This time I’m discussing a pair of markings that may or may not be genetic: manchado and brindle. Sorry, I don’t have any photos, but scroll down the White Horse page and look at Figure 8-120 in Sponenberg.

Manchado is in the pinto group if it is genetic, but it has hardly been investigated at all. Sponenberg says it is primarily found in Argentina, but it is found there in several breeds. This is taken by some as indicating an environmental cause, and by others as indicating that Argentineans pay more attention to horse color than do people in other parts of the world.

There is no question that manchado is different from other spotting genes. At first glance, it is a combination of pinto and leopard (Appaloosa) traits, but manchado horses do not have known leopard or pinto genes. The minimal expression is white on the top of the neck, giving a partially white mane. The head and legs normally remain dark. The white areas are crisp-edged, but these white areas normally have round or oval colored spots within them.

There are a few photos on the web, most notably one showing a Throughbred stallion and an Arabian mare, both breeds which are rarely spotted. Sponenberg shows a photo of a Welsh Pony with the Manchado pattern, but does not state whether is particular individual was from Argentina.

Brindle is a little better understood, but not by much. There are three types of bindles, one involving black stripes, one involving white stripes, and one in which the horse is actually a chimera. In the first two cases, much more common genetic mechanisms appear to be necessary.

For black stripes, the horse must have black interspersed hairs, a condition called sooty by geneticists. In most horses, the interspersed hairs are uniformly mixed into the coat or more numerous toward the back of the horse. In a few horses, the black hairs are organized into vertical stripes.

If white hairs are present, as in roans, they may also occasionally be organized into vertical stripes. This is also referred to as brindle, though it is not known whether this type of brindle has any relationship to the type with black stripes.

Finally, it is possible that two fertilized eggs are merged in early gestation. The chimera that results actually has tissues with two different DNA sets, and these tend to be arranged in vertical stripes. A brindle of this type could actually combine any two colors found in horses.

A website from White Horse Productions has excellent photos of these and other rare modifiers in horses. Scroll through the entire page.

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