7 Shades of Horse Hair is a blog about horse hair, from lightest to darkest. It’s a study of horse hair and the many shades within the spectrum of colors.
Horse colors are described using a color chart that shows what colors are acceptable in competition, but there are no guidelines for shades. This blog attempts to fill that void and provide information on the colors of horse hair that horses have and people desire.
The owner and creator of this site is a retired horse show exhibitor who has spent hours in the show ring sporting some of these colors. I’m also an artist and have painted this lovely palette on many occasions. The colors are depicted with oil paints on canvas in order to portray them as accurately as possible.
It’s time to have a conversation about horse hair. Let’s start by defining terms. There are seven shades of horse hair, ranging from the lightest to the darkest: white, cream, palomino, buckskin, brown, bay and black.
Pale colors indicate more cream; darker colors indicate fewer cream genes. Buckskin, brown and bay are all shades of “red” horse hair; black is a shade of “black.” These names are misleading because actual red horses aren’t really red, and actual blacks aren’t really black. But the naming tradition is too strong to be broken now.
The first thing you need to know about horse hair is that it comes in two varieties: straight and curly. Curly horse hair has a characteristic spiral pattern; straight horse hair doesn’t.* The second thing you need to know is that curly horse hair is rarer than straight horse hair. Straight horse hair makes up about 70% of all horse breeds. Curly horse hair makes up about 30%. The third thing you need to know is that the rarity of curly horse hair isn’t due to some conspiracy among breeders who prefer straight-haired horses. Instead, it’s a simple matter of genetics: most of the genetic variation in horses is found in
The actual color of horse hair is more complicated than you might think. In fact, it’s more complicated than I thought, too.
Horsehair comes in about 7 shades, from palest yellow to deepest black. If the horse has a dark coat, the mane and tail are dark, but the belly and legs are lighter. If the horse has a light coat, all of its hair is light.
The summer coat of a horse tends to be darker than its winter coat, and also coarser. Both factors make the hair look darker.
Sometimes horses have grays mixed in with their brown or black hair. The gray hairs usually show up on the muzzle or around the eyes first. Sometimes a single white hair will grow among all the rest; people used to say that a single white hair was an omen of bad luck for its owner.
A lot depends on how long a horse’s hair is allowed to grow before it’s shorn—the longer, the lighter; shorter, darker—and how finely it’s shorn after it’s cut. Horses with thick manes and tails tend to keep them long because they hold heat during cold weather; they’re lopped off shorter than thin-maned horses with thin tails in cold weather
Horse hair comes in many shades, from a light yellow-blonde to a deep black. The lighter shades can be confused with palomino or white horses, and the darker shades can be confused with some grays. Some of these colors are difficult to tell apart in photographs, but they are very different under natural sunlight. Horses also come in chestnut and dun colors, which also have distinctive hues.
Horse breed registries typically list the color of each horse within its breed (though they don’t always agree). There is no such thing as a black horse registry, so there is no official registry for the true black shade.
Horse hair comes in several different lengths. Long hair is used for making fine ropes, yarns and fabrics. Mane hair is long, coarse and curly or wavy and is used for braiding and decorating saddles, bridles, halters etc. Medium length hair is used for making coarse ropes and braiding. Short hair is coarser still and used for brushes and brooms.
Horse hair comes in a variety of shades, from light grey to black. Each shade has its own name, ranging from the very light color called “silver” to the very dark hue called “black.” It is important for the horse owner to understand which shades the horse may have, because each one requires a different care and grooming procedure.
One of the commonest shades of horse hair is called “tawny.” Horses that are predominantly chestnut brown in color often have tawny manes and tails. In fact, there are many chestnut-colored horses that are predominantly tawny. However, there are also some chestnut horses whose manes and tails may be “washed out” or faded to a lighter shade. Nevertheless, chestnut horses with tawny manes and tails can often be distinguished by the presence of what is called “salt and pepper” hairs mixed throughout their manes and tails.
The term salt and pepper refers to small spots of white mixed in with the tawny shades on the tips of the horse’s hair. This is particularly true along the edges of the mane and tail where it joins with the darker body coat. It can also appear on white markings on other parts of the body
Blonde, auburn, black, brown, bay, chestnut, sorrel! It’s hard to keep them straight. While many names for horse colors have been used in the English language over the years, most have fallen out of use. And as anyone who has spent time around horses knows, there are some colors you see that don’t seem to fit into any of these categories.
Trying to understand the names of horse colors can be confusing because the same words are often used for the color and for other aspects of the horse. The word “black” is both a color and a breed. A gray horse is not necessarily gray in color; it can also be a cross between two other colors. And sometimes we use different terms to describe the same color depending on what we want to emphasize: chestnut and red can look identical except for the mane and tail.
This list is an attempt to sort out some common and uncommon names for colors found in horses. Some of these words may sound familiar, but you might not know how to define them or which colors they refer to. Others may sound strange or even contradictory; knowing why some terms are used can help make sense of their definition. And some of the names will probably surprise you: did
The versatility of horse hair is something that we, at Horse Hair For Sale, are well aware of. We have been selling horse hair for a long time and our team of experts in the industry are able to guide you through the process of finding what you need and getting it shipped quickly to your door.
Tail hair is something that you will find a lot of uses for, not only can you use it to make some horsehair paintbrushes but you can also use it to make fly-tying materials, or even some flys like the ones in this example here. You can also use tail hair as part of a hackle when tying flies such as the parham dragonfly or the zonker style dry flies.
And much like with all horsehair products you will find that using tail hair will really help strengthen your flys and give them a bit more action whilst they are being fished.
Ear hair is another popular choice amongst our customers and again, there are many different uses for this type of hair. Some people choose to use ear hair when tying flies such as the shellback crayfish or the rainbow warrior, but ear hair can be used in many more ways than just for fly tying.
Many people choose to tie their