Saturday, April 6, 2013

My TB Is Morphing into An Appy!

Well. Not quite. But Salem is developing some chrome/bling besides his star.

Yes, it is possible, I promise; and I'm not just talking about some little white hairs from a scratch or other injury. Nope--I'm talking about Birdcatcher spots.

Willspynow, a 1991 Thoroughbred mare

The above pic is an extreme example of Birdcatcher spots; most that I've seen are much more subtle. So, what exactly are these little white flecks? According to, there is a group of markings (Chubari spots, Bend Or spots, Manchado, and Birdcatcher spots) and "these odd patterns of dark and light spots do occur in other breeds, but they seem to be particularly prolific in the Thoroughbred, which is, of course, why most of them are named after TBs. The genes responsible for these spots have not yet been identified, so not a great deal is known about them. They are, however, entirely separate from the genes responsible for Appaloosa coloration." Birdcatcher spots, named for the Irish-born Thoroughbred stallion Birdcatcher (1833), are "patterns of small white spots on a dark coat. Usually, these spots appear once a horse has reached maturity and eventually disappear. Sometimes, however, they do seem to be permanent." These are NOT white hairs that develop due to a cut/scrape/injury.

I've seen these same markings on a Quarter Horse and a warmblood, although not until I moved to Florida (I wonder if sunlight has anything to do with it?). And I think they're simply adorable. :-)

Salem only has a few so far. But I'm kinda hoping he'll develop more. It would be WAY cool if he was as speckled as Willspynow, but of course the odds of that happening are slim to none. Still, the six little flecks that he has are quite cute--kind of like reverse freckles.

Left Eye:

Left Side of Neck:

Left Haunch:

Right Side of Neck:

Close-up of RSoN spot #1:

Close-up of RSoN spot #2:

Right Haunch:

This one looks near-invisible here, but it's much more clear in person

Anyone else have a horse with Birdcactcher spots or other unusual markings?


Anonymous said...

There's a big TB at our barn who has lots of the spots, all over his body. Since he's developed them recently, his owner, who's not the sharpest tool, thinks he's got a skin problem, even though people have told her what the spots are.

Red, in the summer, develops what I've taken to calling "watermarks" - areas of his coat will lie in opposite directions to the rest of the hair. He also has one area on one flank where the hair is wavy, and has many white hairs scattered around on his torso - he isn't a roan nor is he aged so I'm not sure what that's about.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that I had a bay TB who had a few dark spots on her neck and body.

Val said...

Those spots look really cool!

"Reverse freckles" is a good term for them.

Salem looks so shiny, too, by the way. :)

SprinklerBandit said...

Cuna has a random black spot on his shoulder. Maybe it's a reverse reverse freckle? Haha, I don't know.

Frizzle said...

Kate, I had a friend whose QH developed Birdcatcher spots and she was also worried that he had some sort of skin fungus or something. She even had the vet look at him! :-) And that's really weird about Red's "watermarks", especially since he only gets them in the summer. I've never seen that. The dark spots might be Bend Or spots (if you click on the link, which I just fixed, there is a description of Bend Or spots on that page).

Val, I am loving the white flecks! :-) And yes, thank you, I think Salem's looking pretty slick, although that was pre-groom so he was a bit dusty--I feed him flax seed and spirulina, and am pretty much curry-obsessed, lol.

SB, I bet Cuna's black spot is also a Bend Or spot, especially since he's a TB--check out the link.

SprinklerBandit said...

You're right. That's exactly it.

Amy said...

Those are quite adorable. Steady has a few too. He had one when I got him and a few more have shown up over the years.

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Those are the most darling spots I've ever seen!!!!!! I want :) lol.
Love it, never seen it or heard about it. Saley is quite the glimmering sleek boy :) His mom keeps him looking so sexy maybe he's repaying her in adorable white freckles!

Frizzle said...

Amy, I'm hoping Salem is like Steady and he continues to speckle like a little hen. :-)

Kristen, Salem HATES being groomed (like, hates it with the burning of a thousand suns!), so if he knew I liked his spots he would probably try to NOT develop them. :-D He probably thinks I'm rubbing the bay right off of him, lol. But I'm sure he would like to know that he is "sexy"!

eventer79 said...

What is really interesting is that Solo (remember, half-TB) got a BUNCH of new birdcatcher spots at last farm (he has one on his belly that's been there about 5 years). Probably 8-10 new ones on his neck, sides, and haunches. Moved to new farm -- ALL disappeared except belly spot. 0.o

Encore, related to both The Tetrarch AND Bend Or, has none of either!

SheMovedtoTexas said...

My QH, Elvis, got those - although not as many as you show in this post. His biggest was the size of a quarter on his shoulder, and I'd say he got 1-2 smaller ones a year. I really liked it :)

Frizzle said...

Eventer, that's really interesting about Solo's spots--seems like environment was a factor??? So weird. I guess since they're not something that affects health/performance, people probably haven't researched the hows/whys of the ole spots.

SMT,yeah they're pretty cool. :-)

Unknown said...

Wow. We had them show up on a young gray warmblood and had NO idea what they were. Very interesting!

achieve1dream said...

Those are so cute!! If I remember right when I was a kid we had a Quarter horse get a couple of spots like that, but I don't remember for sure. :)