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Because the original article from 1942 is hard to come by, we will quote portions of the article by J.A. Lusis on "Striping Patterns in Domestic Horses," regarding the Brindling Pattern In Horses. This article by J.A. Lusis is the first record I can find of this pattern being referred to as "brindle" or "brindling." If anyone has come across any other literature that refers to striping in horses, or to a type of striping that may be brindle, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Lusis says, "In one of the exhibition rooms of the Museum of the Zoological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. in Leningrad there is a stuffed adult domestic horse with stripes, the pattern of which markedly differs from both the above-described types of striping in horses [he had previously described striping in: 1)European and 2)Mongolian horses] and, in general, does not fit into the scheme characteristic for the family Equidae. The skin from which this stuffed animal was prepared was purchased - while the horse was still alive - from its owner, a Leningrad cabman, and delivered by the latter to the Museum after the horse's death. Judging by the stuffed object, it was a large horse of the trotter type...

The basic color of the horse's coat is brown-shade of bay; the mane, tail, and lower legs are black. Toward the muzzle the coat is of a lighter shade, as is sometimes noted in bay horses, and the pastern of the left hind leg is white. The coat, however, is not solid brown (mahogany brown), but is made up of alternate stripes of brown and yellowish dun. These vertical stripes are found all over the body and also on both sides of the neck and extend down the legs almost to the knee and hock joints. In places where this striped pattern is most distinct the dark stripes seem double, while the yellow stripes between them vary in width. In the region of the chest, shoulders, and neck the dark stripes are somewhat crowded together, the stripes here being bent in the form of the integral sign or an elongated capital S, if one looks at the horse from the right side. On the croup and haunches the parallelism of the stripes is somewhat blurred, and the pattern acquires a more complex, spotted character. On the head there is no striping at all; also the black lower legs are solid-colored.

Particularly characteristic is the absence of a spinal stripe and of horizontal stripes on the legs, i.e., of those elements that in other types of striping, both in horses and in all other species of the family Equidae, are the most persistent. The occurance of stripes of the vertical system on the legs is also a most uncommon phenomenon among striped Equidae. Lastly, the character of the vertical stripes themselves, in the case of this animal, differ markedly from what we are accustomed to observe in the cases of zebras, striped zebra-horse and zebra-ass hybrids, and striped domestic horses of the two first described types.

The striping of the horse exhibited in the Zoological Museum of the Academy of Sciences very closely resembles the striping found in many breeds of cattle and in dogs and known as the "brindling pattern"...

Of examples of striped horses described in the literature the closest to this third type of striping [brindle] is the case of a striped colt of DARWIN's own breeding (see DARWIN,loc.cit.,p.72). From DARWIN's description, however, it seems that the pattern displayed by this colt had a number of striking similarities with zebroid striping (stripes on the face and legs). Hence, it should rather be classified as an atavistic form of striping of the type of European horses, although the coloring of its body closely resembles the striped pattern of the horse in the Zoological Museum. A similar case of marked juvenile striping has been described by EWART."


Update & Contact Information

Volume 1, number 2. Written information was last updated Feb 25, 1997. We will update the written information approximately once a month - however, because Brindle Horses are so rare, we may not be able to update the photos in the slideshow that often. The address of this web site is http://www.geocities.com/sbatteate - You may e-mail me at jsbatteate@aol.com


General Information

The first record of the Brindle Pattern in Horses seems to be by J.A. Lusis, in the publication Genetica vol.23, 1942. In the article on "Striping Patterns in Domestic Horses", he details a Russian cab horse from around the 1800's, that was preserved and put in the Zoological Museum of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., in Leningrad. I believe the horse is now in the Natural History Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. If anyone has connections to do research in Russia, we could use more detailed information on this horse, if it is available in their archives. The most recent book mentioning the Brindle Pattern, is Phil Sponenberg's new book on Equine Color Genetics, 1996, Iowa State University Press, Ames, Iowa, 50014. Another good book on genetics, is Ann Bowling's new book Horse Genetics, 1996, CAB International, available thru Oxford University Press, 2001 Evans Rd, Cary, North Carolina, 27513.

Brindle has occurred in such diverse breeds as Arabians, Thoroughbreds, Mustangs, Quarter Horses, Bavarian Warmbloods, Russian Horses, Spanish Horses, and supposedly also in the Netherlands. Sometimes the pattern seems to be composed of dark hair (black or brown), sometimes of white hair (roan). Since so little information is available on the Brindle pattern in horses, we are not sure if they are from the same gene or not. There could be several genes involved, producing similar patterns ( much as pinto/paint spotting can result from several different genes). Many people confuse Dun Factor markings (stripe down the back, barring on the legs) with brindle. Indeed, there have been many examples of horses that were probably carrying both genes. However, the Russian cab horse, and Brindle mare in the photo you can click to see below, do not have any Dun Factor markings whatsoever. Brindle horses also have texturing in their coat, similar to that seen in some Appaloosa horses. The pattern seems to be inheritable, especially in terms of coat texturing, but the extent of striping is highly variable. However, before we start drawing too many conclusions about the pattern, we need to locate more examples for a study.