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Where do dapples come from?

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  • Where do dapples come from?

    A rather silly question.

    My dark bay TB is covered in GORGEOUS dapples this year.

    My question is, where do they come from and what influences them?

    I have owned him for 3-4 years and never before has he had any.

    I'll correct myself a bit...he had very very faint ones last year that lasted about a week.

    Do they come with age? Good nutrition? Genetic?

  • #2
    I'd be interested in this as well. I have a very, very dappled chestnut. I know that his sire is black and dappled, so I'm guessing that genetics plays some role. However, when I had my horse stabled at a place that fed very low quality hay, he lost his dapples. I somewhat thought that he was losing his dapples as he aged, but they came back full force when I moved him to a barn that fed very high quality hay. He now has dapples even in the middle of winter. The hair in the dapples is actually slightly shorter than the rest of his winter coat, so he kind of looks like a basketball, lol.

    Anyway, I'd also be very interested in hearing from someone who knows the real answer to this question.


    • #3
      I think with gray horses, dapples is part of a graying pattern. But with other horses, I feel both genetics and good nutrition/coat care come into play. I remember one barn where the "in" thing was to feed the supplement "Dapples" for a healthy coat. It was made up of fatty acids and biotin, so I always assumed the way it worked was the extra fat had to be excreted somehow and came up in the coat. I think you see it more with their Spring/Summer coat as they shed out, oils in the hair help. Overall, I think genetics play a big part in whether the horse gets dapples, but the horse has to have a healthy coat.


      • #4
        There is a supplement that I feed - ProForm Elite Ultra from U.S. Animal Nutrtionals - that brings out the dapples if your horse has the genetics for it. It's a multivitamin so I don't know what specifically brings them out.
        Laurie Higgins
        "Expectation is premeditated disappointment."


        • #5
          Something to do with sunlight

          I can't remember where I learned this, but dappling is also effected by the length of daylight - hence it's seen more often in the Spring. From a prey point of view, they can hide in blossoming trees better?

          Can't wait to hear the real story!


          • #6
            Well, I know as my guys get too much sun, the dapples aren't as prominent, so I always figured they bleached out. But when in during the day, and lots of grooming, dapples come out full force! Plus, being a bit on the fat side seems to help!


            • #7
              From what I read a while back, it seemed that dapples are (as others have said) caused by a combination of health and genetics. Some horses are prone to getting dapples while others aren't, and some horses that are prone to getting dapples might never get them if they don't have a healthy coat. I think dapples are almost always a sign of a healthy coat, although I'm sure there are some exceptions.

              My boy was never really cared for super well before I got him (a year ago or so). Not that he was neglected, just not super duper loved. : D; Last year when he shedded out, it was normal - fuzzy bay TB to shiny bay TB. This year the transition was accompanied by strange blotches that manifested into dapples, and they keep getting more visible (I'm so happy... : D )

              He's always had a super shiny coat, but this is the first year that he's had dapples. I'm sure I would have notices them last year, so I have to believe that my constant brushing and attention to his coat has had some influence on his dappling out this spring.


              • Original Poster

                Hmm, interesting.

                When I first got him he was malnourished and was on his way to being better last year but within the past year his diet has been better and his body condition looks the best I've ever seen it. I am sure the cocosoya oil and omega horseshine help his coat out a bit. That and the fact that I currie comb vigorously every day. He just looks wonderful. He goes out during the day so they'll probably fade away as summer sets in but I'll enjoy them for now.


                • #9
                  I can't remember where I learned this, but dappling is also effected by the length of daylight - hence it's seen more often in the Spring. From a prey point of view, they can hide in blossoming trees better?
                  That's interesting! Never thought about it that way. Only one of mine dapples (a bay) and it's always (and only) when the "new" hair comes in, spring and fall.
                  Click here before you buy.


                  • #10
                    Leaving gray out of the equation (as that is indeed part of the graying process in some horses - dappling as opposed to roaning), it's genetics.

                    Well, let me say, the genetics have to be there. If they aren't, no dapples regardless of time of year or nutrition.

                    Good nutrition can bring out the dapples. Coat changes can bring them out. Some colors, like palominos, are very prone to having a dappled Winter coat (all Winter), but not the Summer coat.
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                    • #11
                      I remember discussing this with my vet at some point last year. Apparently it's due to how the fat plumps under the skin that actually causes dapples. Part of it is a genetic predisposition but also involved is general health and nutrition.
                      "ronnie was the gifted one, victor was the brilliant intellect, and i [GM], well, i am the plodder."


                      • #12
                        I know my rather plump, bay mare is very dapple-y nearly year round. I am a good groom, but not obsessive. She also is one to stay in during hot summer days, out at night so very little bleaching out and dapples galore. But when I let her be a horse and get very hairy over the winter, no dapples, the winters that I kept her clipped/blanketed, dapples. The only time I can think of that she really wasn't dappled was when she wasn't very plump one Fall when she was being treated for Lyme, and her coat looked very dull/dry. My vet told me to try her on Mirra Coat and wheat germ oil and that brightened/dappled her back up.


                        • #13
                          I've always wondered if there is a scientific reason for dappling...never heard of one and I've been around a LONG time!

                          What I find facinating is the various types of dapples. My mare is a dark bay/brown, almost black and she has huge gold dapples. My gelding is plain brown and he gets tiny, tiny circular dapples in black. I had a liver chestnut (chocolate color) who dappled red.


                          • #14
                            Both my buckskins have heavy dappling:



                            Never really understood what caused it but assume it was genetic.


                            • #15
                              When I was a kid, there was an Equine Dentist in the area named Johnny Heffner. Johnny was more of a mad scientist, in some ways, than a dentist. In any event, he swore that dapples were a product of *perfect internal conditioning*.

                              Over the years, I have come to agree with him. I have everything from pintos to black horses here, and they all will dapple. Maybe it has something to do with genetics-- I mean, they are all the same breed-- but, I dunno!
                              When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Auventera Two View Post
                                Both my buckskins have heavy dappling:



                                Never really understood what caused it but assume it was genetic.
                                If either of them go missing... don't look over here .
                                \"For all those men who say, \"Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,\" here\'s an update for you: Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it\'s not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage.\"-


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Sakura View Post
                                  If either of them go missing... don't look over here .
                                  LOL trust me, you wouldn't want either of them! Fat foundered easy keepers. Not good!

                                  ASB - that's very interesting!!


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by ASB Stars View Post
                                    In any event, he swore that dapples were a product of *perfect internal conditioning*.
                                    FWIW, my friend's dark buckskin QH mare, whose diet consists of old, stemmy grass hay, a handful of a oats/corn/soy bean mixture, and a few hours out on a weak pasture, has the most beautiful buckskin dapples. She gets a basic grooming maybe once or twice a week, almost no exercise, and is pretty overweight.

                                    If that's "perfect internal conditioning," I'm spending way too much money on my horse's diet.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Sakura View Post
                                      If either of them go missing... don't look over here .
                                      AT, I have to agree with Sakura. Dont' care if they are fat, foundered easy keepers. I have a dry lot!! But in all seriousness, the first one is unbelievably stunning. They are both beautiful, but that darker one is not to be belived. WOW!


                                      • #20
                                        I have no idea really, but I know of a palomino mare who was plain pale palomino.
                                        She was bought by an upper level eventer and as she got more grain feed, alfalfa and in harder condition she changed to a dark palomino with a beautiful sheen and dapples.
                                        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique