Few posts on this blog have generated as much traffic as the ones about Wing’s Sable Sky, the American Saddlebred with a reversed dappled pattern. (Previous posts about her can be found here and here.) Posts about Sable Sky prompted Julia Bahr to send in photos of her Missouri Foxtrotter Rex’s New Taste of Dallas. Those images showed the progression of the roaning on Dallas as she aged, but because she is a palomino the effect was more subtle than that on Sable Sky.

Soon after that, Joanne Abramson sent pictures of her reversed dappled Miniature mare, Pacific Lady Godiva. Joanne not only had great current pictures, but a series of photos at various ages that show the progression of the roaning. Even more helpful, the base color on Godiva is black bay, so there is plenty of contrast. (For those that have read my book, Joanne may be familiar as she was mentioned in the Acknowledgements. She color tests her entire herd, and posts clear pictures and full testing status, including negative tests, on the Pacific Pintos site. For those with an interest in color, it is a wonderful resource that I highly recommend!)

Pacific Lady Godiva is homozygous for black (EE) and heterozygous at Agouti (Aa). She also tested positive for frame, making her a really good example of just how minimal that pattern can be. (Extremely minimal frames appear to be more common in Miniatures, in my experience.)  Just what might be causing her reversed dappling is open to speculation. But is is clear that the pattern developed over time. Here she is as a weanling.

Not in particular how little white there was on her face at this point, compared to her as a mature horse. Likewise, as a foal she does not appear to have white on her legs, yet as an adult she has an extensively roaned left fore as well as some roaning on the right fore. (In the first two images, she is seven years old.)

The early stages of the roaning are visible in these photos of her at age four. Like the Foxtrotter Dallas, the roaning is more pronounced on the face at this point.

This photo of her back was taken at age six. This placement is a bit different from the two gaited horses in that her patterning is more concentrated along the topline, whereas theirs appears to be more concentrated on the sides. In that way, Godiva is reminiscent of some of the odd Connemaras discussed in the earlier post Ponies Don’t Read. (I have it on my to-do list to contact the owner of Wintermist Sweet Shannon for permission to run photos of her. I have really good images, but nothing runs on the blog without express permission from the photographers, and sometimes that creates a bit of a delay on my part.)

What I also find interesting about Godiva is that her patterning, at least in photos, is not entirely symmetrical. She is more extensively dappled on her right side than on her left, as these face shots show.

I should add that this type of coloring does not really have a name. I have called it “reversed dappled roaning” for lack of any widely accepted terminology. Images of Wing’s Sable Sky – both Dee Dee Murray’s lovely photo and the snapshots that ran with the original Craigslist ad for her – have been widely shared across the internet. Many have called her “giraffe-marked”, which is certainly descriptive. It is also potentially confusing because that term is already widely used, along with the term lacing, for the pattern of reticulated spotting in Miniatures and other breeds.

Certainly the pattern on Godiva is similar in location, and lacing is also progressive. It does look a bit different, though. Cindy Evans took this pictures of Ace of Spades, a Miniature with lacing. It is quite possible that his pattern will progress a bit over time, but the way the pattern extends down the sides (and especially on the neck) on Godiva is a bit different.

But perhaps more importantly, the outline looks quite different. Lacing most often looks like a thin white outline. The pattern on Godiva is wider and has a softer, more diffused outline. (Hopefuly I have not given anyone vertigo by tilting the Joanne’s image of Godiva’s back to match the angle on the image of Spades!)

Seeing detailed images of the progression of this pattern was really helpful. I am really interested to see if the patterns on the three horses in these posts – Godiva, Dallas and Sable Sky – get any more extensive with age.

I also have to thank all the owners and photographers who are so generous with providing images and information for this blog. You help make putting together this blog such an enjoyable experience!

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