Colors & Markings


Bay horses have a body color coat that ranges from light-to-dark reddish-brown hues, and are distinguished by their black mane and tail, legs and ears rims.


The Black horse’s entire body color is black. The black foal may be an overall mousy grey at birth, but will be black (unless diluted) when it sheds its foal coat.


Chestnuts vary in shade from a light golden red to a dark reddish brown. Quite often, the mane and tail will be the same color as the body coat but they can also have a flaxen mane and tail. Sorrels are called “light chestnuts” in some of the other breeds, but genetically chestnuts and sorrels are the same.


White horses are extremely rare and are born pure white and have dark eyes and pink skin with no freckles or spots on skin or hair.  

Coat Color Codes:

AC-Amber Cream Champagne
AM-Amber Champagne
BR-Black Roan

CC-Classic Cream Champagne
CL-Classic Champagne
GC-Gold Cream Champagne
GO-Gold Champagne

HR-Chestnut Roan
RR-Grey Roan
SB-Smoky Black
SC-Smoky Cream



Overo coat patterns occur on any color background and the white areas on overos are usually crisply and cleanly delineated from the colored areas, although some have a halo or shadow of pigmented skin under white hair directly at the boundary. White spotting of the overo horse usually comes up from the belly in a horizontal arrangement and does not cross the topline. The overo horse may have solid-colored legs with normal white markings and the tail is one color. It may be bald-faced, covering both eyes, or apron-faced with white markings extending beyond the ears and under the chin. … Continued


The Sabino pattern usually has white that extends up the legs in ragged patches, and then extends onto the horse’s body from the belly. The head is usually excessively white with white extending under the chin and under the jaws and the eyes are commonly blue although many sabino horses have partially blue, partially brown eyes. Flecks, patches and roan areas are common on sabinos. Some sabinos will also have odd white patches on the knee or hock, removed from the main portion of the lower white leg markings. In the middle range of expression, sabino horses are fairly distinctive … Continued


A Tobiano can be any solid-colored horse with legs that are usually white and white spots that are arranged vertically with body spotting that is regular, round or oval, and extends down the neck and chest with a shield appearance. They usually have dark areas on one or both flanks and the tail may have two colors. The white usually crosses the top-line somewhere between the ears and tail. The head has no more white than expected on a non-spotted horse. The eyes of tobianos are usually dark. Tobiano horses can vary from quite dark, with small amounts of white, … Continued


The combination of the Tobiano and Sabino patterns is a common occurrence in the Tennessee Walking Horse. The Tobiano/Sabino shows characteristics of both the tobiano and sabino patterns. The main identifying characteristic is the appearance of excessive white on the face, under the chin and under the jaw. Blue eyes or blue spots in the eyes indicate the presence of the Sabino gene. The spotting pattern is a combination of the two patterns with the white crossing over the top line.  


A Tovero can have dark pigmentation around the ears, which may extend to cover the forehead and/or eyes. One or both eyes are blue. Most Tovero horses have dark pigmentation around the mouth, which may extend up the sides of the face and form spots. Chest spots vary in size and may extend up the neck, flank spots range in size. They are often accompanied by smaller spots that extend forward across the barrel and up over the loin. Spots can vary in size at the base of the tail.

Color Pattern Codes:

MS-Maximum White Sabino



The Dun gene is a dilution gene that can lighten any body coat color in varying degrees. The dun must prominently display a dark dorsal stripe and zebra stripes on the shoulders and horizontal stripes on the legs. At least one parent must be a dun.


The Silver gene is a dilution gene that affects only black pigment of the mane and tail and dilutes black body color only slightly. The mane and tail are lightened to a silvery or blonde shade, and the eyes can range from hazel to dark brown. The Silver gene is only expressed on black and must have a parent with the silver gene. Bay Silver horses appear to be chestnuts with flaxen or silver manes but genetically are bay horses. The combination of base coat color and the term “silver” is required to describe a horse with a silver gene … Continued

Dilution Codes:




Grey is a color modifier and no horse is born grey. Grey begins to modify the birth coat color sometimes months or even years later. They will begin showing signs of grey around the eyes, flank and below the elbow. Grey patches occasionally will develop on the body, croup, or thigh before they are visible around the eyes. Grey is progressive and aging causes the coat colors of grey horses to progressively lighten to almost white. Dappling is common and often, older grey horses show speckles of their original coat color hair and are called “flea-bitten.” A grey horse must … Continued


Roan is not a color. It modifies any coat color with a mixture of white hairs, intermingled from birth with the darker hairs of the coat color leaving the base color on face, mane, tail and lower legs. Use the combination of base coat color, such as “black,” and the term “roan” to describe a “black roan.” The true Roan pattern isn’t always apparent until it sheds its foal coat to the color that it will be throughout the horse’s life. At least one parent must be a roan.

Modifier Codes:



Coat Colors of Tennessee Walking Horses – TWHBEA recognizes and records many coat colors and since most Tennessee Walking Horses are registered as foals between the ages of three to six months, it is sometimes difficult to determine the true color of the foal.

Genetic Color Chart