At times when you are with your equine friend, something about their face might strike out, making it unique to that particular horse. It could be a splash of white across their face, a white heart, or a small star. Horse face markings enhance the individuality of your horse. Although some people might not prefer them, they provide a horse with an aesthetic appeal.
The face markings on a horse are unique identifiers as no two marks are identical in shape. The location and condition of the markings determine the category of markings. To get a good idea about the face markings on your horse, see the chart below.
Horse Face Markings Chart
The basic facial markings on horses can be divided into ten categories. They are usually white and can help you in the event of theft. White markings occur in horses because of different genetic bases.
While most face markings of the horses fall under the following categories of markings, some do not. If your horse does not fit in one of the categories, it likely has a unique combination of markings.
|Characterized Shapes||Location of the Marking|
|Blaze||A vertical wide white stripe||Between the eyes|
|Star||A small but unclear star||On the forehead|
|Strip||A thin white marking||Central to the nose bridge|
|Snip||A small white patch||Between the nostrils|
|Bald||An extensive white coloring||Throughout the face|
|Ermine||A black-colored blotch||On top of the white coloring|
|Badger||A coat-colored stripe||Central to the nose bridge|
|Apron||An extensive white coloring||Below the eyes|
|Medicine Hat||An extensive white coloring with coat-colored ears||On top of the forehead|
|Combination||A mix of specific markings||Anywhere in the face|
Blaze is one of the most prominent white markings on the horse. It is a broad white stripe that runs down the face, covering almost entirely, the upper face region. It usually starts at the forehead and ends before the nose or the mouth.
In most cases, a blaze marking does not go over the eyes. One of the main differences between the blaze and other markings is the width. A blaze marking is more expansive than a strip marking, and is often very symmetrical. Besides, the blaze marking on the face of some horses can appear slightly crooked.
The star shape is one of the most petite types of horse face markings. It usually shows as a patch of white hair on the forehead. For most horses, it doesn’t look like a star.
As far as its categories go, it can look more like a small star, a giant star, a vertical star, a diamond-shaped star, an oval star, a curved star, a horizontal star, or a heart star. The star is never too wide to cover the eyes, but they can also combine with other face markings.
Unlike the blaze, the strip is a thin white marking that runs down a horse’s face. It goes by other names like race or stripe as well. Now and then, it can be found connected to a star marking to produce a variety of rare horse face markings.
A strip marking is often evenly displaced and central to the nose bridge. It is commonly not wider than an inch or two in width. Some horses have a broken pattern on the strip marking. In that case, the stripe is either interrupted or crooked towards the end with a pink area.
One of the most adorable horse markings, a snip is a small white patch, often seen between the nostrils. In several horses, a snip can also extend to cover the entire nose region. Some horses have a blaze or a strip alongside a snip. Or, other horses have a star-shaped marking along with a snip.
The snip horse face marking does not have a definite shape. Its proximity to the nose region is the only indication that helps identify a snip. By and large, it looks like a small shape that is elongated in a vertical direction.
One of the most dramatic markings on a horse’s face is the bald markings. Traditionally, a bald shape covers the entire face region. Or, as commonly seen, it covers at least one eye and spreads down to the whole face.
The beauty of a bald face mark comes with a considerable risk of sunburn. The prominent white scar on a horse means more pink skin around the nose and the eyes. Hence, the increase in pink areas makes a horse vulnerable to sun damage. Horse owners are advised to take precautionary measures with their bald horses, especially when the weather is hot.
The ermine shape is an outlier when it comes to identifying the basic facial markings on a horse. In other words, they are also known as smut spots or bend spots. Ermines are not as common as the other face markings, mainly because it appears in black. Unlike your usual white scar, an ermine looks like a black blotch or an inkblot.
An ermine marking is found in an area of white coloring. Their shape varies from around the blotch to an asymmetrical blotch. They are also be found in a deep red tone, specifically in darker horse breeds like chestnuts and palominos.
A badger is one of the rare face markings because of its unusual appearance. In a badger marking, the horse has a frontal appearance of a coat-colored marking. It is described as having a strip marking down the face in the color of the horse’s coat. In most cases, its appearance usually overrules all white markings.
In other words, you can think of it as a horse with a bald face, and a colored stripe running down its face. Some horse owners believe that a badger is similar to a reverse blaze. Or that it happens as the result of a skewed pattern.
An apron face marking is similar in shape to a bald or a badger marking. The face region covered by the white coloring is the only feature that differentiates the three markings. In an apron, the white coloring markedly falls below the eyes and has the most significant area covered in white.
The white coloring in an apron marking can occur above the eyes for some horses. But then again, it won’t be covering the space between the eyes, or will not extend to the full width as seen in bald or badger markings.
A medicine hat, also known as a war bonnet is in contrast with the familiar blaze or stripe markings. This type of marking takes up the horse’s entire face or covers its whole body. Often seen in white pinto horses, the horse’s coat color is only visible at the top of the forehead or near the ears.
Some ancient myths believe that the horse with a medicine hat marking has special powers. Also, their coats are seen as important symbols and were guarded closely by the ancient tribes.
Although most horses fit in one of the above categories of face marking, some do not. Contrary to popular opinion, it is pretty standard for horses to have a combination of face markings. For instance, a horse could have a blaze that stops midway and then starts again.
Likewise, they can also have a stripe and a star or any other combination. As frequently observed, many combinations are unique, with no two varieties alike. Amazingly, combination markings remind you of how amazing your horse is.
FAQs Related to Horse Face Markings
For new horse owners, identifying face markings can be a riveting challenge. To make it easier, we have answered some of the related questions that could otherwise create confusion.
The markings on a horse’s face are categorized into different types. The large variety of horse face markings has led us to distinctively define them in the said categories. To name a few, some of the typical horse face markings are blaze, snip, star, stripe, ermine, medicine hat, and apron.
In numerous horses, you can even find a combination of various horse face markings. Although combination face markings are not rare, they sure can make your horse look unique and special.
The white face on a horse can mean three different things:
If your horse has at least one eye covered in white, including the entire face, it is more likely to have a bald face marking.
It is more likely to be a badger if it has a whole face with a coat-colored stripe running down to the nose.
It is expected to be a medicine hat with an entire white face coloring but with colored ears.
On the contrary, if the white area covers beneath the eyes, it is likely to have an apron marking.
A star is a white patch between the eyes on a horse’s forehead. A faint star could be as small as a few white hairs or enormous enough to cover the entire forehead. Stars can have a fairly symmetrical shape, such as dots or diamonds, or look like uneven splotches.
Researchers are discovering an increasing number of single genes that cause white marks. Yes, the penchant for white markings is genetic, but we are still a long way from having enough information to reliably forecast the marks that will appear on the next foal.
On a horse, ermine spots are black or dark patches in white markings just above the hoof. “ermine markings” is another name for ermine spots. Ermine spots must contact the coronary (or “coronet”) band to be considered an ermine spot rather than a specific spot or mark.
A blaze is a medium to broad white marking that runs the length of the horse’s face or most of it. From top to bottom, they are usually the same width or near to it. A wildfire that has an unusual shape is known as an “irregular” blaze.
It could be a strip marking, if the white stripe is thinner. A strip is a narrow strip of white hair that runs down the front of the horse’s face and is sometimes referred to as a stripe. It’s often confused with a blaze, but they’re not the same thing.
By and large, the horse face markings chart is designed for you to learn more about your horse. If your horse suddenly has pink patches developing around the eyes, it can be a sign of a skin condition called vitiligo. Besides, some scars can also leave white markings on a horse’s face. In most cases, face markings often fade or change with age but remind you of your horse’s uniqueness.