Piebald Horse: Characteristics, Behavior & More (With Photos)

When people hear about a piebald horse, they may immediately think it is a type of horse breed.

However, this isn’t the case since piebald horse is more of a descriptive term used to show a particular horse color, seen in any breed of horse.

In the US, all colored horses of any kind will be classified as American Paint Horse.

Piebald horses fall under this classification, so let’s look at what they really are.

What is a Piebald Horse?

The term “piebald horse” refers to a color pattern found on the coat of a particular horse of any breed.

Piebald horses refer to a combination of white and black coat color, and should not be mistaken for a skewbald or pinto horse.

@spooks_official beauty in black!🖤✨#piebaldhorse #horseoutfit #sparkle #spookslove ♬ Originalton – spooks_official

The piebald pattern is mainly made up of a white base color interspersed with an irregular patch or even patches of black.

Physical Characteristics of a Piebald Horse

Piebald horses are identified by specific physical characteristics and markings.

Markings

Piebald horses are characterized by coat markings which are made up of black splotches scattered all over a white background. Coat color genetics are responsible for these markings and colors namely tobiano, sabino, overo, and frame overo.

Colors

Tobiano

tobiano horses

Tobiano horses usually have white colorations on their backs and legs. An exception though would be Hucul horses from Poland which carry minimal tobiano markings that can be located only as white spots on their legs. (1) These are otherwise called crypto-tobiano.

Their heads are usually a solid color while the coat along their spines is marked with a white line which sets a tobiano horse apart from other colors.

The tobiano color pattern gene is the dominant gene responsible for this coat coloring. (2)

ALSO CHECK: Grullo Horse Color

Overo

The overo pattern carries similar coat markings to tobiano horses. They do not have a distinct white line along the spinal area though.

Sabino

a sabino horse walking

A mutation gene, known as Sabino 1, gives rise to a sabino spotting pattern in piebald horses. (3)

This usually presents as white patches along the belly and flank that are speckled with black along the edges, otherwise known as “roaning”.  White patches may also be seen on the face of the horse.

Frame Overo

Frame overo is one of the more common color patterns for piebald horses. These are usually seen as patches that are both irregular and horizontally shaped.

The tail of this kind of horse often comes in just one color. These horses are often colored black on the lower part of their legs.

The head of horses with frame overo coat color is usually white. It is common to see a piebald horse with blue eyes.  

How to Tell If Your Horse is a Piebald

person looking through something with a magnifying glass

The only way to tell if your horse is a piebald is by studying its markings.

There are many genetic mutations that are involved when it comes to piebald horses, unlike in other animals that have a piebald gene. Due to this, you would need genetic markers for genetic testing.

One of the few exceptions though would be in the case of Polish Hucul horses, which do not have as many markings compared to other piebald horses.

Cute Pictures and Videos of the Piebald

Check out these links for pics and vids of different piebald horses.

  • Here’s another pic of an awesome piebald horse.

  • Here’s a video of a cute piebald mare
  • Check out this short documentary about a piebald pony.

Piebald Horse Behavior

Paint horses are quite sociable and easygoing. They are highly intelligent and thus, are easy to train. 

Piebald horses, being one of many types of paint horses, exhibit the same kind of temperament. They are friendly, sociable, and quite relaxed. 

They are quite strong and agile as well, so it can be quite rewarding to have them as part of your stable.

Piebald Horse Health 

Paint horses can live up to an average of 30 years.

For overo horses though, there is such a disease known as lethal white overo (LWO) caused by a genetic disorder. (4)

This causes a foal to immediately develop abnormalities along the intestines which is lethal to the foal, immediately shortening its lifespan.

If breeding for color, you must be careful to avoid lethal white syndrome. Learn more about it here.

How Much is a Piebald Horse? 

Paint horses can cost anywhere from $750-2000, depending on the age and coloration of the horse. Though highly trained, piebald horses with a successful show record can cost must more.

Where and How Can You Get a Piebald Horse?

Piebald horses are usually sold by breeders. Some of them may even be advertised.

You can easily check them out through online searches which can easily show you where to buy these paint horses. However, always be careful with approaching sellers online as there are a lot of unscrupulous ones.

The best way to buy a piebald horse is to enlist the help of an experienced trainer that will find one for you.

Don’t forget to give your horse a name! If you’d like to get some ideas on what to name your new horse, you can check out this list by clicking piebald horse names.

Difference Between a Piebald Horse and a Skewbald Horse 

A piebald horse has a black base coat mixed with white markings. A skewbald horse is similar, except they don’t have black patches of hair.

Skewbald horses often have bay or brown patches, but they can have any color except black.

This video features a stunning skewbald horse.

Difference Between a Piebald Horse and a Pinto

The term “pinto” refers to the coat pattern that a horse has which is not specific to any breed. It’s the same as asking what is a grulla horse where the answer will pertain more to a horse’s color rather than its breed.

It refers to a horse having a base color mixed with patches of a second color. Both the piebald horse and skewbald horse are considered pinto horses.

FAQs

Why is a horse called piebald?

Piebald refers to a coat pattern in animals caused by the piebald gene which results in a mix of white and black. A horse is called a piebald because of its coat color which is black mixed with white patches.

What breed of horses does a piebald horse come from?

A piebald horse is not exclusive to any breed. The term piebald horse is used to describe the horse’s coat color, rather than the breed. It is particularly common with Gypsy Vanners and is also found in the American Quarter Horse.

Conclusion

A piebald horse is any horse that has a black coat with splotches of white mixed into the base color. 

It’s a wonderful coat color that is unusual in horses and because of this, expect a piebald horse to stand out in any stable where it is seen.

What are Piebald Horses

What are your thoughts on Piebald Horses? Let us know down in the comment section!

Resources

  1. Pasternak, Marta, et al. “Genetic, Historical and Breeding Aspects of the Occurrence of the Tobiano Pattern and White Markings in the Polish Population of Hucul Horses – a Review.” Journal of Applied Animal Research, vol. 48, no. 1, 1 Jan. 2020, pp. 21–27, 10.1080/09712119.2020.1715224. Accessed 2 May 2022.
  2. Duffield, D. A., and P. L. Goldie. “Tobiano Spotting Pattern in Horses: Linkage of to with AlA and Linkage Disequilibrium.” The Journal of Heredity, vol. 89, no. 1, 1 Jan. 1998, pp. 104–106, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9487684/, 10.1093/jhered/89.1.104. Accessed 2 May 2022.
  3. “Sabino 1 | Veterinary Genetics Laboratory.” Vgl.ucdavis.edu, vgl.ucdavis.edu/test/sabino-1#:~:text=Sabino%20is%20a%20white%20spotting. Accessed 2 May 2022.
  4. Young, Amy. “Lethal White Overo Syndrome (LWO).” School of Veterinary Medicine, 9 June 2020, ceh.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/health-topics/lethal-white-overo-syndrome-lwo.
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