The new year will see a crop of thoroughbred foals coming into the world. Thoroughbreds have limited coat colours, compared with some other breeds, so it’s not unusual to see gangs of bay or brown foals in the springtime nursery paddocks. Although they may look the same from a distance, every foal is different and unique; each is born with distinguishing marks that never change, enabling individual identification throughout his life.
So, what makes a given horse unlike any other? We can’t take his fingerprints, obviously, but other features are just as useful. There are five basic horse colours: black, brown, bay, grey and chestnut (note that the technically correct spelling “chesnut” is insisted upon by many breed societies, such as the Suffolk Horse Society). All other colours are mixtures or combinations of these.