is the most common pattern, the spots are usually oval or round patterns that extend down over the neck and chest giving the appearance of a shield. Most horses have white legs below the knees and hocks with white across the back between the withers and the dock of the tail. Most of the time the white is arranged in a roughly vertical pattern with more white than dark. The head is usually dark and with markings like that of a typical horse. i.e., star, snip, strip, or blaze.
  • Overo: (pronounced: oh vair" oh) The head markings on the Overo is usually a blaze or bald face. The true Overo will usually have four dark legs, and the white markings on the body or neck will appear to be framed by the contrasting coat. As a general rule, the white markings will not cross the back between the withers and the tail. The tail will normally be one color. The Overo paint may be either predominately dark or white. Blue eyes may be encountered in the Overo color pattern
    • Frame Overo: The most familiar overo pattern, the gene for a frame has been genetically mapped and in the homozygous form, results in Lethal White Syndrome (LWS, LWO+, OLW depending on the registry). Visually identified frames have no health defects connected to their color and are characterized by ragged, sharp white patches on the sides of the body, leaving a "frame" of non-white color that typically includes the topline.  It is possible for a Frame Horse to be of solid coloring.  Only Genetic Testing can prove a horse Positive or Negative. This is not something to be guessed at especially when breeding.
    • Splash Overo: typically have blue eyes and crisp, smooth, blocky white markings that almost always include the head and legs. The tail is often white or white-tipped, and body markings originate under the belly and extend "upwards." Horses can have just a little white marking or look like they have been dipped in White Paint.
    • Tovero: (pronounced: tow vair' oh)(also known as Tobero  (pronounced: tow bair' oh) ) spotting pattern that is a mix of tobiano and overo coloration, such as blue eyes on a dark head.
  • Sabino: (pronounced: sa bee no) Often confused with roan, sabino is a slight spotting pattern characterized by high white on legs, belly spots, white markings on the face extending past the eyes and/or patches of roaning patterns standing alone or on the edges of white markings.


When you hear someone say a horse has a lot of Chrome you might think "what are they talking about?"  Chrome on a horse is white markings.  Matching Chrome is even more desirable.  Matching Chrome is usually four leg markings all of a similar height.  All socks or all stockings.  Chrome can also be on a horses face.  It is usually a big evenly marked blaze or a nice star and snip that compliment each other.

Do you have a horse with Chrome that you would like to add to this gallery?  Please send the photo with a note to us at, and we will add the photo to this page.

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References: Animal Genetics and Wikipedia

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