The full horse from the previous post, showing a rather impressive variety of pattern edges all on one horse.

"My face doesn't look like it belongs with my butt!"

The recent discussion of the possible sabino-manchado horse has had me thinking about the topic that has consumed much of my attention for the last few years, which is pattern interaction. That was the subject that I began to explore in a series of articles for the magazine published for the (now sadly gone) Realistic Equine Sculpture Society. I had touched upon it before in presentations, but only in the most superficial way, because exploring the ways that the different patterns interact is speculative. We cannot test for most of these patterns, and to make matters worse we already know that some of what we call a pattern (like sabino) is actually a catch-all phrase for a group of patterns that may in fact prove to be quite different from one another. When teaching about horse color, it seemed less confusing to stick with what was actually known.

But just as my friend Sarah Minkiewicz-Breunig pointed out in a recent blog post about the difference between anatomical charts and living, breathing animals, and how important that is for anyone wishing to convey life in their sculpture, so too is there a difference between the rules and categories of coat color genetics and the living animals we encounter. Much of what is said about horse color is simplified. It has to be; that is the first step to understanding it. But once those concepts are clear – once a person understands that this is a frame and that a tobiano and that a sabino – then the next step is exploring the far more complicated way that color presents on individual horses.

And one of the biggest influences on that is the way that the different patterns interact. Someone questioned the use of “portions” of the photos in the previous post, but that is exactly what pattern interaction is about. When there are two (or more) patterns, which portions remain? Which are lost? Which get changed so that they look different from either of the original pattern?

In the next few days I am going to try to reformat some of the information that appeared in the RESS articles, and hopefully from there start exploring the topic further.