View Full Version : Ways to tell if a foal will be grey?

Jan. 3, 2008, 06:28 PM
Other than having some white hairs mixed in, are there other ways to tell if a newborn foal will be turning grey or not? I've heard that the color of their skin at birth can be an indicator? Is that true? Are there any other ways to tell?

(we are expecting a foal this year out of a grey mare, by a bay stallion.)

Jan. 3, 2008, 06:48 PM
We usually use the "old fashioned" criterea. ie: One parent is grey PLUS:

1. a grey eyelash is indicative on any color.
2. mauve colored skin around eyes, muzzle, etc. on a CHESTNUT foal will stay chestnut. Black skin in these areas on a CHESTNUT may indicate ie will turn grey (especially if a grey eyelash is found)
3. Foals born true black often turn grey even without a grey eyelash. Foals that will be black are more usually a "mousy" color at birth.
4. A few grey hairs on the head. (a sprinkling on the body MAY be misleading).

Our colt this year was born with very black head and neck while his body was 'mousey'. He did not have any grey eyelashes. Both parents (one dark bay, the other grey) carried both black and bay genes. We were wondering about the colt's color until he scratched his face and the new hair came in, you guessed it ... grey.

Jan. 3, 2008, 07:25 PM
My filly last year was out of a black/brown mare & a grey stallion, so I wondered the same thing ? She was born totally black & then her body turned sortof sable brown, while her legs & head stayed black. I was sure since she had no sign of grey or white hairs that she would stay dark, but had several knowledgeable people tell me that she was too dark & would likely turn grey ? I also thought I would see a sign of grey quickly, but she was at least a month old before I noticed a few grey hairs around her ears first. She is still very black, but now has a sprinkling of white hairs throughout. . . Sorry I can't post pictures, but it is fun to figure out ?

Good luck -

Jan. 3, 2008, 07:36 PM
My 2007 foal was born dark bay with a star and foot, but the sire was gray, and he had a little gray right on the edge of his muzzle. I had one person tell me his star was too distinct for him to turn and that he would be a bay (huh?). The stallion owner, standing her gray Arab for nearly 20 years and seeing dozens of foals, emailed back when I emailed her the birth announcement that she would absolutely, 100% guarantee that this was a gray.

She was right. At 8 months, he is a hodgepodge roan with a skunk stripe. His beautiful star was one of the starting points for gray, and he grayed out from there.

So I guess my method is to find a breeder with decades of experience standing a gray stud and send her photos for her expert opinion.

Jan. 3, 2008, 07:57 PM
Having had a grey stallion and lots of grey mares, I'm way better at telling than I used to be!

The obvious answer is that a grey foal has to have a grey parent, for starters! (But you probably already knew that! ;) )

Chestnut or palomino foals that are going to STAY colored will be born with pink/coral/salmon colored skin around their eyes. It begins to change pretty fast, so observing the color in the first day will tell you there.

If a chestnut or palomino foal is born with BLACK skin around the eyes, it will turn grey.

The bays are not always quite as obvious, however, if the legs on a bay foal are mousy/tan color, you are usually looking at a non-grey foal. If the legs are born BLACK -- as in "mature horse color", then the foal will turn grey.

Another tip for the dark colored foals -- on a leg that does NOT have a white marking, if the hoof is "horn" or whitish colored, you have a non grey foal. If on a non white marked leg, the hoof is BLACK, you have a grey foal (I'm talking about at birth -- not later on).

Foals born BLACK -- as in "jet black" are destined to be grey (in most cases). Sometimes they will have telltale white hairs somewhere -- sometimes they will not.

Foals that WILL be black are born a sooty/mousy/silvery color, in most cases.

And then there are the ones that are born really obvious, that already have grey "goggles" when they arrive! Those are guaranteed to have the best, prettiest, and most symetrical and perfect markings on any foal you have ever produced. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Ridge Runner
Jan. 3, 2008, 08:46 PM
Great tips! My clients have a lot of gray in their breeding program and we spent last Spring arguing over what color the foals would be...gray or not gray...so it will be fun to have an "edge" on the guessing!

Jan. 3, 2008, 08:51 PM
I'm going to post pics of a foal that ended up grey and a foal that ended up black.

You guess who is who!

Even more fun - both foals were by grey stallions! Can you guess who they are?

Jan. 3, 2008, 11:25 PM
I'm guessing the foal with the larger star is the one that went grey.

Jan. 3, 2008, 11:42 PM
Here are some more to look at and guess who stayed black and who didn't... :)

Hocus Focus
Jan. 4, 2008, 02:01 AM
Hmmmm... hard to say... first impression... of the two foals, the one with the star went gray. The second group. Not having studied real close I am saying the second went grey.

When I have looked, it was for a few white hairs on the face independent of other markings and sometimes lightly over flank or hip area. Other comments I found very interesting and again you learn something new every day.

Now tell me I got one right on the pics. I could do a better job looking in person than the overall picture idea....I think.

aren't all babies the cutest?

Jan. 4, 2008, 02:46 AM
I'd say out of the five Tasker posted that the middle one (bay) and the last one are greys.
The second to last one (dark bay) does -not- look grey. First two are harder to say, but I'd say the first one was grey if I had to guess. Second one . . I can't tell on that one.

Jan. 4, 2008, 07:07 AM
What do you think about this one?

I have a horse from a grey dam /chestnut sire who was born black (don't know if it was mousey black) but the breeder expected him to gray out. When I bought him as a yearling he was 'fading black' and had mousey gray inside one nostril and a few white whiskers on that side of his nose. He also had a tiny roanish patch on his side. I thought he would eventually grey out.

Well, he's 5 now and is still the same 'fading black' colour. The markings are still there, no bigger, although I notice a few white hairs on the bridge of his nose.

So can I safely assume he will stay black (personal preference but won't really matter either way) or is it still possible he will grey out some day?

Jan. 4, 2008, 10:37 AM
Regarding the first two foals.

The first foal - with the tiny star is by Ironman. He ended up a true black!

The second foal - with more white on his face is by Fuerst Gotthard. He ended up grey!

Jan. 4, 2008, 11:20 AM
Fuerst Gotthard is homozygous for gray so all you can get by him is gray. The Arab stallion that the owner said the foal will 100% gray is probably homozygous as well.

I have heard, and tried a couple of times, that you can clip a patch on the foal's chest and the color underneath the foal coat will be the adult color.

Jan. 4, 2008, 04:56 PM
Thanks for such great advice, everyone!! larapintavian and rideagoldenpony especially, that is exactly what I was looking for. :)

Anyone else with foal pictures to guess on? (that's fun)

When we bought our mare (who is grey), we were told that her previous foals were all grey - but also that she had been bred to 100% grey stallions. So we don't know if she is homozygous - sure wish you could DNA test for that. I am excited to see what we end up with this year!

Jan. 4, 2008, 06:43 PM
For the five above...

First filly - true black (chestnut dam, black sire)
Second colt - true black (black dam, chestnut sire)
Third colt - grey base liver chestnut (grey dam - base chestnut, chestnut sire)
Fourth colt - true black (grey dam - base black, chestnut sire)
Fifth colt - grey - base black (grey dam - base black, chestnut sire)

Here are more definitive pictures...

Jan. 4, 2008, 06:44 PM
A couple more to guess at... :)

Jan. 4, 2008, 07:09 PM
risingstar - I was totally stumped by your two. No matter how hard I looked, it was easy to make a case for grey (or not) for both of them!!! :lol: I guess that is part of the fun, right? :)

Jan. 4, 2008, 07:18 PM
LOL Tasker. We HOPED for a black colt and were very happily surprised when he didn't turn grey :-)

The other one was going to be grey no matter what with FG as his sire.

I'm going to guess on your last three posted.


Hocus Focus
Jan. 4, 2008, 10:21 PM
I did good on Rising Star... pure luck, I might add.
I did awful on Tasker.... more luck, just not good luck.


These three are.....


in that order.

Prima Equestrian
Jan. 5, 2008, 12:13 AM
Our new Indorado x Indoctro coming yearling was born almost black and started turning grey at a few months. Her sire is a grey and her dam is a dark bay. You could not tell she would turn grey until she was a few months and right now she is black with some white hairs.

We have some photos of her on our site and you can see a video of her with her mom when she was a few months old at:

She is our first grey :)

Jan. 6, 2008, 10:18 PM
Prima - she is beee-you-tiful!!! Congratulations on having such a pretty grey filly! :) :yes:

The last group is
Black colt - black dam, chestnut sire
Black filly - dark bay dam, chestnut sire (didn't think it would happen but it did) :D
Dark Bay colt - black dam, dark bay sire

Jan. 6, 2008, 10:23 PM
Call it Blackie and it will end up white.

Absolutely guaranteed ;)

Jan. 7, 2008, 12:59 AM
Look for grey hair at the top of the tail. It often shows up as stripes. Also many future grey horses turn under their hind legs first. I have a lovely grey mare that was born chestnut and was rose grey by age three. Her one offspring was born dark chestnut/almost black and he turned grey as well. They are hard to keep clean in the Georgia red clay, but grey horses are sure pretty under saddle!

Royal Monaco
Jan. 7, 2008, 12:42 PM
I have a 8 month colt out of a grey mare (born palomino) and from a bay stallion (Royal T). I am still wondering if he will turn grey because I found few white hairs in his winter coat. He has some white hairs in his rosette in the middle of his neck ans few ones on his back...

As a newborn, his legs were pale and his coat a real red bay. His legs turned black around 4 months.

You can see a picture on him here: http://www.royalsenna.nstemp.com/images/monaco_28_aot.jpg

Anyone knows what kind of color I will get ?

I tried the shaving thing and it was still bay...