It’s always a pleasure when I get to pay a visit to the fillies and readers at Petticoats and Pistols, since it’s the best western blog out there!

Like most of us of a certain age <ahem!> I spent my Saturday mornings watching the cowboys on TV, and I noticed something about most of them—they had horses that weren’t just…brown. No, the Lone Ranger had his white horse, Silver, Hopalong Cassidy had Topper, another white horse, Roy Rogers had his beautiful palomino, Trigger, the Cisco Kid had his splashy black and white pinto, Diablo. The Lone Ranger’s sidekick Tonto also had a brown and white pinto, Scout.
Going back further in western lore, Zorro had his dramatic black stallion, Tornado. Even Gene Autry’s horse Champion had a lovely flaxen mane and tail.


And what did the outlaws ride? Brown, nondescript horses, almost always.

Horse color is fascinating to me, and it’s important to get it right. Nothing knocks me out of a story faster than to read that a horse is “brown” but has a black mane and tail. No, that’s a bay. Neither can a golden-colored horse with a black mane and tail be considered a palomino—that’s a dun, or as some would call it, a buckskin. (There is some disagreement over whether yellow horses without black manes and tails are duns or buckskins.) Among duns there are zebra duns (with a dark stripe going across the shoulders and down the back, yellow duns, claybank duns, red duns, lilac and more. Gray isn’t merely gray, but can be dappled, flea-bitten (with tiny dark spots), or grullo. And it makes a difference what part of the country or world you’re in, too. A chestnut (light brown, sometimes with a lighter mane and tail) would likely be called a sorrel out west, and there are a myriad of specific variations according to how dark the brown is on the body and mane and tail. A paint or pinto would be a piebald or skewbald in England, depending on whether it’s black and white or brown and white. A paint horse can be an overo or a tobiano, depending on the pattern of the white. Roans can be blue, strawberry, seal and more.

Bewildering, yes, and I can’t begin to cover the subject completely. A discussion of breeds is a subject for another blog, if that hasn’t already been done. I’d like to share a book that helped me make sense of it all—HORSE COLOR, A COMPLETE GUIDE TO HORSE COAT COLORS, by D. Phillip Sponenberg and Bonnie V. Beaver. It’s available on Amazon if you’re interested.

Ever since I’ve started writing historicals, it’s been very clear to me that a particular horse figured in my hero’s story, it had to be some special color. In my May Love Inspired Historical, HILL COUNTRY CATTLEMAN, sixth in the “Brides of Simpson Creek” series, horses are featured very prominently in the book. My hero, Raleigh Masterson, first catches my aristocratic English heroine Violet Brookfield’s eye riding on the back of a beautiful blue roan stallion on Main Street of Simpson Creek. Learning that the lovely woman is an accomplished equestrienne and is in need of a mount during her visit to the Texas Hill Country, he loans her a pinto mare, Lady.

Naturally, during the course of the story, Raleigh and Violet fall in love—but how can a Texas cowboy and former trail boss hope to be worthy of the daughter of an viscount, especially when she’s got a beau back home in jolly old England who’s promised to give her her own hunter and start a stud of racehorses? Raleigh’s got nothing, not even his own ranch. But then an endurance race is proposed to put Simpson Creek on the map for horse racing. Contestants are to change horses halfway through the demanding course over hilly terrain. The prize will be a prime piece of San Saba County ranchland. Voilà—the chance for Raleigh to feel worthy of his English lady. You’ll have to read the book to find out how the race went, as one lucky commenter will do, for I’m giving away a copy of the book, of course. And for those who’d like to read the prologue to this story that didn’t make it into the book because of word count restrictions, please visit my website at www.lauriekingery.com

My thanks to Wikimediacommons.org for the horse pictures, and again to the fillies for letting me come visit.

Laurie Kingery

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39 thoughts on “A HORSE OF ANOTHER COLOR by Laurie Kingery”

  1. Oh my, I’m the first? Good morning and thank you for your post regarding the color of horses Laurie. I must admit I have never really known any of the information you presented before. I knew what a palomino was and a dappled gray horse (my favorite by the way) but all the rest is new to me. I love learning new things. 🙂

    I would love to be entered into your giveaway.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  2. Hi Laurie! I never noticed that about heroes and horses of a different color. Didn’t Little Joe on Bonanza ride a pinto? Thanks for the fun post and welcome back to P&P. It’s always a joy to have you!

  3. Horses in any story get me instantly intrigued to read the book. Especially historical westerns… I must admit I am attracted to those big Bay coloured horses.. And a grey horse my grandfather always told me brought you luck.


  4. I love horses and thanks for talking about all the different colors ! I raise APHA paint horses! My stallion is a unique Sorrel Overo! People are just amazed how beautiful he is especially when he is clean! I wish I could post a picture! If you go to my FB page you can see him as my profile picture! Out of 12 babies, I finally got one that looks just like him. My stallion is Zip and the foal is Vegas! I also have another one but not as loud in color who is named Scout! I named him after Tontos horse!I would love to read your book! Thanks for the giveaway!

  5. Good morning, Laurie. Welcome to the Junction. What a timely post, what with the running of the Kentucky Derby today. I don’t usually pay attention to the color of the horse in a book, but now I will!!!

  6. Thanks for the info. I’m totally ignorant about horses. My neighbor in Wisconsin has two Cydesdales that he shows and breeds. Handsome, huge, beautiful are words that I use to describe them.

  7. Thanks for varying descriptions, Laurie. Horses are amazing animals.

    I watched Hidalgo recently and the same thing struck me, that of all the horses in the race, Hidalgo was totally different, not just because he was a mustang, but different in color. It seems like this would be a deliberate choice for movie making, so that the star and/or the star’s horse would stand out while the cameras are rolling.

    And, since your hero and his horse are the star…well, he needs a special horse to stand out! 🙂

  8. Enjoyed reading the comments. I love horses and plan to watch the Kentucky Derby today. I base my “winner” on the prettiest one in the lineup.
    I remember the early cowboy heroes and their horses. I even recall that their sidekicks always rode a horse that wasn’t overly pretty and often they rode mules. Burros, aayone?

  9. Thanks for the informative post, Laurie. Horses, no matter what color, are magnificent animals.
    And HILL COUNTRY GENTLEMAN sounds like a great story. Your winner is going to be very lucky.

  10. I really enjoyed reading this post. I love reading westerns of all sorts and when I read I like to create a mental movie. All of this information will enable me to create the horse image in a much more detailed way!

    I loved the chatty style that you used to teach me about such a complicated subject.

    Thank you!

  11. LOve horses… I need to brush up on the types and their coloring though… thank you so much for sharing with us… beautiful pics! 🙂

  12. Hi Cindy W.–thanks for being the first to comment! Glad you enjoyed learning about horse color. I like learning new things, too.
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

  13. Hi Vicki,
    Gee, I’d forgotten about Little Joe’s horse. Yes, I think it was a pinto. Thanks for inviting me to visit here. It’s always a joy.

  14. Hi Kathleen, I’ve got nothing against bays. My hero in the first Simpson Creek book, MAIL ORDER COWBOY, rides one. They’re all pretty to me.:) Thanks for commenting!
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

  15. Hi Kim,
    Your stallion must be gorgeous! I love paint horses. I will go to your FB page as soon as I leave P & P. Thanks for commenting.
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

  16. Hi Pam,
    I agree with you about Hidalgo. Such a pretty horse! Viggo Mortenson wasn’t too ugly either. I could not have released him at the end–the horse, I mean, but maybe not Viggo either. 🙂
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

  17. Hi Joye,
    Good observation about the sidekick’s horse. I’ll be on the way to the “other job” during the Derby, but I may be able to catch the end of it in the breakroom before I start. Thanks for commenting.
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

  18. Hi Anon 1001,
    I agree–horses are beautiful. I went through a totally horse-crazy stage as a preteen–I’m sure a lot of us did. Thanks for commenting.
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

  19. Elizabeth Lane, thanks! I hope my readers do enjoy HILL COUNTRY CATTLEMAN. The horse parts especially were fun to write. 🙂
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

  20. Hi Stephanie, Glad you enjoyed my blog post. There wasn’t space enough for all the information that is in the horse color book I mentioned–it really is much more complex than I’d imagined. I bought the book because I wanted to picture a horse color that was mentioned in another historical–grullo, but it wasn’t explained. (It’s a gray). There are soooo many variations. Thanks for commenting.
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

  21. Hi Colleen, glad you enjoyed the pictures. Wikimedia Commons is my new best friend for royalty-free pictures for blog posts. 🙂 I was lucky to find some good ones on there.
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

  22. Kim Cornwell, PS, I went to Facebook to see your horse, but which Kim Cornwell are you on there? There are several! If I had to guess, it’s the one with the Ky. Derby picture as your profile, yes? 🙂
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

  23. We used to have a stallion my husband called a “blood bay”. His coat glistened in the sunlight–a beautiful horse. Our bay gelding wasn’t nearly as red, more brown, but he was a good horse, too. I, too, have wondered about “grulla” after reading it in a book. Someone explained it to me as like a buckskin but gray. I still don’t know for sure what it looks like.

  24. I love horses, always have always will! I used to own Gray Arab named Sagr and yes I got the name from The Black Stallion Returns! Thanks such an interesting piece on horse color!

  25. Laurie G., those Clydesdales are huge! I love the ads on TV advertising the beer–can’t think of the brand right now?
    Thanks for commenting.
    blessings, Laurie Kingery

  26. Thanks for the quick lesson on horse colors. It is confusing for those of us who know little about them. At one time I checked on draft horses because my daughter was working with Belgians, but that was a while ago and I have forgotten more than I remember. If a horse is referred to in a book and I am not sure what it is, I’ll often look it up.

    I am heading over to your site to read the prologue. I hope HILL COUNTRY CATTLEMAN does well. It sounds good.

  27. Just finished the prologue and look forward to reading “the rest of the story.” I noticed you used to write as Laurie Grant, so I checked “her” site. I read and enjoyed many of those books. Whether inspirational historical or regular historical, I do enjoy your writing.
    Again, best of luck with your new book.

  28. Hello laurie. Interesting piece on horses. I had a big Roan. Black mane and tail. Named Chochise.. I always like the pintos when I was growing up. I grew up watching all of the shows you mentioned. Now in my older age, have finally gotten several new western stations given me from a daughter. Can watch as many as I want. All of the old ones. Even the Lone Ranger and Tom Mix and Gene Autry. I love it. like the Palomino with the dark line all of the way down his back. Forget what they told me it was. Your book sounds good and I’m ready to win it. 🙂 Please put my name in. MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

  29. Hilltop Farm Wife, thanks for commenting. I think a “blood bay” is the prettiest bay. I remember reading THE BLOOD BAY COLT as a horse-crazy girl. He was the son of THE BLACK STALLION, as I recall.
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

  30. Hi Maxie,
    Your Cochise sounds like a very pretty horse. Congrats on winning my book! I’ll be contacting you to get your snail mail address. Hope you enjoy it!
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

  31. Thanks for all the comments! This is my favorite blog to guest at! Thanks, Fillies, and especially Vicki Bylin who invited me.
    I hope everyone has been having a fabulous weekend.
    Happy reading and Happy Trails,
    Laurie Kingery

  32. Hi Jennifer Tipton,
    Didn’t mean not to thank you for your comment. My computer is a little ornery about playing nice with the P & P server. But I wanted to say I hadn’t remembered about the gray Arab in the Farley book. Love Arabs!
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

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