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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.

Silver Mini photo
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. Ivan is half brother to Frenchie (center from sire - silver buckskin) and Ray (from the dam - black mare).

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.

Las Doradas Lalique
Lalique silver bay pinto with her silver foal. Note the darking above the white on her legs and extreme flaxen mane and tail. Lalique is registered as a sorrel pinto.

Unfortunately in Miniature Horses incorrect colors are often applied and the two major registries, AMHA & AMHR do not adequately address this color andwhich 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.



Silver Dapple Dilution Gene website

Horse Genetics website

Color testing can be performed through Animal Genetics, UC Davis, Veterinary Genetic Services and a few others. The price is $25+/- and is done with pulled mane or tail hair.


Equine Color Genetics - D. Philip Sponenberg, DMV, PhD

Horse Color Explained - Jeanette Gower

Horse Genetics - Ann Bowling

Horse Color - D. Philip Sponenberg, DMV, PhD & Bonnie Beaver

Paloma summer and winter.
Las Doradas Paloma
Las Doradas Paloma

Wesco Farms While U Were Sleeping. Silver on roan. Sire is in the middle to the left out of a bay roan mare. Weanling and adult photos.
Wesco Farms While U Were Sleeping FF
Wesco Farms While U Were Sleeping FF

Wesco Farms Florizel, foal and adult photo. Foals are often very 'taffy' colored. We refer to them as the peach babies. Florizel is owned by Shalamar Acres.
Wesco Farms Florizel
Wesco Farms Florizel

Wesco Farms Bucks Cosmonaut ET. Half brother to two of the horses in the upper middle photo. He is registered as solid buckskin. Summer and winter.
Wesco Farms Bucks Cosmonaut ET
Wesco Farms Bucks Cosmonaut ET