Last night I was in the car with Hubby and I expressed my desire to talk about something ‘black’ in honor of Black Friday.
I said that I always love to chatter about genetics and how that effects coat color… but that I felt most people already knew all of that stuff. For example, that black and red are the same master gene – and Hubby stopped me.
He said, “What do you mean?”
Me: “Well, that’s why Irish people have mostly red or black hair.”
Me: “Genetically, Black is the parent gene to red. You have to have black to get red.”
Hubby: “Really? Like the Kurds? I noticed when I was over there that they all have either black or red hair.”
Hubby: “Well, I think that is interesting. Why don’t you write about that.”
So I did. (Well, actually, I just researched and cut and pasted… and wrote a little…)
THE BLACK COLOR GENE IN HORSES
Do you remember doing a genetics eye color chart in High School biology class? I do. I loved it!
That chart stayed with me in my mind while I was a Morgan breeder… I knew there were so many variables to coat color – like eye color in humans – and I also knew that Chestnut was the least favored Morgan color (at that time). I wanted to steer clear of Chestnut if I could.
The first stallion I bred to my mare (Tess – bay) was a black. Gorgeous black. But, I knew that I didn’t have any idea if he was EE or Ee. So, at that time, it was a roll of the dice to figure out what color the foal might become. Black does produce red (Chestnut in the Morgan world). I was tempting fate by choosing a black stallion.
Tess was bay and I could follow her color lineage more closely via her papers. She had lots of Chestnut in her pedigree… but Chestnut is recessive to black. The stallion that I had chosen had a black sire and chestnut dam. His papers showed many browns, chestnuts and bays. In fact, there were no other blacks in his pedigree until you went back several generations.
Yet, he was black… This fascinated me.
So, this foal, Gwen, who was the product of a black sire and a bay dam with lots if iterations in the woodpile, would be a surprise.
Gwen, turned up seal brown – just like many of her relatives on her sire side.
Actually, when she was born, she looked to be a bay until her baby coat shed. Silly me, I was so anxious to get her registered that I did it before her true coat came through. So, Gwen is registered bay when she has never had a bay day in her entire adult life. Oh well…
Anyway, now one can almost predict the potential color of the foal if you have the sire tested with available robust color mapping tests. Studs should already have this available – if they are in a color popular breed.
But for me, the variables are what I find so interesting. If any part of the genetic color code is recessive, all sorts of variations can happen.
Except, that is, for true black. True black, EE, can never be diluted.
I have cut and pasted the below article from three different sites – because they said it so well, I didn’t think I could rewrite it any better. So, here you go!
(I found this from Abmor Acres Farm, 377 Chesbro Road Pennellville, NY 13132, firstname.lastname@example.org / (315) 668-9360)
OK, A LITTLE MORE IN-DEPTH
(This is from UC Davis)
HOW BLACK CAN EXPRESS ITSELF
EXPLAINED AGAIN VIA THE AQHA WEBSITE…
I LOVE COLOR MAPPING!!
Thanks for exploring this with me on Black Friday…
I write write more about horse colors in a later post. Coat color expression really interests me!
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