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What would make adult horse roan out?

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  • What would make adult horse roan out?

    I have a roughly 12 year old bay quarter grade gelding who started roaning out about 2 years ago. I got him from a humane society about 3 years ago, they had him for 3 years, so was about 6 when he arrived there (so I don't think his age is far off of their estimate and he's just graying from old age). He was a solid bay with just a little spotty white star. No white anywhere else. Now he has roaned all over, his entire head has a lot of white, so much that he looks like he's old (non-horsey person asked me how old he was since he was turning gray). His body has roaned all over, not as much as his head (and the base of his tail). What would make him roan out starting at approximate age of 10 or so? Thanks!
    Green Bean Farm

  • #2


    • #3
      I don't have the answer but have the same question! My 10 year old bright chestnut OTTB is getting roan. It is so odd. He has a teeny star but now his face is getting more and more scattered white and his body is too. What is the deal with that?
      Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


      • #4
        Many old horses get some white hairs scattered around. You can call it roaning, but AFAIK it is not in any way related genetically to the roan color pattern.

        Probably just "gray hairs", like we all get.
        Click here before you buy.


        • #5
          Like others said...grey hairs...

          My mare is 23 now. She was born with a diamond shaped star. She now pretty much has a blaze in addition to lots of other white hairs...it's just part of the aging process. I think hers started around 12-15 YO.
          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

          Might be a reason, never an excuse...


          • #6
            My 23 year old chestnut had none, nor did my 26 year old bay.
            Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


            • #7
              I don't think it's a universal thing, but certainly seems to happen to "a number of horses" as they age. Just like people--not everyone goes gray, nor at the same rate.
              Click here before you buy.


              • #8
                As an owner of grays and admirer of roans, my experience has been that most roan horses keep a dark head and dark lower legs and are roan over the rest of their body (degree varies by horse). The opposite is true with a graying horse - the head is usually the first part to start showing gray. Sounds to me like you've more likely got a graying horse than a roaning one.
                It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.


                • #9
                  I wouldn't consider 10 to be old, or even old enough to start getting the "old horse" gray hairs Most likely it's related to Sabino, as that can very easily start showing up and increase with age. It can even be seasonal.

                  The description doesn't fit graying at all, and true Roan would not take this long to show up.
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                  • #10
                    I would wager that just as many people begin to "go gray" in their 20s while others don't until their 60s or even later, it might be the same with horses.

                    (completely unrelated to genetic gray coloring, of course)
                    Click here before you buy.


                    • #11
                      Some TB lines will "roan" with age, the names escape me now. Keep in mind many QH's, unless they are strictly cow/reining horses, have TB crosses in their pedigree. Especially the racing QH's are often more than 1/2TB. In fact one of my favorite crosses is QH/TB, 3/4 to 7/8 TB.
                      "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
                      Courtesy my cousin Tim


                      • #12
                        We had a bay appy with appy characteristics but no spots.
                        At ten he started looking red roan all over, his face especially.
                        Not sure what kind of genetics were involved, but my guess was some sabino.


                        • #13
                          we got our 6 yr old appy gelding in January. His face was completely solid in color, except for his blaze. I noticed in June, his face is mostly roaned out. I was shocked as well. I wondered if change in diet or circumstances have dne it. 6 is pretty young too. and his teeth are showing a 5-6 yr old horse, so i know it's not that he is aged.


                          late may


                          • #14
                            Appy varnish can take quite a few years to start the varnishing process, so for a non-gray appy whose face started really roaning out, that's the go-to reason.
                            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Tom Bloomer View Post

                              One of my TWH's was a beautiful sorrel with a flaxen mane and tail. except for a star on his forehead and one white leg, there wasn't a white hair to be found on him-------------------until 2 or 3 years ago

                              He just turned 19 and has roaned out so much the proverbial "man on a galloping horse" can see the roan.

                              That's what happens when your lineage takes you back to some guy named "Roan Allen" It doesn't always happen but the DNA roaning deck must've been stacked where my horse is concerned.

                              I've owned him since he was 2-1/2, so I know he's never been sick or had ulcers to where something would alter his coat color.


                              • Original Poster

                                Thanks for the replies. While he has more grey on his head and base of tail, he is greying out all over - neck, belly, legs, butt, etc. No idea what his lineage is...could have app in him I suppose. Just looks like a little fat QH, short and stocky. Just thought it was odd to roan out at his age (12).
                                Green Bean Farm


                                • #17
                                  Given the gray at the base of the tail, he may also be Rabicano in addition to Sabino. Both can get more apparent as a horse gets older.
                                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET