This is a repeat with some updating and additional photos of an article originally posted April 10, 2011

Lace blanketNot all horses with white markings produced by the Leopard gene are leopards. The white markings are generally symmetrical and present at birth, but they vary a great deal from horse to horse and may even be absent entirely. The minimal expression is white over the top of the rump, and the broad term for the pattern is blanket. Note that I am speaking only of white produced by the leopard gene. Leg and face white are generally independent of the leopard gene.

Edges of the white blanket may be crisp, flecked or roaned.

Appaloosaa horseSponenberger divides the white patterns by percent of white at birth. The modification I am using in Tourist Trap is:

10% or less white spots over hips
10% to 20% lace blanket
20% to 40% hip blanket
40% to 60% body blanket
60% to 80% near leopard
90% to 100% leopard

Note that “leopard” in this table includes both leopard and few-spot leopard, and that the size of the blanket has nothing to do with whether spots are present. If one copy of the leopard allele and one of the wild-type allele are present, whatever white areas are on the horse will normally have spots of the base color. If two copies of the leopard allele are present, the white markings will have few or no spots, and the pattern is often called snowcap or few-spot.

Lace blanketThe Pattern-1 gene is heavily implicated in the amount of white, but it is almost certainly not the only modifier.

Spots will normally be of the base color, but may show a concentration or dilution of color. Thus they may appear darker or lighter than the base color. The horse on the book cover on the right sidebar shows spots on the neck, suggesting that at least some of the spots are darker than the body color. (That horse, by the way, is a stand-in for Raindrop’s granddaughter.)

The description of Roi’s horse, Raindrop, in Tourist Trap is that of a body-blanketed grulla approaching a near-leopard. She has white coronets and spots significantly darker than most of her body, which is already dark and somewhat bluish for a grulla. Roi’s first sight of her gives the following description:

Grulla appaloosa foal

If this foal’s blanket enlarges with maturity, she could grow up looking like Raindrop. Photo credit Gail Lord.

“One of the two led horses had a black-spotted white body, but its neck, legs and chest were a dark mouse gray, set off by a black head and mane and a black and white tail.” Raindrop is later referred to as having a sparse mane (black) and being the color of polished slate. The dark dorsal stripe typical of duns would have been in the white-blanketed area, and hence invisible.

Genetically, she would have had two recessive black alleles at the Agouti locus, at least one wild-type allele at the Extension locus, at least one dun allele at the Dun locus, and one leopard and one wild-type allele at the TRPM1 locus.

Next week I’ll talk about the roan, flecked and snowflake patterns produced by the Leopard gene. Again, these patterns are often called Appaloosa in the United States, but they occur in horses worldwide.