Brindle Horses
(Donkeys and Mules too!)

Early References to the Brindle Pattern

Picture of a Criollo and a Brindle Horse

Emilio Solanet published an article in 1930 in the Journal of Heredity 21:451 about "the Criollo horse of South America". He also lectured and wrote books and articles in the 1940's, and published a book called Pelajes Criollos in 1955, about colors of Criollo horses in Argentina. Above on the left is a picture from page 51, of the "gateado barcino" color. The book is written in Spanish. Mrs Pilar Massaguer of Spain contacted me in 1994 regarding an article she was doing. She asked for a picture of my mare Brenda Batty Atty (picture below), as an example of the "gateado barcino" color for her article. In September 1977 she most kindly furnished me with a complete translation of Pelajes Criollos. Following are portions of her translation. On page 49 Solanet says, "Finally, I have seen in Argentina, two duns ("gateados") with their body completely covered by zebra stripes, so to say, besides the normal "dun factor" characteristics, they have vertical stripes all over their body. Our cowboys call them "gateado barcino" (striped dun) and correspond to the term "barcino" noted by M.V. Pereyra (Buenos Aires 1877, "dark yellow coat with dorsal stripe, with body full of vertical stripes. Very rare"). In my opinion, they constitute duns with maximum dun factor since they have zebra stripes all over their bodies like the common red cat of our country." Furthermore, on page 53 he says, "We will finally mention the striped dun or tigered buckskin (gateado barcino or bayo atigrado) of some Spanish authors ... it is characterized by having stripes all over the body, from top to bottom over neck and body, and transversal on the legs. It constitutes the dun (gateado) with maximum dun factor (acebrado). It is absolutely very rare, I have seen it only in two specimens." On page 115, he discusses "atrigrado" or "barcino" as "It is the horse with stripes like tiger skin ..... Horse coat characterized by having elongated and dark stripes over the whole body of the animal, similar to the leopard's or panthera's." On page 116, he makes a brief mention of "chorreado" as looking "like if a liquid had been poured over him. It can happen in a part or the whole body. It is not the same as the "atigrado" since the latter has the stripes similar to the tiger's." Solanet seems to make a clear distinction between the two different types of striping ("chorreado" and "barcino"), but he has no illustration in his book of what he is calling "chorreado", only of the "gateado barcino" on page 51. His description of "chorreado" is similar to the way I have often heard people describe brindles they have seen.

J.A. Lusis wrote an article called "Striping Patterns in Domestic Horses" that was published in Genetica vol.23, 1942. He details a Russian cab horse from around the 1800's, that was preserved and put in the Zoological Museum in Leningrad (picture above on the right), by saying "there occurs in very rare cases, striping of a brindling pattern..." In this article, he gives a detailed description of the Russian horse, including "The coat, however, is not solid brown (mahogany brown), but is made up of alternate stripes of brown and yellowish dun... Particularly characteristic is the absence of a spinal stripe and of horizontal stripes on the legs..." He says "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 our 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 classed as an atavistic form of striping of the type of European horses (dun factor type of striping), 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." (More simply put, it appears that Darwin's colt had what we now call dun factor markings, plus a brindle looking pattern on the body. However, Lusis says he would classify him with the dun factor type, probably making him the equivalent of what Solanet would call a "gateado barcino").

Odriozola (author of A Los Colores Del Caballo in 1951) said about the "dun" color, that "In Argentina, this color group is called "gateado", reserving the word "gateado barcino" for the horses very highly dun factor marked. Solanet says to have seen - only in two cases - slightly sinuous and interrupted markings all over the body of the horse." He also reported "Marrero (1945) said that circa 1860 it was not difficult to see with relative frequency not only the "gateado" color (ordinary dun factor) but its variety "bragada" - (more highly marked than the ordinary duns), only inferior to the "gateado barcino." Odriozola also said in his book on page 38, "If dun factor markings represent markings constituted by hairs darker than the color of the background, then the opposite happens in the little markings of "safran" color, so to say "lighter markings", that Lady Wentworth (1945) said to have seen in a bay mare, that she said would correspond to the color called "amik" by the Arabs. Perhaps this strange/rare coloration is related to the bay brindle of dark red and yellowish tones, that is preserved and stuffed in the Science Academy Museum of Leningrad ..." Included in his book between pages 338 and 339 is a photo of the same stuffed museum-horse (above right), but with the following caption in Spanish: "Ejemplar ruso conservado en el Museo Zoologico de la Academia de Ciencias, Pelajo chorreado". He also makes reference to "chorreado" as the type of coat seen in dogs and cattle. Thus, "chorreado" is equivalent to what Lusis was calling "brindle".

J.K. Wiersema in his 1977 Dutch book on horse color Het Paard in Zijn Kleurenrijkdom, on page 156-157 reportedly says "An even further developed pattern of striping can be found among the South American breed of Criollo-horses of the so called "gateado" type of colour. Of these "gateado" type horses some, most clearly of the so called "gateado barcino" sub-type, show the full pattern of stripes as found on zebras but with a wild colour (dun) as groundcolour; which means both body and legs are extensively striped in zebra-fashion; maybe a bit less complete as a real zebra, but more like "streaming" or the "brindling" colour found in some cats, dogs, and also crossbred British cattle.... In the Spanish book "A Los Colores del Caballo" of the researcher-writer M. Odriozola can be found a photograph between page 338 and page 339 of a like "brindled" coloured horse from Russia." Since Wiersema refers to it as a like "brindled" coloured horse, and describes "gateado barcino" as "more like the streaming or brindling color..." he must have thought "gateado barcino" resembled "brindle", and indeed, in the illustration shown at the top of the page for the "gateado barcino", the sinuous striping on the barrel is very reminescent ot the striping seen on the Russian horse (although not as heavy, since it has probably been partially restricted by the dilution gene.

Picture of Pocos Scooter Bar and Brenda Batty Atty

The International Buckskin Horse Association information booklet (originally copyrighted in 1977), probably picked up the link Wiersema saw between "gateado barcino" (striped dun with maximum dun factor) and "brindle" and came up with the classification it called "brindle dun" to describe horses with striping all over the body. The booklet says "BRINDLE DUN: A different and unique body coloration with stripes appearing over the barrel of the body and most, if not all, the dun factor characteristics. Brindle duns show up in the Netherlands and is referred to as an ancient dun color. The peculiar body markings can appear in the form of tear drops or zebra stripes". Examples of horses registered as "brindle dun" with the IBHA are Pocos Scooter Bar (above left) and Brenda BattyAtty (above right). Pocos Scooter Bar has both dun factor markings and body striping, and is an example of what Lusis was probably describing in the case of Darwin's colt, and what Wiersema and possibly also Solanet, would probably have called "gateado barcino". Brenda Batty Atty only has body striping, and is an example of what Lusis would have called "brindle", and what Solanet and Odriozola probably would have called "chorreado". However, with IBHA, both types of striping have now been given one term - brindle dun, which has now existed for approximately 20 years, as the description of a horse with striping all over the body. However, by going back and looking at the earliest reports of what is currently called the "brindle dun" color by the IBHA, one can see that while "brindle" has often been associated with "dun" since the first reports of this rare and unusual color, it may turn out there are actually two separate components.

Pictures of heavily marked duns and brindle duns

Personal Commentary: By going back and looking at the earliest reports of the "brindle dun" color, one can see how "brindle duns" could have resulted from several causes. As noted previously, there is a wide variation in expression of dun factor markings, and some horses considered to be "brindle duns" could be the (1) maximum expression of dun factor markings, as Solanet felt was happening in the case of "gateado barcino" horses. The "very highly marked" dun factor horses could also have resulted from a combination of (2)"brindle" and "dun factor," such as seen in the photos above, and of which Pocos Scooter Bar is an example. Finally, some of the "brindle duns" are like the Russian horse and Brenda Batty Atty, which are examples of the (3)"brindle" pattern without any accompanying dun factor markings whatsoever. Thus, it now appears, that "brindle dun" is actually composed of two components - "brindle" and "dun", and the combination of both factors is what produces the classic "brindle dun" horse. However, because a "heavily marked dun factor" horse would phenotypically resemble a "brindle + dun" horse, it will probably always be difficult to distinguish between the two.

I am interested in locating other past references to the "brindle", "brindle dun", "gateado barcino", or "chorreado" color. If you know of any, please contact me.

Update & Contact Information

Volume 2, number 3. Written information was last updated © April 1, 1998. 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. When returning to this site, remember to select the refresh or reload icon from your internet explorer tool bar at the top of the screen, so your screen will reload the latest information. The address of this web site is

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You may also contact me: (209) 477-1536, J. Sharon Batteate, PO Box 8535, Stockton, CA 95208 USA
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