We collected this type and/or produced them through our own breeding choices because we knew they were homozygous for the leopard complex gene. The proof is definitely in the results, all have produced.

These beautiful horses are from left to right:  Annandale's Eagle Feather, Annandale's Winter Fox and Annandale's Ghost Story.

     Tiger Horses are born with a variety of spotting patterns. Otherwise known as the  LP or Lp gene. These particular characteristics above have helped  us identify one type of homozygous horse. In other words, horses that guarantee spotted color production for their foals, and this is regardless of partner used to achieve the colors.  There are several pattern categories. All of them exoticy. We have also identified several other coat patterns that help to recognize homozygous Tiger Horses.
     The Lp gene is otherwise known as the leopard spotting coat patterning gene, or more commonly, "Appaloosa coloring."
     The horses on this page are what we call
Ghost Horses and represent our most valuable color producing stock. Other more exotic markings like the leopards, or spotted blankets, are the hallmark of our breed and some of them are also homozygous.  We call them Ghost Horses.    Ghosts because of their ethereal beauty, and because this spotting gene is revisiting us from an ancient extinct past.  The horses on this page are among our best resources for color production.  In the Appaloosa horse industry, horses with similar markings are called "Few Spots" but because the Tiger Horse is gaited, meaning it has a very special way of travelling and extremely quiet and smooth to ride, we prefer to call them "Ghosts."
     Tiger Horses are different from most Appaloosas because they are four-gaited and a lighter boned breed with flat muscling, and their own unique look-alike features.    Ghost Horses and Few Spots are homozygous for the Lp gene and come in several different base coat patterns.   The  base or background color is other than white, ie bay, black, chestnut etc. This is how the Lp gene works. A horse is born say a white body but also inherits a background color.  It is a strange way to describe how this patterning gene works and opinions differ as to which comes first, the white gene or the solid colored one.  The Lp gene appears to be a white gene although horses that inherit it also inherit mottled skin which is indicative of a mixing of genes.  When these patterns appear on a horse, there are no two exactly alike.  The 3 beautiful horses at the top of this page are registered  as black bay Ghost Horses.

(left) This type of minimal marking also  belongs to the Ghost Horse category above. Sometimes, as with the examples above, leg markings are more extensive but in order to truly qualify as a Ghost Horse, these markings must always be present.  If one should say, inherit a white sock or stocking, it would be indicative of the presence of the sabino gene, another different, white gene.

Below is a different category of homozygous horse and as with the group above, similar variations are expected.

The leopard spotted stallion on the right also belongs to the homozygous group above.  These are his hooves (above). Please note there are 2  different colors and "spots"  involved. The important pyramid shapes are black, while the overlying insignificant spots, are brown. These brown spots can confuse the observer as they overlay and mask the all important identifying "triangles" we need to see when identifying the homozygous horse.  This mischieveous gene presents itself in a variety of leg or body markings but beware of imposters which will never produce spotted foals.

     This is how we tell the true Ghost Horses from "impostors," or those that have inherited additional unwanted white genes.  All  true Ghost Horses have important symmetrically marked patterns on their legs. Sometimes they also inherited a copy of some other white gene, ie, a white sock, or stockings. Other than these unwanted patterns, all 4 legs should be marked similarly.        We have been able to categorize two types of Ghost Horse. Let's name the first group Type A. These are the Lp,  or "Leopard Ghosts."  Type B (below) are Rn, or "Snowcap Ghosts." Markings appear to be identical for both groups but there are subtle differences in how the base coats and white deposits intermingle, the common difference being clarity or definition of color transitions.  In Type A, these Ghosts, have crisp delineation between colors. You can easily see the sharp edges around spots or stripes while the roans (Type B), have feathering or smudged edges between the colors. 
      Hoof markings.  All Tiger Horses have striped or amber colored hooves.  These markings are unique to horses wearing the Lp or LpRn genes because in other breeds, amber hooves are only found beneath white socks or stockings.
     Now it can get a little confusing we know: We have helped you identify the two most obvious types of homozygous horse, but within each of these two types, are other individuals that may or may not be homozygous.
      In Type A we have Ghosts and Leopards but also
"near leopards."  Near Leopards have spotted blankets of varying sizes. Their front ends are largely solid in color or show very little roaning.  This third coat pattern may also be homozygous.  Ghosts and Leopards, are born with their markings and will not develop any new spots.  All 3 types do develop more roaning but only within the already inherited basecoat colorations.  In other words, unlike the roans, they do not change markings, they just roan in the non spotted areas.  Manes and tails in both types always change,  going from solid colored at birth, to striped and pure white upon maturity.

Compare this type to those (top of page.) You can see that these 3 have feathered edges fusing the two colors. Whereas the first group have good strong delineation and hard edges between colors.

These Snowcap Ghosts have large white blankets that rarely show any spots.  Like freshly fallen snow on a mountain top, their coloration is particularly lovely.   The leopard ghosts (Type A) will have from 1 to hundreds of spots, but Type B as a rule, do not.  Both types do roan in certain areas especially the head, neck and chest and as stated, the manes and tails almost always change in both types.  In Type B, (above left and center) we have Snowcap Ghosts and (far right) a Roan Ghost.  Leopards also number among this type (see below)

(left)   It can be difficult to know the difference between the leopard roan on the left and the Snowcaps above. Both areType B. The leopard roans can take up to 5 or more years to fully evolve into leopard spotted horses (see photos below). It is hard to believe that this foal on the left is the same horse as the three below.  He was born with a huge white blanket and striped hooves. No spots whatsoever. By the time he was a year old (bottom left) he had developed a considerable amount of spots.  (below center) You can see how the mane and tail are beginning to lighten in color and also the roaning around the neck is becoming less obvious and more spotted.  (below right) Fully mature at 5 years old, notice how very different he is from the month old photo on the left.  His mane and tail have whitened.  His spots are small and dainty indicating to us that he has inherited the purest version of the leopard complex gene but each spot has a feathered edge confirming that he is a Roan and belongs to Type B group.Roans have striated hooves. That is how we tell at birth, which ones may change and develop spots and which ones may not.

(above left) A leopard roan goes through his evolutionary changes from day 1.

The stripes you see on his hind legs will all but disappear in the roan patterning that has develped by his second year of age. center).

Now a handsome leopard, you might see how difficult it would be with 2 "leopards"standing side by side, to know which is which. The  mare to the right is a half sister to the roan above.  She is not a roan but a true leopard. Although heterzygous, the mare is a color producer.

Homozygous mare on the left.  Notice the 3 spots inside her blanket. Nice and crisp right? But notice the feathering as the white bleeds into her solid colored shoulder. This is not an uncommon combination as the roan gene is part and parcel of the Lp gene. She is Annandale's Bold Eagle and a full sister to Annandale's Eagle Feather (first foal at top left of page).  This filly is a Snowcap Ghost and will roan but only on the front end. Her blanket will never change but her mane and tail may turn white by age 3 to 7.

One of the most interesting features of the Ghosts is their amber colored hooves.  Only the leopard complex gene produces these beneath base coat colored markings.  Other breeds must have white socks or stockings to inherit amber hooves..







Visitors since Sept 12, 2003


This Web Site is maintained by Nice Touch Design.
Contact the
Web master for questions about this site. Page last updated February 2006