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In the world of equestrianism, horses are the protagonist. But for most, the first thing that comes to mind when speaking of it is the activity or the riding itself. They would immediately think of the techniques and styles used in order to successfully ride and propel the horse to move forward. However, as horses are the main the character in this arena, it is only appropriate to be acquainted with them.

markings on a horse's face

One of the first few things we can do to know them is to identify their facial features. A horse's face has several types of markings. These markings serve as individual horse’s identification. In addition, these facial markings on the horse's face help horse owners in filling out registration papers and other documents since it will be one of the things that will be asked in order to identify their horses.

In horses, markings are usually the distinctive white area on a dark base coat color. These markings are usually existent at the time of birth and do not change over the horse’s lifetime. The predominant horses’ coat colors of chestnut and black are determined by genes known as extension genes or red factor since its recessive form is red or chestnut and the dominant form is black. Horses that a have a white color are often mislabelled. A horse that appears to be white is usually middle-aged or older gray. Gray horses are born with a darker shade and get lighter as they grow old, but they usually keep their white hair coat. However, the occurrence of horses which have predominantly white hair and pink skin are rare. Markings usually have pink skin underneath most of the white hairs but sometimes a few faint markings can occasionally have white hair with no underlying pink skin. As mentioned, the marking may change a bit when horses grow old or when they shed their winter coat but the underlying pattern stays the same.


The markings on a horse's face are usually described according to shape and location. In the case wherein there is more than one distinct facial marking, it will be named separately. There are times but not in all cases, when a white marking goes beyond an eye, then that eye may be blue rather than brown.

Below are the common facial markings:


This facial marking is a wide white stripe down the middle of the face. It runs through the forehead down to the nose which basically encompasses the entire bridge of the nose. This can be well proportioned but for some, it can also be uneven. Compared to strip, which would be discussed later, blaze is wider. This is basically the difference between these two kinds of markings as blaze covers most of the face between the ridges of the bone.

blaze marking on horse


This is also known as stripe or race which is a narrow white stripe down the middle of the face. It is a band of white that extends approximately well-proportioned stripe down the bridge of the nose. In this facial marking, a star and the white markings on the nose may be connected by it. For some instances, a star, strip, and snip could appear in three separate markings. A strip is quite narrow that could be an inch or two in width and stays on the nasal bone.

strip mark on a horse's face


A bald face is characterized by a very wide blaze extending to or beyond the eyes. The white marking can run through the forehead going to the nose and on the side, it can reach the cheekbones from beyond the eye area. For some, bald faces have blue eyes. Horses with a bald face or have a lot of white areas are susceptible to have a sunburn.

bald face horse


It is a white marking between or above the eyes. This may appear in few white hairs on the forehead. It could also appear large that can cover the entire area of the forehead. In terms of shape, it can be symmetrical or uneven. If a stripe or blaze is existent, this marking must be wider than the vertical marking which is to be designated separately. For some horse like the gray ones, the star may not be as noticeable as it is when the horse is young. This marking may disappear as the horse grows old.

star mark on horse's face


Snip is a patch of white on a horse's face particularly on the nose. It is a mark between the nostrils which for some may extend beyond the nose. This may be connected to a blaze or a stripe.

snip marking on horse's face

At this point, we already know the 5 types of horses’ facial markings. In addition, there are more words used to describe the markings and here are some of them:

  • Faint. This is for a small but permanent marking which is usually made of white hairs without any pink skin underneath.
  • Interrupted. This is a marking which is broken and not solid for the whole length of the face.
  • Connected. This term is used to describe uniquely different markings which happen to be joined to one another.
  • Irregular or crooked. This is used for markings which do not have almost straight path commonly in a strip or blaze marking.
  • Lip markings. This term may be used to describe markings which are located at the lower lip or on the chin. It may also signify the existence of a sabino color pattern.


Markings among horses as above mentioned are used to help people to identify them from one another. We now know different facial markings among them. In addition, we use leg markings among horses too. This is described by the highest point in horse’s legs that are covered with white hair. Generally, underneath the hoof of a horse with a white marking at the coronary line will also be in light color. Corresponding to the hair coat, the hoof could be both dark and light if it has partial markings on its coronary band.


  • Stocking. It is a white marking which extends at least to the bottom of the knee or higher than that.
  • Sock. This is marking is also called a boot which extends higher than the fetlock but not as high as the knee.
  • Fetlock. This marking could sometimes also be called a boot which extends above the fetlock.
  • Pastern. It extends over the top of the hoof but stops below the fetlock.
  • Coronet. This white marking is just above the hoof which usually measures not more than an inch.


One thing common about the markings that have been mentioned earlier used to identify horses usually follow the white color on their hair. However, there also markings found among horses which do not comprise the color white hair. Here are some of them:

  • Bend or spots. These are spots are usually dark faint. These are commonly seen among horses having a chestnut or palomino coat color.
  • Ermine marks. These are black marks seen on white markings which are frequently seen on leg markings above the hoof.
  • Medicine Hat. This type of marking is an uncommon type of Pinto or Paint. A medicine hat is where the horse has dark ears and poll but is encircled in white color on all sides of the head and the neck.
  • Shield. It is a dark pinto marking where the color of the horse’s chest is dark. It is completely encircled in white on the shoulders, legs, belly, and neck. This is the name of the marking which is used to describe rare horses that has a totally dark head entirely covered with white.