The Most Common Brown Horse Breeds
Horses come in many colors and patterns, but some of the most common horse colors can be described as brown. If you have always wanted a brown horse, you won’t have to look far, as this term can be used to describe one of the most common horse colors known as “bay.”
What are some of the horse breeds that have brown coats? Most breed registries allow for many different colors, but some of the breeds that most commonly come in shades of brown are:
- American Quarter Horse
- American Saddlebred
- Dutch Warmblood
- Kentucky Mountain Horse
- Missouri Fox Trotter
- Tennessee Walking Horse
- Rocky Mountain Horse
- Paso Fino
Many of these breeds are colorful and have members that range from black and grey to chestnut and bay. Depending on the shade of the coat, some brown horses can appear closer to black or red. Keep reading to learn more about these brown horse breeds!
Brown Horse Breeds: American Quarter Horse
The Quarter Horse is the quintessential ranch horse, and the most common color found in Quarter Horses is chestnut or sorrel. Quarter Horses aren’t limited to chestnut, however, as they are registerable under almost every solid color. They also come in bay, or “brown,” as well as black, buckskin, palomino, gray, dun, and roan.
Since the Quarter Horse is the most popular horse breed in America, it’s relatively easy to find a brown Quarter Horse in any part of the country. If you’re interested in the ultimate ranch horse, visit my article Ranch Horse Breeds: 10 Best Working & Riding Ranch Breeds.
Brown Horse Breeds: Morgan
Morgans are known for their agility, endurance, and flair, being used widely in English and Western disciplines. Morgans come in a variety of different colors, but the three most commonly found are bay, black, and chestnut. Morgan horses can also come in palomino, gray, roan, dun, and buckskin. These horses are stocky and hardy and can excel in the hunter ring just as well as in saddle seat competitions or ranch work.
Brown Horse Breeds: American Saddlebred
Known as “the horse America made,” the American Saddlebred was used extensively in the military during the Civil War and is largely used today in saddle seat and carriage driving. These spirited horses are known for their floating movements and athletic build. Saddlebreds can come in any solid color but are mostly found in bay, or brown.
Brown Horse Breeds: Dutch Warmblood
Known for its prowess in dressage and show jumping, the Dutch Warmblood is a large, athletic horse that originated in the Netherlands. Dutch Warmbloods are commonly found in bay, black, and chestnut but can also come in gray. Their breeding has led them to become athletic horses competing at the top levels of their events. Dutch Warmbloods are regularly imported to the United States as competition horses and to assist in breeding programs.
Brown Horse Breeds: Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse
The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse was developed in Kentucky with the intention of creating a horse that was strong enough to work on the farm but light enough to be used as a comfortable mount. These horses are commonly found in chestnut and bay but can be registered in any solid color. The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse is a gaited horse breed distinguished by their special four-beat gait known as an “amble” or “rack.” It makes them extremely smooth to ride!
Brown Horse Breeds: Missouri Fox Trotter
The Missouri Fox Trotter was developed in the 19th century in the Ozarks. This breed was created as a ranch horse, but due to its smooth ambling gaits like the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse, it is primarily used as a trail riding horse today. Missouri Fox Trotters come in any color, solid and pinto, and are commonly found in bay and chestnut.
Brown Horse Breeds: Tennessee Walking Horse
The Tennessee Walking Horse is the third gaited horse on our list; these horses have a long history in performance showing. They are athletic and are known for their endurance, and today are used mainly in saddle-seat events and in trail riding. Tennessee Walking Horses are commonly found in bay, black, and chestnut. They can also be found in colors caused by the dilution gene, like dun and champagne, and in the pinto patterns overo, sabino, and tobiano.
Brown Horse Breeds: Thoroughbred
The Thoroughbred has been the king of the racetrack since its origination in the 1700s. While developed in England, their largest population is now found in the states – particularly in Kentucky, Florida, and California. These horses are most commonly found in bay, chestnut, black, and gray; however, the overwhelming majority of Thoroughbreds will have a brown or bay coat. Outside of racing, Thoroughbreds are popular in many English riding disciplines, from eventing and dressage to the hunter jumpers and equitation arena.
While young Thoroughbreds with promising racing or breeding careers can be sold for millions of dollars, others retired from the track can be bought for under $1,000. To learn more about the cheapest horse breeds in America, visit my article Cheap Horses: 10 Cheap Breeds & Where to Get Them.
Brown Horse Breeds: Rocky Mountain Horse
The Rocky Mountain Horse is another gaited breed used on the ranch and the trails. This breed was developed in Eastern Kentucky in the Appalachian Mountains. While a horse of this breed can be registered under any solid color, the preferred color is a base coat referred to as “chocolate” with a flaxen (blonde) mane and tail. The lighter mane and tail against the darker body make these horses easily recognizable and eye-catching.
Brown Horse Breeds: Paso Fino
The Paso Fino is known as the “smoothest riding horse in the world” and can be considered the luxury sedan of the equine world. The origins of this breed are traced back to the time of the Spanish conquistadors landing in South America.
This is a naturally gaited breed, and they are commonly used in endurance and trail riding. They can be found competing in breed-specific shows or all-breed events. Paso Finos can be registered under any solid coloring and are most commonly found in chestnut and bay. They can also be registered with pinto markings.
What Is The Color “Brown” Called In Horses?
You won’t often hear a horse described as “brown” in competitions or on registration paperwork. That’s because horses come in a wide range of coloring, and different terms are used to describe each color’s specifics. Most horses that can be described as brown are known as “bay.”
Bay is one of the most common colors of horses. These horses have brown bodies with black manes, tails, and lower legs. The body of a bay can be a lighter reddish-brown, a medium reddish-brown, called a “blood bay,” or a very dark brown known as “dark bay” or “mahogany bay.” The darker bay horses are sometimes referred to as “seal-brown” but can also be mistaken for black due to the limited contrast between the base coat and the black points on their face and legs.
Another very common horse color is chestnut. Chestnuts are more red than brown, and like bays, that base color can range from a very light red to dark, rich mahogany. What differentiates chestnuts from bays is the lack of black points. A chestnut will have a mane and tail of similar or lighter coloring to its body. Light chestnuts are often called “sorrels,” while darker chestnuts are sometimes described as “liver chestnuts.”
Buckskin & Dun Horses
Without getting into the nitty-gritty of dilution genes, some colors called buckskin and dun can appear brown in horses with a darker base coat. Both duns and buckskins will have coats that appear tan or almost yellow. These horses have black manes, tails, and legs.
All of that said, some breed registries do formally recognize “brown” as its own distinct color – the American Quarter Horse registry is one of them. However, this is not as well-known in the equine world outside of breeders, so you will often hear the terms “bay” and “chestnut” among equestrians.
When looking at a buckskin or dun horse, you may think they look more golden than brown. To learn more about the most popular golden horse breeds, visit my article Golden Horse Breeds: 10 Horse Breeds With Gold Coats.
Almost All Horse Breeds Come In “Brown”
Knowing that the term brown can encompass a number of different recognized horse colors, including bay, chestnut, dun, and buckskin, it is easy to see how almost any breed can produce a “brown” horse. Coupling this with the fact that so many mixed-breed horses are available, you won’t have to look long or far if you have your heart set on a brown horse.
To learn more about bay horses, visit my article What is a Bay Horse? Pictures & Fun Facts.