March 16, 2010

She's Black-Bay Rabicano!

Rose has been shedding like crazy and seems to have lost the majority of her winter "fluff" and her trace-clip from last fall is at long last fading as her new summer coat is growing in. I noticed a couple weeks ago that as her new coat is growing in so are a lot of randomly dispersed white hairs. Most noticeable at her flanks and dock, there is ticking all over her body. Barrel, chest, neck, elbows and even a bit on her face. I was dumbfounded. My little mare is out of a homozygous black stallion, and a dark bay mare, thus ruling out graying...although I thought to my self perhaps it is possible? She does have gray's in her pedigree, Gotthard on her sire's side and Percheron (assuming gray) on her dam's. I've never heard of a gray horse that wasn't directly out of gray parents though. I asked a couple friends what they thought, and my assumptions about grays seemed to be everyone's same assumption.

Off the cuff, one friend did throw roaning in to the mix as a possibility. Can horses begin to roan at age 2.5? Knowing nothing about roans I decided to get my research cap on and look into. Nope. Roans are born roan. So that couldn't be it. Back to the drawing board and Google. After a quick search for "white ticking" I came across a slew of information about a color modifier common in Thoroughbred's called rabicano. From all the description, that seemed to match what was going on with Rose. Now for the brilliant part, it occurred to me that I could simply ask the nice gal I bought her from if she'd had white ticking in her coat before? Sometimes a quick email is a far easier route to solving a mystery than all the Google searches on the planet. BINGO! Sure enough she is rabicano and has always had some white ticking in her summer coat. The question is how much more pronounced will it become as she ages? Only time will tell.

After more research on the rabicano modifier, I got a good understanding of what it was and where it originated from and decided to look back into Gatsby's lineage to see if there was a link there. Unfortunately, her dam Piper is paperless, so there is no way of knowing for sure what her lineage brings to the table. Back to Gatsby though. I recalled that he was part thoroughbred (TB), so I started tracing those lines back, but found nothing conclusive. I randomly decided to just look at his Hanoverian lineage...I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it.  Birdcatcher! Back in the 19th century one of Gatby's Hanoverian ancestors Alsbad (1890) was out of a TB sire named Adeptus (1880) that descended from the Stockwell (1849) line of the famous stallion Birdcatcher (1833). Rabicano markings are often referred to as Birdcatcher ticks in TB's due to his proliferate ability to pass this trait onto his offspring. Now that I was knew what I was looking for, I poked around in the lineage some more and found that many of Gatsby's ancestors were line bred to Adeptus. So in addition to that initial Hanoverian line link that I found, Adeptus pops up in several other lines as well, which might explain why centuries later Rose is strongly exhibiting her rabicano markings. This was one exciting find! Not only does my little filly seem to have inherited some speed from Seattle Slew, she inherits a rare color modifier from Birdcatcher as well. I promise to upload better photos of her coat once she's fully shed out.

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