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Color people: what causes feathers to change color?

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  • Color people: what causes feathers to change color?

    Dexter is a June 2010 draft cross.

    Winter coat, 18 months old

    Summer coat

    When he shed out all the white feathers, I assumed they were just some sort of young horse coat weirdness. But now that his winter coat is coming in, it looks like the white feathers are coming back.

    I've never heard of feathers changing color like this, so what would cause it?

    If it helps:

    The skin on his legs is black. He doesn't have any true white leg markings.

    He has a very faint star but otherwise his head is solid. No white ticking, no white around the eyes.

    He has very sparse white ticking in his winter coat. You have to be next to him to see it. Summer coat is pretty solid.

    His breeding is a mystery. The draft in him might be Shire. Whatever the cross is, it downsized the draft quite a bit -- last time I sticked him, he was 13.2ish and he string tests to 14.2/15hh.
    She Gets Lost

  • #2
    Ummm... I do not see white in the feathers in either pic.

    That said, IME, it is not uncommon for winter feathering to come in considerably lighter than the normal coat.
    I had a bay TWH, not a marking or white hair anywhere on him, and his feathering would come in champagne colored every Winter.
    He'd also show the lightening on his lower legs that I do see in your pic.

    He was registered TWHBEA but feathered so heavily in the Winter I had to clip to prevent iceballs forming.
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


    • Original Poster

      On the front legs, at least, the white hairs that were there last winter/are coming in now were mostly long feather hairs, not short leg hairs. I can't remember about the back legs and don't think I've seen them coming in yet.

      Although you're right the whole leg is lighter -- less black points etc in the winter pic. I hadn't really been paying attention to that, just noticed the white.

      Still curious about whether there's a known cause or if it's just one of those things that happens with summer/winter coats.
      She Gets Lost


      • #4
        Very typical of many bays from Winter to Summer. It's just a bay thing
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


        • #5
          I have one that is a similar color to your guy complete with the buff under carriage. The change in feather color is also very dramatic.

          This is him.

          and here is a closer look at the feathers

          makes me wonder if there is a relationship to that reddish base color--my guy is very red bay/yellow toned and gets the buff coloring all under his belly in winter.
          Redbud Ranch
          Check us out on FB


          • Original Poster

            So, sounds like I can chalk my surprise up to a lack of observational skills over the years. Not the first time...

            goodpony, your guy is very, very cute!

            You might be on to something about the redder base color. I think all the other bays at the barn have a much blacker coat than my guy, and I can't remember seeing such a significant change with them. Although I wouldn't bet donuts on my observational skills on this kind of thing, so... take that for what it's worth.
            She Gets Lost


            • #7
              I have a SUPER dark bay TB but he gets the creamy looking hair on his legs in the winter, plus his belly (towards his sheath area) turns almost completely WHITE. Very strange to look at. Your guy is adorable!
              Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.


              • #8
                Ginger, I would LOVE to see Summer and Winter pictures of him!
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET