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Colour-changing pony

From: Irene

Dear Jessica We bought a pony last year as a 2yr old . It was one of those situations where the pony as well as two others just needed to be taken home. They were in extremely poor condition. After a lot of TLC the ponies really picked up and are a joy to have around. The pony in question however is going through dramatic colour changes in her coat. Firstly she went from strawberry roan to almost white grey and now we see signs of brown coming through. Now I have dealt with horses for quite a few years and I know that youngsters can change colour but I have never seen such dramatic changes over such a short space of time. If you have any clue what is going on with this pony please share. We are totally baffled and don't know what colour to expect next. Many Thanks Irene


Hi Irene! Many horses experience some change in colour over the years, but this IS dramatic. It sounds to me as though your new pony may be a roan, in which case you will have seasonal colour changes to enjoy for the rest of that pony's life. Some horses have such noticeable changes of coat-colour over the course of a single year that it can be difficult for anyone to imagine that they are the same horses. Icelandic roans show some particularly spectacular colour changes - in fact, the Icelandic term for "roan" is "litförótt", which translates to "always changing colour". It's a very well-chosen term! f your local library has a book on Icelandic Horses, you should check it out and look at the amazing seasonal changes in roan horses' coat colours.

Your pony sounds quite normal for a roan. If you'd owned her when she was a foal, you would probably have seen a dark-coloured foal, since many roans just show their base coat-colour for the first year or so. If she is a roan, then she won't get lighter from year to year as a grey horse would - in fact, she may actually get a little darker each year. She'll just keep cycling through a series of seasonal colour changes each year. Most roans are darker in the winter and lighter in the summer, and your pony may cycle through three or four distinct colours every year, looking black or bay or brown or chestnut in winter, possibly light grey or almost white in the spring, grey or light pink (again, depending on her base colour) in late spring and summer, growing darker as winter approaches... but probably always with a darker head, lower legs, mane, and tail.

You're very lucky - owning a roan horse is good entertainment for people who enjoy different coat colours. Be sure to take seasonal photos this year, because they'll tell you what sequence of colour changes you can expect to see every year from now on.

Jessica

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