Whether they are galloping across the big screen or winning hearts and championships in modern horse sports, buckskin horses hold a special place in Hollywood history and cowgirl culture. These beautiful creatures are also prized for their durability and intelligence making them a great work horse.
Although buckskin is not a specific breed, it is found in many different horse breeds including Quarter horses and even Quarter horse crosses. The beauty of a buckskin is in its golden sheen and distinct patterns that make it stand out from the crowd. These unique patterns can include dappling, countershading or the classic dark dorsal stripe down the back that is so reminiscent of a zebra.
The buckskin is the result of a single gene called the cream dilution gene which takes a normal bay horse and dillutes the red pigment leaving the black areas unaffected. Without this gene they would be just regular bays. This does not affect the quality of the coat or any other physical traits and the horses can be very athletic.
Buckskin horse colors can vary in shade but all will have the distinct black points on their ears, tail, mane and lower legs. Some will have a darker stripe down the back while others may be dun and might not have the traditional dark dorsal stripe at all.
The dapples that are so common on buckskin horses add an extra dimension to their beauty and these can be circular or irregular in shape and scattered throughout the body. This gives them an incredibly distinctive texture and they are not seen on all buckskins as some horses can be completely without them.
In some cases the buckskin will be dappled with white hairs and this can be a beautiful color combination. The white hairs often form a fringe around the ears, tail and mane and sometimes on the face as well giving the buckskin horse a one of a kind look.
Black buckskins are not as common as the other shades of this unique coat color but can be quite striking. These horses are born pale and as they grow their coat will gradually become darker. They are usually mistaken for liver chestnut or black and can be difficult to tell apart when examining their coat closely. This is because some of the red pigment will be diluted to tan and some of the black will remain, similar to a bay with a dilution gene. These horses are also referred to as smoky buckskins or smoky cream and are commonly found in Welsh ponies, Cobs and Connemaras.