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The silver, silver dapple, taffy Z gene

Variations on the Silver gene located at the Z locus result in silver dapple, silver bay, silver dun, silver black (Icelandics), silver buckskin, silver sorrel (a hotly debated color issue in Minis!), silver pintos, silver appaloosas ... the list goes on.

The Z gene dilutes the black pigmentation of the body and point color as well as 'silvering' (flaxen or grey generally) of the mane and tail.

Three Minis with the Silver Gene.
(left to right) Wesco Farms Rayo del Sol, registered as sorrel (silver bay). Wesco Farms Frangelico Flashback registered palomino (silver palomino). Wesco Farms Rohans Echo ET registered solid dun. Rohan is half brother Ray (from the dam - black mare).
Silver Mini photo

Wesco Farms Bucks Cosmonaut ET is half brother to two of the horses (left and right) in the photo above. He is registered as solid buckskin.

Summer and winter photos of Ivan
Wesco Farms Bucks Cosmonaut ETWesco Farms Bucks Cosmonaut ET

Silver horses are called taffy in Australia and is a bit broader than silver dapple, which technically requires dapples, right? Silver is recognized in a number of horse breeds from Appaloosa, to Icelandic to Missouri Fox Trotter, with approximately 15+ breeds having the Silver Gene present.

Unfortunately in Miniature Horses incorrect colors are often applied and the two major registries, AMHA & AMHR do not adequately address this color, which often results in Minis misregistered as sorrels, grays, etc.

This leads to a number of complications especially for a breeder.

Many people have purchase that gorgeous palomino only to find out it was influencd by the silver gene and will not properly throw the dilute color for palominos and cremello.

So, care must be given if a breeding program is using color as one of its criterias for their breeding stock (assuming conformation, balance, attitude are all good!), then careful consideration to the horse, its pedigree and progency must be researched for the silver gene.

For those that love the silvers - it is a wonderful and surprising influence in which the same mare and stallion can produce wildly different colored foals from year to year.

Chocolatico, deceased. Registered as Solid Brown.

Paloma summer and winter.
Las Doradas PalomaLas Doradas Paloma



Color testing can be performed through Animal Genetics, UC Davis, Veterinary Genetic Services and a few others. The price varies depending on the test. A full panel can run $100, individuals $25-40-60 depending on which color/coat pattern being tested. Tests use pulled mane or tail hair and take usually a few days to a week.

Color Coat Calculator at Animal Genetics Lab.

Horse Coat Color Table at UC Davis


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