These are some of the commonly recognized coat patterns that Soulons, and Tiger Horses display.

Below: The Leopards (Lp gene heterozygous 25% chance for colorful foals).Born with these markings, the spots vary in size between individuals. Striped hooves are part of the Leopards coat pattern, unless they inherit socks (Sabino, or Splash gene, in which case hooves will be amber beneath white markings). The spots don’t change but the bright hue of newborns is influenced by the Lp gene upon maturity. Reds will deepen in color. Bays may look black at birth but then show their true color later. Manes and tails while striped or solid in color at birth, usually become quite white as adults. Mottled muzzles and genitalia is not uncommon. 


Below: The Near Leopards. (Lp gene heterozygous, 25% chance for colorful foals).Except for hue changes, their blanket spots never change. Front ends can roan upon maturity exhibiting characteristics of the roan gene. Some are mimimally marked with smaller spotted blankets. The minimally marked ones seldom change in appearance except for manes and tails which tend to stripe, or whiten over time. Striped hooves accompany this coat pattern as do mottled muzzles and genitalia.


Below: Ghost (or Appaloosa Fewspots) LP/LP = Homozygous, which means they inherited two copies of the Lp gene, and pass one copy to their foals). Some foals don’t appear to have inherited a copy because they are solid in color, and might not change over time. These we call “hidden leopards” but striped hooves are a telltale sign that they have inherited a copy of the Lp gene, and can produce unexpected spots on some of their foals. The Ghosts are unique in many ways including the gaits they inherit. Their coat patterns are unusual displaying one or two spots, and usually on only one side of their white bodies. Common identifiers are their dark legs, heads, chests, and ear markings, especially before the age of seven, which make for a striking contrast. In time they can roan over their darker markings and appear to be white horses. (Some are born white). Wetting white horses down for correct identification is a good way to differentiate them from gray horses. .


If the underlying skin of a white horse is mottled, you are looking at the Lp gene. If it is black, you are looking at a gray horse, one we like to avoid because Grays eventually lose birth day spots.
The foal below on his birth day, and next at 18 months old. Notice his mane has whitened but face and body markings are still in tact. This could change over time exhibiting more white hairs mixed in the darker areas, and especially on the face.
Far right two mature Ghost Horse mares. Manes and tails striped but mostly white.


Imposters can closely resemble these Lp gene horses. Look for white ear backs and pink skin for identification. Ghosts have roan backed ears. Most will display a dark stripe down the amber hoof center.

Below: The fascinating Roans: (Lp and LP/LP gene. ie, homozygous and heterozygous types exist). There are three types of roan. First the leopard spotted roans below, born with sparse and feathered rump splashes, “as though they’ve stood under a bird’s nest for too long.” They evolve into something quite different. Rump splashes expand to most of the body, often devoloping  to look like leopards. If no record is available from birth to maturity, this type is easily mistaken for a true leopard, but the spots on a roan are feathery, not crisp edged and smaller by far than the true leopard’s spots. This type also exhibits striped hooves.


(Below) two good examples of spotted roans. The first 3 photos, same red colt at 10 days, then at 3 years, then at 5 years of age. Mane and tail changed white. Body now completely spotted. The end photos are of a week old filly, and again at 18 months of age. Hard to believe these 5 photos are of the same two horses. Sparse manes and tails are present, but others can also exhibit this feature. Nobody knows why. This gene does come from the swamps of Siberia where horses with bushy manes and tails would have been easy fodder for hungry men, and Tigers. The African Zebra with gelaroid manes and tails are able to escape predators more easily through thick underbrush. There is obviously an evolutionary reason for this condition. Those with sparse manes and tails probably survived to reproduce these gentics.

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Below are TheVarnish Roans: Many born solid in color, or with just a few white hairs on the rump. Others are born with feathery rump markings like the filly above but then they go through the “dirty white” color changes, and appear less exotic than their colorful cousins. Eventually they do sport white bodies with palm sized hip spots, and other discerning leg and head stripes. This type evolves from beautiful at birth, to “ugly ducklings,” and finally into beautiful “Swans.”


(Above)A perfect example of the Varnish Roan. First at 13 months, then as a mature mare with her roan foal she is going through the “dirty” patchy stage. Finally as a teenager she appears as almost white. Mane and tail are now completely blond.

Below: The Snowcap Roans A personal favorite of mine whose true ID is revealed only when their hooves are not striped, but solid amber in color and beneath dark leg markings. This is the only type where we find amber hooves beneath solid colored legs. This colt inherited a copy of the Sabino gene as well as two copies of the Lp gene. We know that because he has two white socks and facial markings of the Sabino gene. His body markings and remaining two amber hooves confirm his Snowcap Ghost Horse status.  Amber hooves are normally seen below white socks or stockings and unless other discerning markings are present, are not indicative of the Lp gene. Additional but unrelated white genes are often inherited in most Lp gene divisions. This is due to indiscriminate breeding or Feral horses having their own way. The Sabino gene is acceptable to us provided the Lp gene is present at the same time. We prefer to avoid the use of horses with any known Pinto or Splash genes which are responsible for very different markings, ones that do not blend well with the Lp gene. Splash = “bald faces” and blue eyes, or one blue eye and one brown. Pretty, but not for our breed as yet. The Pinto gene is the one with large oval or round shaped spots. We won’t go into all the nuances here.


 The Super Stars of the Tiger Horse breed are Snowcaps and Ghosts because they have inherited two copies of the Lp gene and give one to their foals even when bred to solid colored partners. In recent studies for The Appaloosa Horse Club’s members, it was determined that Snowcaps usually produce foals with visible coat patterns, more often than the Ghost Horses do whose foals often have to mature before displaying their copy of the Lp gene.

Now you know that the leopard category of horses exhibit spots of varying sizes that are crisp edged and the roans all have feathery edges to their markings.
The Leopard types are predictable “Leopard” producers, and while both types can produce both types of coat pattern, the Snowcaps with two copies of the Lp roan gene, will predictably produce roans of all kinds. The most spectacular examples and coat patterns come from using only one homozygous parent with a solid colored parent. Solid colored foals born from registered stock are welcome members of the herd because they help to keep good facial pigmentation in place.

Regarding How Gait Is Inherited: The two homozygous types mentioned on this page, differ radically from one another in the gait inheritence department. Visit the Gaited Genetics page to see what we have discovered, but don’t always know why.


This web site was created July 2012 by Victoria Varley.
All materials and photographs are the copyright of Victoria Varley, and may not be lifted without prior permission.