Strawberry Roan vs Red Roan? Knowing the Underlying Difference

Feb 20, 2024 | Super Equestrian


Imagine you're taking a winter hike, crunching through fresh snow under a bright blue sky. Suddenly, you see a horse in the distance. 

Not just any horse, mind you, but one with a coat like a sunset on a snowy mountain top – reddish-brown flames flickering against the white. It's enough to make you stop in your tracks, phone forgotten, just to soak in the view.

Now, picture another horse, this one a bit darker, like a rich chocolate brownie sprinkled with tiny white marshmallows. They're both stunning, sure, but something's different. It's like they're cousins, maybe even twins, but with a secret family recipe for coat color. One's got fire in its fur, and the other's got snowflakes. 

So, what's the deal? 

Why are these two beauties not just eye candy, but walking mysteries of genetics? Let's skip the drama and dig into deeper facts because the story behind their coats is just as fascinating as the view itself.

Unveiling the Strawberry Roan

Roan horses are stunning, in terms of strength and looks. They have several classifications. Strawberry roans are one of them. You may wonder what makes them unique. 

Let's take a closer look at them:

a. What does the term Strawberry roan mean?

Roans means horse coat color pattern that has three colors. They can be bay, blue, or red. Strawberry roans are mainly roan horses with pigment variant KIT genes. 

They create a creamy apricot look or light pinkish-colored hair on the body, that's why they are called strawberry roan. However, It's not a standardized term by the breed registry.  

b. What are their base coat?

These characteristics of a light chestnut or sorrel base coat make the strawberry roan’s unique

hue:

  • Shades: They have a mixture of red or orange, or pink and white hair. It creates a great unique texture of color. 
  • Warmth: The lightness of the base coat of a sorrel or light chestnut horse adds depth and warmth to the roan pattern. 
  • Variations: The number of white hairs creates the variation. Some horses have more white hair, which creates a reflective look. Their hair is finer than the darker one which makes them look more elegant. 

c. What color will you see in Strawberry roan?

Think about red apples in the tree, the color makes you look at them like forever. Likewise color plays a crucial role in the case of strawberry roan horses. The reddish body color makes them lucrative and enhances their beauty millions of times.

D. How about their mane and tail?

The mane and tail of strawberry roan horses may have a few white hairs, but that does not cover their pinkish hair coat because of a little bit of roaning. Strawberry roan horses have lighter-colored manes and tails. Mane is usually darker than other body parts. 

The lighter mane and tail are termed as flaxen chestnut. Strawberry roans carry a genetic variant that causes the color of a lighter shade of chestnut. That's why people call them flaxen chestnut or creamy chestnut or flaxen with roan.  

Red Roan: A Richer Palette

Red roan are the ones with darker than strawberry roan. Roans that have rich chestnut background is termed red roans. 

The term ‘‘red roan’’ is used to cover dark chestnut roan and bay roan, but bay base colored roan now has its term bay roan. Let’s get a closer look at this equine beauty:

a. How does Red Roan’s base Coat look?

A red roan is basically a true roan but on a chestnut-colored coat. The exact shade of the roan depends on the underlying bay color, but you'll notice that the mane, tail, and lower legs are deep chestnut, and the body has a mix of reddish and white hairs. 

Typically, the head is more on the red side. In the past, people used to group strawberry roans with chestnut roans, and they'd just call them "red roans."Overall, there are dark-reddish brown coat patterns in their entire body, especially the lower leg portion.  

b. What is the body appearance of Red Roan?

  • Rich color: Strawberry roans are covered with pinkish body hair, like its name. Red roans have deeper, richer chestnut-colored hair compared to them.
  • White hair: While your horse arena may look lovely with strawberry roans, you’ll notice more white hair on red roans over their hair coat which creates a marbling effect that shines even brighter. 

c. What happens to their mane and tail?

After knowing strawberry roans, isn’t it easier to differentiate red ones from them?Let me tell you this straight, usually, you will see a red roan’s mane and tail can be typically black color if it has a bay undercoat. In the case of chestnut color, you’ll notice a darker brown color shade in their mane and tail.           

Beyond the Shades (Similarities and Differences)

Knowing red roans and strawberry roans gets interesting with some scientific facts. Though some of you can get confused by their color, they have biological differences and some similarities. You can consider the following things:

a. Is there any similarities between these two roans? 

  • Similarities: Both strawberry roan and red roan are caused by pigment variant genes. So, genetically they have the same roaning genes passed by their parents. 
  • Key difference: Here, the base coat makes all the difference. Strawberry roans have specifically chestnut genes, red roans have bay genes. Bay color may be hard for you to differentiate. You can check red points on your red roans for this. 

b. Do coat color have an impact on their health and temperament?

Roan genes are dominant. So, both horses carry dominant genes in them. But the hair coat difference between red roans and strawberry roans does not make any temperament issue.The base color is dictated by colored genes that is extension genes passed by both parents. 

When the gene is enabled to show black pigment, hair coat turns out black. If the gene is not enabled to show black pigment, hair coat turns out chestnut. So, a hair coat has nothing related to temperament. As long as you feed your horses a balanced nutrition, both the horses remain healthy. 

More for you:

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Conclusion

We have come to the lowdown of our discussion. Roan horses are welcomed widely for their special hair coat and unique look. This quality also makes them expensive in the equestrian world. Strawberry roan comes with its pink-white hair coat. 

Red roan comes with a dark-enriched reddish look. Their fancier and appealing hair coat can bring you a great fortune. 

The conversation can go on in the comment section, share which horse you find most attractive. You can also share this article with anyone concerned about red roan and strawberry roan.

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