If you own a grey, the chances are that it looked slightly different during its younger years. The grey gene turns any horse into a paler version of its original colour.
The lightening process will progress at different rates in each horse, but they usually start at their darkest shade as a foal.
To see this gene in action, here’s a selection of horses who are barely recognisable from their formative years.
“This is my little World Horse Welfare horse, Norfolk Swing, better known as Dippy. I rehomed him five years ago as a youngster. I backed him when he was four and have since done everything with him. He hunts, events, team chases, does displays to represent the Charity, has competed internationally — you name it, he’s done it. He’s a jack of all trades, but especially likes eventing. We finished our second season with BE this year with our very first novice. He has also been crowned the Carleton Riding Clubs “Horse Of The Year” after representing the club at all levels and disciplines this year with great success. Despite a rough beginning, he is a superstar in every way and my absolute pride and joy — if only he would stop going white and save me some money on shampoo as he certainly wasn’t this colour when I took him on!” — Briony Gilks
“This is my 42” Shetland mare, Blendworth Mary Rose (named by breeder as she was born the year they raised the Mary Rose from the Solent), affectionately known as “Cheeky”. When I bought her, she was registered as a chestnut with flaxen mane and tail, star and a snip. She changed colour so often when she was young, you literally could have sold her several times a year to the same person! I broke Cheeky in myself, at the time I was working at a stud which kept hunt horses, and I would occasionally ride Cheeky while leading one of the big hunters if they were doing light exercise around the village! In her 30 years, my beloved Cheeky has taught numerous children the art of ‘stickability’, has been shown in-hand and under saddle, attended Pony Club with my girls and worked for a living for a time at a Riding Therapy Centre. She is now enjoying the quiet life in a lovely home for her retirement — she is a very special pony indeed. She is pictured as a weanling and with one of my girls” —Jo Restarick
“This is our racehorse, Mister Grez. He is a fantastic horse with a huge character and one of the yard favourites up at Dan Skelton’s yard where he’s in training. He’s just come back from injury but his last season saw him have 12 starts with five wins and five places. He’s a little grey superstar who absolutely loves racing! Here he is when we first brought him over from France around 2012 and again more recently” — Kirsty Payne
“This is Lucas, my eight-year old Percheron x warmblood, maxi cob. The first photo is the week I bought him at 11-months-old, and the second was taken last summer winning our first ever dressage competition. He doesn’t look like the same horse. Some of my non-horsey friends have asked if I sold the first one and bought another!” — Laura Bowdler
“I bought my horse Bruce as a five-year-old and have produced him from BE100 level to CCI* whereby he was ridden by my friend James Oakden who then established him at CCI2*. During this time he has changed from the black horse I bought to dapple and now fleabitten grey. He now at 12 and is my fun horse. I event him and do some working hunter classes” — Lisa Anderson
“This is my boy Regalo (Ali). I got him as a very dark four-year-old with a black dorsal stripe. He is an Andalusian x Arab pony and is now 17-years-old and he has finally gone completely grey. We’re out competing in BD dressage classes again at advanced medium level after I had my little girl four months ago and I’m aiming to do a prix st george test next year” — Michelle Wakefield
“This is my beloved mare Mhea. I got her when she was four and I was 13. Twenty years later and we are still together and going strong. She is Hanoverian x Arab/Connemara and the smartest, quirkiest and most loving little horse I’ve had the pleasure of being in the presence of. The in-hand picture is the day I got her and the other is how she looks now” — Pam Smith
“I bought Lilly eight years ago. She was in a bit of a sorry state, so although she wasnt exactly what I was looking for, I bought her thinking she was so beautiful, I would get her sorted out and then sell her. However, she very quickly became part of the family and is admired for her stunning looks by everyone. It’s such a shame they cant stay dappled though!” — Sarah Bray
“This is Coolda Cadet or Radley as he is known at home, a 15hh ISH. The first photo is Radley as a rising five-year-old and the other is of him now as a 15-year-old looking completely different! I used to show Radley and do hunter trials and hunting. Since I grew too old to show him I now just hunt where he’s on his 10th season with me. Unfortunately he’s got harder to keep clean as he’s got older!” — Samantha Parry