Cress Farm

We breed, show and sale registered miniature horses and are beginning a new breeding program of Teddy Roosevelt Terriers (TRT)

Horse Height, Coat Colors and Patterns


 Go to the link below and there is a grid to help predict

the height of your miniature horse from birth to



 On the rest of this page we will show you how to measure a horse by hands.

  One hand equals 4 inches and you measure from the ground (flat) to the tod of the horses withers.

  Below you will see a couple of photos that were taken in the summer of 2007 at the Kentucky Horse Park.  Sawyer and Regan will try and show how to determine horse measurment in hands.

  Sawyer is 4 ft 2 inch = 50 inches = 12.2 hands

  Regan is 3 ft 1 inch = 37 inches = 9.1 hands


  Regan and Sawyer on a ride at the Kentucky Horse Park - summer 2007








Expert Articles


Roca Rosa LogoEquine Coat Colors©

Audio MiniCast

I've been seeing some confusion lately regarding equine coat colors. In this article, I shall attempt to clear up some of that confusion. Keep in mind that any of these colors can have white markings, and that pintos and appaloosa come in these colors, as well.

Black: This should be obvious, but often is not. A black horse should be black all over, excluding any areas of white markings. Some blacks are blue-black and some are "fading blacks" --- these are true blacks that fade in the sun to a sort of very dark brownish black.

Brown: Brown horses are "almost black." They are usually black all over except for their muzzles, flanks, and sometimes behind their elbows, which are brown colored. "Browns" are very, very dark bays.

Bay: These are red or brown colored horses, varying in shade from very dark to sandy, but all have black "points" --- black mane, tail, and lower legs. Sometimes, a bay and white pinto which has completely white legs can only be distinguished as "bay" by a small section of his mane or tail that is black instead of white (from his pinto markings.)

Sorrel or Chestnut: These terms are almost synonymous in meaning --- in America, at least. They refer to a red colored horse, usually with red or sometimes flaxen mane and tail. The shade can vary from deep, rich chocolate to bright red to golden red, with many shades in between. They do not have black manes and tails or black lower legs, although sometimes the mane and tail are a darker red than the body.

Liver Chestnut: The true liver chestnut is like a chocolate Labrador Retriever. It is a very dark chocolate. Often, liver chestnuts look black from a distance. Look around their eyes --- usually their true color is revealed there as the coat color is distinctly dark red. Mane and tail can be the same color or flaxen.

Silver Dapple: Miniature Horses and Shetland Ponies are nearly the only equines who come in this color. It is sometimes a dark, dappled gray color with a white mane and tail. It can be a grayish tan, with or without dapples, with a white mane and tail. It is not to be confused with gray --- discussed below --- because it does not lighten with age.

Gray: True gray (some Miniature Horse people call it "Arabian Gray," which is just silly because it exists in most equine breeds.) is very different from silver dapple. True grays are born another color (bay, black, sorrel, etc.) and only show themselves to be grays when they shed their baby coat. Grays lighten with age. By the time a gray is in it's teens, and sometimes much earlier, it is white or "flea bitten," which is white with dark dots like flea specks. Usually, the way to tell a gray from a silver dapple is that a gray is lighter on the face than on the body, while silver dapples usually have darker faces.

Roan: A roan is a black or bay or chestnut (or any other color) horse with white hairs sprinkled through its coat. The true roan is lighter over its hips and back, darker the further forward and downward you look, with its head and legs the darkest yet. Blue roans are black or brown roans, red roans are bay or sorrel roans, etc. The "roaning gene" is different --- it can cause a light sprinkling, more or less evenly, throughout the horse's coat. Usually, "roaning" is hard to see unless you're close to the animal --- "roan" is easy to spot from a distance.

The Dilute Colors:
(Dilutes are bays and sorrels that carry either a palomino gene or a dun gene)

Palomino: Palomino is a diluted sorrel or chestnut. It is some shade of yellow or yellow gold, with a flaxen or white mane and tail.

Cremello: Cremello is a doubly diluted sorrel or chestnut. It appears pale cream to nearly white, with a white or cream mane and tail. Cremellos always have pinkish skin and blue eyes.

Buckskin: Buckskin is a diluted bay. They have golden or yellow bodies with black points.

Perlino: Perlino is a doubly diluted bay. They appear basically the same color as a cremello, except that their mane and tail (and sometimes lower legs) are slightly darker than their bodies. They have pinkish skin and blue eyes.

Dun: Duns are diluted by the dun gene. They come in a variety of shades, but all have legs, manes and tails that are darker (even if only slightly) than their body color. They should have a dorsal stripe, as well, running from withers to tail. Some even have "zebra stripes" on their forearms and gaskins.

Red Duns: A light reddish, "flesh" tone (remember your crayon colors?) horse with darker red legs, mane and tail and dorsal stripe.

Grulla: A black or brown diluted with the dun gene. They appear to be a silvery black or dark gray bay. Always have black legs, mane and tail, and dorsal stripe. Sometimes "zebra stripes" as well.

Silver Dapple dilutions:
These horses carry the silver dapple gene and it alters their color in some way. All silver dapple dilutions have lighter manes and tails.

Silver (or Silver Dapple) Bay: Most of the flaxen maned "sorrel" Miniature Horses are silver bays. They have a red or sorrel body color, with white or flaxen or "silvery" manes and tails, usually with smoky or chocolate lower legs.

Silver Chestnut: These can look like palominos, but will usually give their "silver dapple" gene away by having darker lower legs.

Silver Palomino: I owned one of these. She looked like a cremello at first glance --- pale cream with a nearly white mane and tail. But a silver palomino has dark or grayish skin, not pink like a cremello.

Silver Dun: A pale dun colored horse, with darker lower legs and white or flaxen or silver mane and tail.

Other Silver dilutions: These paler shades get hard to distinguish. But remember, if it looks like a dun but has a flaxen or white or silver mane and tail, then it carries a silver dapple gene.

I hope this has helped. If you own one of these colors and want to know something about the genetics involved (or have any other questions), please feel free to contact me at the address below. I'll certainly try to help.

Pat Elder
Rosa Roca's Miniature Horses
11850 SE 159th St
Moore, OK 73165


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Expert Articles




It can be difficult for the amateur --- and sometimes even for the professional horse breeder --- to distinguish between the two different color patterns in pinto or paint horses. To try to simplify things, I have created the following images and descriptions, based on my years of study and research into equine color genetics. I hope it is helpful in clearing up some of the confusion.

Knowing the parents of a particular horse may help you decide which color pattern it is, because tobiano and each of the three patterns of overo are produced by entirely different genes. An overo cannot produce a tobiano unless bred to one, and under normal circumstances, a tobiano cannot produce an overo. The exception to this is the tovero, a horse that carries both overo and tobiano genes, but these are usually recognizable as such. A few examples will be shown below. In the rare event of an apparent overo out of tobiano parents, a HIDDEN overo gene would have to be the culprit. This is how crop-out overos (overo pintos produced from two apparently non-pinto parents) occur, but they are uncommon. Exactly how this happens is still a mystery to geneticists. Suffice it to say that if a pinto horse has one or both tobiano parents, it is overwhelmingly likely to be a tobiano, too. If neither parent is a tobiano, a paint or pinto can be assumed to be an overo. (See *Note below.)

Now for the descriptions:


Tobiano is the most common color pattern in pinto or paint horses, especially in miniatures. It can best be described as having white markings that usually seem to come from the top of the horse and run down toward his hooves. Notice, I said "usually." You will see that word over and over again in this article, because there are very few hard and fast rules in pinto color genetics, and virtually none in the patterns themselves. Exceptions will always occur, and are often rather frequent.

Tobianos usually have white legs and a solid or "normally" marked head. That is to say, they usually have the face markings (or lack thereof) of a solid colored horse; i.e. a star, strip, blaze, etc. Usually they do not have bald or apron faces.

A common misconception is that if the white markings cross the center of the back, between the withers and the tail, then it is a tobiano, if not, it's an overo. This is simply not true. Many minimally marked tobianos do not have white that crosses the back, and many overos (especially splashed white overos) do. Tobianos frequently have their darker color in specific areas: a predominantly dark head, a "chest shield," a "flank shield," and color around the tail head. Usually, the line between color and white is crisp and well defined. Many have two-tone tails, part white, part colored.

The following drawings represent some of the possible tobiano color patterns, but by no means are intended to represent all of them. Keep in mind that these drawings are in black and white, while tobianos or overos can and do occur in any and all color combinations.

Horse #1 has only a tiny white spot in her mane, but she is nevertheless a tobiano. Horses #6 & 7 both are homozygous tobianos, showing the "paw prints" (small, irregular dark spots within their white areas) that these often display. The tiny dark dots on horse #5 are just that --- dots. Only one of her parents was tobiano, so she cannot be homozygous.


Overo is generally the less common color pattern in horses. There are three distinct types of overo, each produced by a different set of genes. The most common is the frame overo. You will see examples below. And, no, "frame" does not mean a mostly white horse that is "framed" in color only along his topline, chest, and head as some seem to believe. As you will see below, a frame overo can be anything from mostly colored with a tiny belly spot to mostly white. A beautiful pattern, that unfortunately often carries the "lethal white" gene. (See **Note below.)

The best way to describe the frame overo is that usually (there's that word again!) the white markings seem to come up from under the belly, as if the horse were rolled over and the white paint poured on. Often times, the white is ragged or splotchy. In frames, it is rare for the white to cross the top line between withers and tail, but it occasionally can in horses with a large amount of white. And white that crosses the back line does not, in any way, keep the horse from being a frame overo. Remember: frame is a distinctive gene, not just the way the white is laid on the horse.

Probably 75% of all frames have bald or apron faces. Most have colored legs, or at least one colored leg (but again, some have all white legs), and most have a dark colored tail. Many have blue eyes, but so do many tobianos (and many of our non-pinto miniatures!), so eye color can't really be a factor in determining color pattern.

The second overo color pattern is the sabino overo. Less understood, perhaps, than frame overo, it is the color pattern you see in "roan" or "pinto" Clydesdales and Tennessee Walkers. Usually (tired of that word yet?) sabinos have high white stockings that streak upwards, especially on the stifle, and the white "sprinkles" up onto the body, usually in a roan-like pattern. Again, they range the whole gambit from mostly dark to mostly white. Sabino horses can even be totally white, especially if both parents are sabinos.

Most sabinos have a wide blaze, some have bald faces, but most do not have the completely white head of the splashed whites. Often times, sabinos have dark eyes.

The third and least studied pattern is the splashed white overo. Considered rare in full sized horses (at least in America) but not uncommon in miniatures, the splashed white overo differs from the others mainly because of the crisp line between white and color and the tendency of the white to cross the back line. Most of them look as if they have been dipped or rolled in white from the hooves up. Many splashed whites have apron faces or completely white heads, often with a "bonnet" or "medicine hat" over their ears. Splashed whites frequently have all-white or half-white tails. They almost always have one or two blue eyes. Some very odd patterns can be seen in splashed white overos.

See below for examples of all of these color patterns. Note that in some cases it is impossible to tell exactly which of the overo color patterns a horse carries. To confuse matters further, it is entirely possible for a horse to carry the genes for more than one overo pattern. For example, a horse could be a sabino/frame. All of these illustrations are taken from actual horses. I'm not making this stuff up, folks!


These horses are all frame overos.

Horse #1 is a crop-out --- a pinto out of 2 non-pinto parents. Since it has no tobiano parent, it must be an overo despite the solid colored head. Both #3 & #5 display some sabino overo characteristics, and may carry that gene as well.


These horses are sabino overos.


Horse #3 is almost all white. His pinto markings show up only as a light roaning, but become very obvious when he is wet. Horse #1 displays the sabino pattern so typical of many Clydesdales, Tennessee Walkers, and Paso Finos.

These are splashed white overos.


Notice how these horses look as if they have been dipped or rolled in white paint. Horse #8 is out of both splashed white parents. Horse #9, despite the fact that the white crosses her back, is a splashed white overo. Her dam is horse #4 and her full sister is horse #6, and the sire is non-pinto.


Tovero is the term usually used for a horse that displays both tobiano and overo characteristics. This can be a difficult pattern to identify at times, and sometimes only the horse's offspring can determine if it is truly a tovero. (That is, if it produces both tobiano and overo foals out of non-pinto mates.)

Most toveros, like most overos, have bald or apron faces. This is frequently the only visible sign of the overo gene they carry. Many are marked on their body and legs just like tobiano pintos. More white than color is typical of toveros, but not a hard and fast rule. Toveros, since they carry two different pinto genes, produce a higher percentage of pinto foals than anything besides homozygous tobianos. (See ***Note below.) A few toveros are shown in the examples below.



These are toveros.

Horse #6 is in fact homozygous for the tobiano gene and also carries an overo gene. His sire was a tobiano and his dam a tovero. He will be able to produce tobianos and toveros, but no solids and no overos, since all of his foals will carry the tobiano gene and thus will display the tobiano pattern.


Difficult to distinguish patterns.


Horse #1 could be easily mistaken for an overo, if not for the fact that both parents are tobianos. This horse is, in fact, homozygous for the tobiano gene. Horse #2 is definitely an overo, but could be either a frame or a sabino. Horse #3 looks like a tovero, but is a full brother to #6 & 9 in the splashed white overo chart. He is Rosa Roca's Willy Bea Star, a splashed white overo by Rosa Roca's Tailor Made, who is a non-pinto bay.

*NOTE: Those of you who have studied equine genetics long enough will know that there have been a FEW apparently solid colored horses that have proven to carry the tobiano gene. However, this occurrence is so rare that most of us will never see one, so it doesn't really pay to even worry about it.

**NOTE: There is a wealth of information about the lethal white gene in frame overos available on the Internet.

***NOTE: Homozygous (pronounced ho-mo-zi-gus) tobianos will always produce tobiano foals (or toveros, if they or their mate carry the overo gene) regardless of what they are bred to, because they carry two tobiano genes, instead of one like most other pintos. They MUST have both tobiano pinto parents in order to be homozygous, but there is only a 25% percent chance that a foal from two tobiano parents will be homozygous. They can sometimes be distinguished by the presence of "paw prints," irregular spots of color within their white areas. But the only way to tell for certain is through progeny or blood testing. The University of California at Davis is one of the primary testing centers, and can be contacted over the Internet. There are no homozygous overos, apparently.

Pat Elder
Rosa Roca's Miniature Horses
11850 SE 159th St
Moore, OK 73165


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Expert Articles


Roca Rosa LogoIdentifying Appaloosa
Coat Patterns

Appaloosas, whether miniature or full size, come in several different patterns. To help you identify them, I have created the following images and descriptions, based on my years of study and research into equine color genetics. I hope it is helpful in clearing up some of the confusion.

Not all appaloosas are colored at birth. Some don't develop their color patterns until they are a few years old, and many appaloosas continue to change color and even pattern throughout their lives.

There are several traits that most appaloosas have in common: vertically striped hooves, mottled pink-and-black skin (usually around the eyes, nose, mouth and genitals), and visible sclera in the eyes. Some also have "lightning marks" on their legs. These jagged white marks appear on colored legs. See the far right picture under "snowflakes" for an example.

Below is a picture of mottling and white sclera, as well as one representing the appaloosa striped hoof. Note that, in Miniature Horses at least, many horses carrying the silver dapple gene have striped hooves. These, however, are normally amber and black or dark gray, while appaloosa striped hooves are frequently closer to black and white.


The following drawings represent some of the possible appaloosa color patterns, but by no means are intended to represent all of them. Keep in mind that these drawings are in black and white, while appaloosas can and do occur in any and all color combinations.


The Spotted Blanket Pattern

As the name implies, these horses have "blankets" of white over their hips, loins, and/or backs, and they have spots in those blankets. The spots can be self colored (sorrel on a sorrel horse) or black.

Spotted Blankets


The Non-Spotted Blanket Patterns

These are horses with a white blanket but no spots. If the horse has both appaloosa parents, it might be a "snowcap," which has been proven to be homozygous for the appaloosa gene. Snowcaps will always throw appaloosa foals, even when bred to non-appaloosa mates. Some of these may appear solid at birth but will color out later. If a horse does not have two appaloosa parents, it cannot be a snowcap, and is merely called a "non-spotted blanket."

Non-Spotted Blankets


The Leopard Appaloosa

The leopard is a white horse with spots. The spots can be black or sorrel or any other color, including the dilutes such as palomino. Some horses that appear to be leopards but were born with spotted blankets that got larger with age are called "near leopards."


The Varnish Roan Patterns

Varnish roan is a rather odd color pattern, usually distinguished by darker "varnish" area over the bridge of the nose, cheekbones, knees and hocks, stifles, and the points of their hips. These horses are usually heavily roaned, with a lot of white hairs mixed in with their base color. Some have blankets and/or spots, and some do not. Many varnish roans are born solid or displaying one of the other patterns, then gradually lighten with age.

Varnish Roan


The Snowflake Patterns

Snowflakes are colored horses (blacks or sorrels or palominos, etc) with white spots. Some have just a few, some are so heavily white spotted as to be mostly white. The latter can sometimes be difficult to tell from horses with spotted blankets. When a snowflake has tiny spots clustered over its hips, it is often called a "frost."


The Few Spot Leopard

Contrary to popular opinion, the "few spot" isn't just any appaloosa with a few spots. I've seen sorrel appaloosas with one or two white snowflakes listed as "few spots." This is incorrect. The true few spot is a white horse, often with nothing more to show his appaloosa heritage than mottling around eyes, mouth, and genitals. They usually have white schlera and striped hooves. Some few spots actually do have spots, but never very many. As with snowcaps, if a horse marked like this has both appaloosa parents, he will probably be homozygous, producing all appaloosa offspring.

Few Spot Leopards


Pat Elder
Rosa Roca's Miniature Horses
11850 SE 159th St
Moore, OK 73165


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   Pinto and Overo Color Patterns


   Paints and Pintos Color Patterns


Horse Head, Face and Leg Markings 


Basic Horse Color Chart