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Dorsal Stripes

Dun Morgan stallion "Zeke" shows off his dorsal stripe, courtesy of Nancy Nard, Ragtime Morgans, where he was standing on lease.

Ah, dorsal stripes.  Welcome to the land of ambiguity.

Dorsal = along the back (spine).

Stripe = clear, sharp-edged line, not an area of blurry shading.

While the stripe needs to have sharp edges, it does not need to be unbroken; also, it can have body color hairs mixed in, or dividing it into two or more stripes. Lots of photos, below.

NOTICE: the author of this web site has just seen a photo of a Breyer model horse with a dun stripe divided in an unrealistic way.
For examples of REAL dorsal stripes that divide, see the photos below (and anywhere else there are photos of live, dun horses).

p.s. the horse model in question is a pinto or paint, but that does not change the way dun is expressed; the white markings simply erase all color (pigment) in the skin and hair where they occur.  One person has posted a photo of this model here: http://community.webshots.com/photo/fullsize/2841048070058133436lOvcbl  This is not a realistic pattern. See real divided dorsal stripe photos below.

Some horses that have no markings other than a dorsal stripe are duns. 
This statement is based on their ability to pass on more "standard" dun markings,
and now, also, on their testing positive for dun.

Some horses are born with beautiful, dark, clear, sharp dorsal stripes
that go away within a few months or years and never return.

Some return occasionally.  Some even stay.

So far, horses with these last two kinds of dorsal stripes have not been accepted as "duns".  We hope to find out what they are, and how the trait is inherited, in each case that "breaks the rules" for dun.

Update: at least one palomino that has an "on & off", faint dorsal stripe,
and no leg barring, has tested positive for dun.

BELOW: these pictures of various duns' dorsal stripes should give the viewer a well-rounded concept of what the backs of dun horses can look like.  And not.

For the sake of clarity, we're only showing dorsal from horses that also have leg markings,
unless otherwise indicated.

cougar_dorsal_withers.jpg (224063 bytes)  

cougar_dorsal_rear.jpg (388952 bytes)

  kiger_cougar_r.jpg (249484 bytes)

This is Kiger Cougar, a famous dun Kiger Mustang who has won everything from reining to endurance, and now lives at Kentucky Horse Park as part of the Parade of Breeds.  He has nice leg barring. His dorsal stripe dwindles away to almost nothing over his withers, and appears split in two by body-color hairs over his rump.  Shown with his rider, Jennifer (list member).

Holly dorsal 11-03-031.JPG (96985 bytes)

dorsal stripe on Holly, owned by list member Mary Haas of Haas QH's

Ricki  left dorsal 8-3-031.JPG (101171 bytes)

dorsal stripe on Ricki, owned by list member Mary Haas of Haas QH's

Sassy dorsal striping 11-03-03.JPG (113802 bytes)

Sassy's dorsal stripe, owned by list member Mary Haas of Haas QH's

Chex dorsal 11-03-031.JPG (58098 bytes)  WesandChex11_08_04.jpg (39706 bytes)

Fuzzy foal dorsal stripe and mature version on Wesand Chex, previously owned by list member Mary Haas of Haas QH's

06 24 03 Morris31.jpg (21704 bytes)07 06 03 Morris Aalstreep.jpg (25882 bytes) 
07 13 03 Aalstreep2.jpg (20796 bytes)

These pics from list member Patricia Jansen in the Netherlands. It appears that this horse's dark, dorsal stripe hairs shed or grow in at a different rate than its other hairs!

Shoulder_and_dorsal.jpg (408135 bytes)

Marjena Bass' dun QH stallion, Go Copper Glo.  Note unusual "break" or "zig" in dorsal.

Honey.JPG (24723 bytes)Honey dorsal1.JPG (169131 bytes) Honey dorsal21.JPG (59935 bytes) 

This filly, Honey, is being considered for purchase by list member Mary Haas.  It appears to me that she is a flaxen red dun, but there is some disagreement about this.  She is said not to have any leg markings; I think this might change when she gets her glossy, summer coat.

 sierra3.jpg (18437 bytes) sierra1.jpg (9198 bytes) sierra4.jpg (10349 bytes)
Click these pics to see actual size.

This young red dun mare has an amazingly dark dorsal stripe.  Wonder what color she would have been without the dun gene?  For sale by Sally Creger.

BluBearyChex_Revback.JPG (64457 bytes)BluBearyChex_Revleft1.jpg (29312 bytes)
"2003 'Rev' grullo/roan colt 88-89% NFQHA  He has a triple dorsal, lots of striping on his legs, neck and shoulders and cob webbing on his forhead.  Sire: Nitros Revenue, a grullo Driftwood/Poco Bueno bred horse Dam: Blu Beary Chex (grullo/roan)"   FOR SALE!

Blu Beary Chex, owned by Pam of Bearcat Ranch.

Look at the incredible markings on this colt, including a TRIPLE AND TRIPLE WIDE DORSAL STRIPE!  It is believed by some that this effect is caused by extreme "fishboning", the lines that come out perpendicular to the dorsal stripe on a strongly-marked horse.

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2010 Barbara A. Kostelnik