What Is A Blue Roan Horse? Colors, Breeds, Pictures

A blue roan horse sounds nothing less than a dream. Running through the green field with its changing hues and colors, this horse breed is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. Its unique coat and various colors are the most prominent feature of the breed.

You must be wondering how unreal a blue-colored horse is. Well, today you’ll find out all the fun facts and scientific reasons behind this beauty! Read till the end to learn all about the different coat colors, the genetics behind them, and how the features change with time.

What Is A Blue Roan Horse?

A blue roan horse is a horse with a blue appearance. Yes, it isn’t actually blue in color but the unique roan coat gives it a blue tone. The coat is half black and half white. This, paired with the dark skin base gives off blue shades.

The horses of the blue roan breed have darker heads, tails, and lower legs, and manes. In these parts of the body, the white hairs are either very less or not present at all. This transition from blue to dark is very noticeable. An inverted-V mark separates the lower legs from the rest of the body. Similarly, the head and tail also have a sudden shift of color.

A roan horse coat has all these very specific qualities. Even though a lot of gray horses were registered as roan horses previously, a true blue roan was first born in 2000.

Blue Roan Horse Colors

Unlike what the breed name suggests, blue roan horses do not only come in a blue shade. Although this is the most common color associated with the breed, you can find red and bay roan horses too.

Blue Roan

A blue roan horse is, of course, one with a bluish tint. It is basically a black horse with the roan gene. So, the horse has a black base with an even mix of black and white hair on the entire body. However, the legs and head are darker than the rest of the body. Sometimes, there are a few red hairs on the body too.

Even if one parent of the horse has the roan gene, it leads to the birth of a blue roan horse. The genetics of these horses aren’t just similar to a black horse but also to a brown one. If the horse has the cream dilution gene, the color genetics won’t be much different from buckskins too.

Red Roan

The red roan horse is a sorrel or chestnut horse with the roan gene that is inherited from one of the parents. These horses have a chestnut or sorrel base, so the overall hue of their coat is red.

Overall, a red roan is pretty similar to a blue roan except for the color hues. Instead of black and white hair, the red roan horse has red and white hair all over. The even mix with a brownish-red base gives a beautiful red color to the horse. Also, the tail and mane of these horses are darker than the rest of the body. This is where the majority of the hair is red.

Bay Roan

The last color in the blue roan horse breed is bay. As you may have already guessed, a bay horse with the roan gene is what a bay roan horse is.

Once again, the roan gene is inherited even if only one parent had it. The genes of a bay roan are identical to a bay horse, with the addition of the roan gene, of course. Similarly, the black points are inherited from at least one parent who is either black or has black points.

The most noticeable difference between a red roan and a bay roan is that the latter has a black tail, mane, and lower legs. A darker head is also a sign of a bay roan horse. Other than that, the rest of the body has a 50-50 mix of red and white hair.

Unique Roan Patterns On A Blue Roan

A true blue roan horse has a very unique appearance.

The roan pattern is unlike anything found on any other horse breed when it comes to the physical look. The even coat is consistent from the birth of the horse till its death. However, it may change temporarily in certain seasons. Other than that, all horses of this breed have a perfectly balanced mix of white and colored hair.

No matter what the color of the horse, the legs and head are always darker than the rest of the body. The beautiful shiny tint on the horse’s body is unmatchable. This is why a true blue roan horse can be easily distinguished from other breeds.

Blue Roan vs. Other Roan Patterned Horses

It is not a rare occasion when a blue roan horse is confused with a grullo or gray horse. The true blue roan horse owners feel the offense when other roan patterned breeds are mislabeled as roan horses. Let’s clarify the differences so that you don’t make this mistake.

A gray horse can sometimes look very much like a blue roan horse. But, the biggest identifiable feature is that a gray horse’s coat keeps changing. A gray foal can be born any color. It is through different seasons and passing years of life that the coat lightens to become gray.

On the other hand, a roan horse has the same coat throughout its life. This is because the roan is a result of the horse’s genes. The gray of gray horse is not a genetic quality. Instead, it is a color modifier that causes the loss of pigment that leads to the appearance of gray hair.

A grullo can be harder to identify. It has a blue coat with dark points much like a true blue roan horse. A bay grullo also has a similar physical appearance to a bay roan.

However, if you look closely, a grullo has solid colored hair on its coat. Unlike a blue roan’s mix of white and black hair, it is the original color of the hair of a grullo that makes it appear blue. For this reason, a grullo of this color is also called a blue dun.

Roan vs. Rabicano

The rabicano pattern has white flecking all over the horse’s coat. This gives a horse with a dark coat a resemblance to a roan horse. However, rabicano patterns are a result of a totally different gene. Moreover, horses with this gene have a white base of the tail, unlike a roan horse’s completely dark tail.

Blue Roan Horse Genetics

So far, we’ve been talking all about the uniqueness of the genes of a roan horse. The credit for the beauty and exclusivity goes entirely to the alleles that we’ll be explaining now. If you don’t know already, keep in mind that alleles are part of the genes that control certain factors of appearance.

The three main alleles responsible for blue roan horses’ appearance are Agouti, Roan, and Red Factor.

Starting off with agouti, it is a dominant gene. If a horse has the agouti allele, the color of its body is affected. This means that a horse with this allele may have a red or brown body but the legs, mane, and tail are black.

The black gene plays a decisive role in the color of the horse’s body. This gene is also a dominant one. A blue roan horse, for example, has a black base. This means that the agouti allele is absent which is why the black gene takes over the color of the body.

Since the legs, head, mane, and tail of blue roan horses are always dark, this means they always have a black gene. A red roan horse, on the other hand, will not have the black gene at all. This is why it has red legs. In terms of alleles, this is the red factor.

Lastly, we have the roan allele. Roan horses may have one or two roan alleles. In the case of one, the horse will have a roan pattern on itself but there is only a 50% chance that its foals will be roan horses too. A horse with two roan alleles will always give birth to a roan horse. However, this genetic mix is very rare.

Changes In Blue Roan Coats

One of the most highlighted qualities of blue roan horse breeds is that the beauty of the pattern remains consistent throughout their lifetime. The shift of hues doesn’t fade, lighten, or darken. The blue color won’t become more prominent over time nor will a red roan horse’s coat lose its color.

However, there are certain instances when the roan coat changes. First of all, when a roan horse is born, it is a solid-colored horse. The roan coloring only appears after the first foal coat is shed. After that, the coat doesn’t budge except in certain seasons.

During the winter season, a roan horse’s coat color darkens. This is when it most resembles a gray horse but still maintains its distinguishing look. As summer approaches, the coat lightens again.

Another fun fact about the blue roan horse breed is how a scar heals. Typically, if a bay horse is injured, the healed scar is covered with white hair. However, a roan horse’s scar heals with the colored hair, similar to the color of the base coat.

It is only in the aforementioned cases that a roan horse’s coat changes. Otherwise, these horses maintain their beauty for a lifetime.

FAQs Related To Blue Roan Horses

Blue roan horses are one mesmerizing breed. These FAQs will help you learn more about them.

Is a blue roan horse rare?

A blue roan horse is not rare, but they aren’t as common as other horse breeds. Like any other breed, they can easily reproduce, however, the genetic makeup of these horses is not very common. The unique mix of genes makes a blue roan horse a rare sight.
However, they also aren’t anywhere near the risk of extinction. If you look in the right places and organizations, you’ll find a true blue roan horse quite easily.

What type of horse is a blue roan?

A blue roan horse can be born from various horse breeds. The most common appearance of a blue roan horse is in draft horses and pony breeds. Most blue roans are American Quarter Horse, Paso Fino, or Welsh Pony.
Since blue roans are the result of certain alleles, there is no specification or restriction on which horse breeds can birth a roan foal. However, it does depend on the genes of the parent horses.

What is the rarest coat color a horse can have?

The rarest color in horses is white. It may come as a surprise, but a horse with a white coat and unpigmented skin is difficult to find. These horses have blue or brown eyes. Usually, the horses that are considered ‘white’ are just gray horses that have lost the pigment on their hair. However, a true white horse has flesh-colored skin, unlike gray horses.
Cremello horses are also categorized as rare. The horses of this breed rarely survive till adulthood. Hence, only a few Cremello horses are found.

How many colors of roan horses are there?

Roan horses come in three colors; blue, bay, and red. Blue roan horses have a black base with black and white hair. Bay and red roans have a chestnut or sorrel base with a mix of red and white hair.
The difference between these two is that red roans have dark red points whereas bay roans have black points. Blue roans also have black dark points.

Do blue roan horses turn white?

Blue roan horses do not turn white. The most distinguishing quality of this breed is that the coat doesn’t change or fade. It remains consistently blue forever. The only changes in a blue roan’s coat are that it lightens during summers and darkens in winters.
Moreover, blue roan horses have black legs, mane, tails, and heads. These parts of the body do not change color. Hence, a blue roan horse never turns white.

What is the most dangerous horse breed?

Despite being easily trainable, some horse breeds pose a threat to their riders and owners. Among the most dangerous breeds are Arabian horses, Thoroughbreds, Akhal-Teke, Mustangs, and Przewalski horses.
These breeds are not bad, you only have to be cautious. Beginners should avoid interaction with these horses. However, once you reach an intermediate level, you start understanding your horses better, and so you may try riding these horses. All you have to do is focus on their training and go slow to give them enough space to adjust to a new environment. Also, learn the behavioral patterns of these horses to ensure minimal danger while riding.

What is the blue horse symbol of?

Blue horses symbolize spirituality. Some believe that it is a sign of a breakthrough. It opposes materialism and supports masculinity. A blue horse also represents the Blue Rider Group. It is considered to be a source of a breakthrough. In poetry, blue horses are used to hint towards destruction and death.
All in all, blue horses show power and strength.


In the end, we are now clear on what exactly roan horses are. We know that they aren’t the same as gray horses or blue duns. Their genetic mix and other physical attributes have been clearly distinguished from other breeds.

You are now an expert on blue roan horses ready to hop into the search for the perfect roan foal!