What Is A Blue Roan Horse? Colors & Breeds (With Pictures)

All You Need to Know About Blue Roan Horses

Horses come in all different sizes, shapes, and colors. Common horse coat colors include bay, chestnut, grey, and black; however, many horse colors are less common and more difficult to recognize. One less common horse coloring is blue roan.

What is a blue roan horse? Blue roan is a unique coat pattern that horses can have. In this particular coat pattern, horses will have a mixture of black and white hairs all over their body, making them appear greyish blue. Blue roans can often be mistaken for grey horses.

To produce a roan horse requires specific genetics that will, for the most part, guarantee a roan offspring. Roan horses are most often seen in western disciplines, and many western breeders will carefully select their stallions and mares to produce other roan horses. To get a complete rundown of roan horses, keep reading!

Defining Features of Blue Roan Horses

If you don’t know what to look for, it can be difficult to differentiate between a blue roan and a grey horse. Two horses may have the same exact shade of coloring, but one may be a blue roan while the other is a grey. In this section, I’ll share defining features of blue roan horses that you can look for to determine if the horse is truly blue roan. 

Did you know that grey horses change color over time?! To learn more, check out my article Dapple Grey Horses: Facts, Breeds, Origins, and Colors.

Black Base Coat

All blue roan horses have a black base boat. Any roan horse has an original base coat that has the roan gene applied. For red roans, the base color is chestnut; for bay roans, the base color is bay. One reason blue roans visually appear blue is the mixture of the white roaning hairs with the black coat.

A blue roan horse can change color over time. Most blue roans are born black or steel grey. As they age, more and more white hairs will mix among their black coat. Sometimes, a blue roan may appear black until about one or two years of age, which is when their roan coat will start coming in. 

Black Points

While there are rare exceptions, just about every blue roan horse will have black points. Their legs, heads, and faces will be black in color, while their bodies will be lightened with roan. While some grey horses will have black points as well, many greys will have white hooves and white socks that make it easier to differentiate.

Black Mane and Tail

Most blue roan horses will have black manes and tails. This, once again, comes from their original black base color. This can be an easy visual indication that a horse is a blue roan rather than a grey.  While at some point in their lives, grey horses will have black manes, as grey horses age, their coat color, mane, and tail color will lighten significantly until it looks white.

The Genetics

So, what creates a blue roan horse? Every roan horse has a genetic base color; this can be chestnut, bay, or black. In any roan horse, one parent may carry the base color gene while the other parent carries the roan gene. Sometimes, one parent will carry both a base color gene and a roan gene; however, the roan gene is dominant. This means that if at least one parent carries the roan gene, the offspring is more than likely to come out as a roan.

With blue roans specifically, they inherit both a recessive agouti allele, which determines the horse’s black base color and a dominant roan gene. 

Blue Roan Horse Breeds

Blue roan is a more rare color seen in the horse world; however, numerous horse breeds can have blue roan members. Here is a complete list of the most popular blue roan horse breeds:

Quarter Horse

Quarter horses are the most common horse breed with blue roan members, but this is largely due to the selective breeding of quarter horses to produce roan coloring. Many riders may opt for a blue roan horse that can stand out in the show arena. 

American Paint Horse

American Paint Horses are often recognized for their colorful splashy coats. When it comes to the genetics of a blue roan paint horse, a lot is going on! The horse’s genetics would have to include a base color of black with the dominant roan gene as well as any of the genes that create white markings on the horse’s body. 

Producing a blue roan paint horse is easier said than done. With so many different genetics mixing up, it’s never a 100% guarantee the offspring will come out as a blue roan paint. You’re also going to have to find a homozygous white pattern gene and breed to a homozygous roan. 

Mustang 

For horses with no selective breeding, mustangs tend to do a good job of producing roans. Since roan is a dominant gene, once it finds its way into many members of the same breed, it will keep popping up again! When you see pictures of the wild mustangs, there’s always bound to be a roan horse in there!

Percheron

Percherons are heavy draft horses that come in all different colors. You will most often see black or grey Percherons; however, the blue roan coloring is much more common in Percherons than it is in some other horse breeds. Percherons bred with Brabant horses, known for their red roan coat, will produce other roan horses. 

Tennessee Walking Horse

Tennessee Walking Horses are gaited horses with muscular bodies that come in all different shapes and sizes. Black Tennessee Walkers are often mistaken as Friesians due to their build and thick mane, and fetlock feathers. These horses are popular among western riders due to their endurance and comfortable gaits.

Tennessee Walkers are popular riding horses, especially among saddle seats and western riders. Roan Tennessee Walkers are not rare, and you’ll surely spot a blue roan Walker if you look long enough!

Missouri Foxtrotter

Missouri Foxtrotters are another gaited breed of horse with numerous roan members. Foxtrotters tend to be smaller and leaner than Tennessee Walkers but are just as popular in trail riding, endurance, ranch work, and saddle seat. I knew a blue roan Missouri Foxtrotter once, and she was beautiful!

Blue Roan Horse Names

Blue roan horses require a name as unique as the color of their coat. I always find naming a horse one of the hardest things to do; I always want to name an animal a cool original name that also fits their personality. Here are some name ideas for a blue roan horse:

Classy Blue Roan Horse Names

A unique coat coloring can get you noticed in the show ring. You have to appear classy and well put-together when the judge looks at you! Here are some classy name ideas for a blue roan horse:

Blue Barron

Griffin

M’Lady

Modrý (Czech for blue; pronounced modri)

Tempest

Pop Culture Blue Roan Horse Names

Everyone loves pop culture; a pop culture name makes it easy to recognize either physical or personality traits your horse may have. A pop culture name can also make others immediately draw a connotation of your pet. 

Gandalph (the wizard from Lord of the Rings)

Neytiri (the female protagonist from Avatar)

Saphira (the name of the dragon in Aragon, who was a bluish color)

Sokka (a character from Avatar: The Last Airbender)

Falkor (the creature from The Never-Ending Story)

Simple Blue Roan Horse Names

People often overlook simple names, but sometimes simple names are better. They’re easy to say, and you don’t need to sound them out for anyone! Here is a list of simple name ideas for a blue roan horse:

Blitz

Blue

Lightning

Freddy

Storm

How Much Do Blue Roan Horses Cost?

With how uncommon the blue roan coloring is in horses, it can increase the value of a horse that has this coat pattern. Besides coloring, the amount of training and the bloodlines will also play a big role in determining the price of the horse.

A blue roan horse can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000. One of the cheapest ways you may be able to get a blue roan horse is through a rescue or by bidding on a blue roan wild mustang through the Bureau of Land Management. While online bidding on mustangs starts at low as $25, it can quickly rise well into the thousands for horses with more exotic coloring.

 

Now that you know how you identify a blue roan horse start looking for them wherever you go. While more uncommon, I’ve still spotted plenty in my day! To learn more about other horse colors and the genetics behind them, check out these articles:

 

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Carmella Abel, Pro Horse Trainer

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My husband and I started Equine Helper to share what we’ve learned about owning and caring for horses. I’ve spent my whole life around horses, and I currently own a POA named Tucker. You can learn more here.

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