Which color suits my horse?

Welche Farbe steht meinem Islandpferd?

We offer you a wide range of colors for cooler rugs, rain rugs and saddle pads. With so many shades to choose from, you may find it difficult to find exactly the right color for your horse. That's why we've broken down some of the parameters you can use to find the perfect color for your horse. However, we emphasize that there is no right or wrong. You can always follow your heart and choose the color you like best. What we offer here is only intended as a small guide.

Author: Marie-Theres Conen, color explanations by Jessica Terlinde

How do I determine the color of a horse?

The determination of a horse's coat color is based on various characteristics that can be observed from the coat and other external features.

Base color in shorthair: In horses, shorthair refers to the coat on the horse's body. This hair is usually short and dense. It covers the back, flanks, belly and other parts of the horse's body. The shorthair protects the skin and regulates the horse's body temperature.

Mane and tail: The longhair comprises the mane and tail. The color of the longhair may differ from that of the shorthair. 

Nuances and patterns: There are variations within each base color. For example, foxes can have different shades of red, from light to dark. Some horses also have patterns like piebald that complement the base color. Then there are lightened colors such as dun or cream genetic colors.

Eye color: Some horses also have specific eye colors or skin pigmentation that can correlate with their coloring. The most common eye color in horses is dark brown. This is found in most breeds and occurs regardless of coat color.

For example, horses with the cream gene have amber eyes.

 Blue eyes are less common in horses and usually occur in certain pinto patterns or some horses with gray genetics.

Zwei Isländer im Winter mit Abschwitzdecke
The two basic colors - chestnut and black

These are the colors of the Icelandic horse

The base colors: The colors are created by pigments in the hair. The basic color of a horse is determined by the pigments produced by its body. Red and black pigments can be produced.

In a color code, the ability to produce red pigments is represented as a small "e" (red factor), while the ability to produce black pigments is indicated by the capital "E". Black dominates the red factor, so that if the large "E" is present, the red fox color is replaced by the dark pigment.

Another gene, agouti, influences the production of black pigments in the coat and leads to a brown coloration of the body, even in a black horse. Due to different regulations for pigment production, the mane and tail retain their black color even with the agouti gene (A).

Black: Black coat and black longhair, with no other color nuances.

Chestnut: The different variations of chestnut differ mainly in the intensity and depth of the reddish-brown color of their coat:

  • Regular chestnut This is the standard variation of the fox. The shorthair is a warm shade of red, with the mane and tail of a similar color or slightly lighter.

  • Dark (Liver) chestnut: In contrast to the normal chestnut, the dark chestnut is more intense and deeper in its red coloring and can appear almost brown. The mane and tail are a darker shade.

  • Light chestnut (Sorrel): The light chestnut has almost white longhair, which offers a strong contrast to the main color of the horse.

  • Red chestnut: Compared to the normal chestnut, the red chestnut is more intense and can resemble the appearance of shiny mahogany or copper in its coloring. Longhair and shorthair have the same color.

These different shades of fox vary in their color depth and intensity. There can be subtle to striking differences in the reddish tint of the coat as well as in the mane and tail, which characterize the respective variant of the fox.

Brown: Body in light to black-brown, dark legs and black longhair.

Bay: Light to black-brown body, dark legs and black longhair.

Pferd im Sonnenuntergang
Chestnuts are available in many different shades

Dun genes: These horses each have a lighter base color and an dorsal stripe

  • Grey Dun
  • Chestnut dun
  • Bay dun

Cream genes: If a foal inherits the cream gene, its coat will be lightened. If the foal inherits a copy of the cream allele from both parents, it receives a "double" lightening. The result is Cremellos, Perlinos and Smokey Creams, which not only have light-colored coats but also light-colored eyes.

  • Smoky black: Lightened black horse, brownish to golden, mane and legs remain black.
  • Palomino: Lightened chestnut, base color lightened, light to white longhair.
  • Buckskin: Lightened bay, base color lightened, darker legs and longhair.

Silver dapple: The silver gene, also known as the "wind color gene", can lighten the base color of the horse's coat. It does not affect the red color pigment, but only the black pigmented areas, which appear lighter.

It is a mutation at the silver locus (Pmel17), which is represented by the Z gene. The inheritance is autosomal dominant, so that one copy of the gene is sufficient to show the phenotype.

The silver gene causes the black mane of bay horses to turn white and the black coat of black horses to turn chocolate brown with light-colored longhair.

Gray: Depigmentation of the coat, begins at foal age, the horse turns white over time.

Pinto: Pinto patterns occur with every base color. A distinction is made here between tobiano and splashed white pinto.

  • Tobiano: Tobiano is a pinto pattern that is caused by a specific gene and usually produces larger, clearly defined white patches on a darker base color.
  • Splashed White:  Also often called helmeted pinto, this is a special form of pinto pattern in horses. This pattern is characterized by large, irregular white markings on the horse's body.

    Typically, a horse with splash gen will have large white areas on the face that often look as if the horse has been dipped in paint, with the paint ending up to a certain line on the legs or body. These white areas often include the face, head and sometimes the belly area.


Another characteristic of helmeted piebalds is that they often have blue eyes and the white areas contrast with the main color of the horse.
Fuchschecke traegt Satteldecke aus Wolle in Weinrot
Pintoes come in all colors

How do I find the color that suits my horse best?

Icelandic horses are majestic creatures, and their natural beauty can be accentuated by the right color choice of equipment and accessories. But which color suits your beloved horse best? Let's dive into the world of color together and discover the basics and the art of choosing the right color for your Icelandic horse.

First things first: The following rules are just rules of thumb to help you choose the right color and understand why some colors look better than others.

Basically: Your favorite color will always look beautiful on your horse. In our opinion, there are no prohibitions, no instructions that any color should never be allowed on a particular horse. The most important thing is that the rug makes you happy!

Of course, there is a difference between the color choice of Cooler Rugs, which you only have on the horse for a short time, and Saddle Pads. With saddle pads, we can understand why you might want to play it safe and choose a more neutral color.

Take a look in your closet: the colors you wear most often for riding are a good choice for a saddle cloth, so you can always be sure that everything matches. When it comes to sweat rugs, however, we think you should go for it and choose the color that you like the most.

Islandpferd trägt Abschwitzdecke aus Wolle in Pink
The Anthracite|Pink wool blanket is always fun

Afraid of pink and blush tones?

What we don't think much of are sexist prejudices that forbid certain genders from wearing a color. That's just nonsense. While some people think that pink and rose are not suitable for geldings and stallions, others go so far as to say that even red, wine red and purple are taboo for male horses.

We often meet female customers whose absolute favorite color is pink, but who are afraid to buy such a rug because it could be misinterpreted.

 Assigning colors to certain genders is a social convention and not a natural fact. Historically, certain colors have been associated with a certain gender in different cultures. For example, in some Western cultures, pink was long considered a "girl's color", while blue was considered a "boy's color".

The reasons for these classifications are socially and culturally determined. They are based on historical trends, fashions and marketing strategies that have evolved over time. These classifications are by no means set in stone and have changed throughout history.

It is important to understand that colors themselves have no inherent gender-specific characteristics. Colors are visual stimuli that can be interpreted individually and culturally in different ways.

Islaender traegt nachhaltige Highneck Wolldecke in Grau mit Rosa
A beautiful accent in light pink

The choice of colors should reflect personal preferences and individual expressions and not be limited by traditional gender stereotypes. It's important to be open to diversity and different interpretations of colors without limiting them to gender roles.

So please point out to your fellow riders that they can save their comment "Poor thing, he has to wear pink". Horses don't know our human gender stereotypes, they can't even see the colors. Today, we should be above worrying that a color might look "gay". Is that a bad thing? The pejorative wording suggests so. Color is not an indicator of sexuality, and offensive remarks of this nature no longer fit our times. 

So, if you don't like pink and rose, that's perfectly okay. But if you love the colors, please go for it. You paid the money for the blanket, it should make you happy! Don't worry about what others say!

If you follow these rules, your horse will always look great:

Color theory is a fascinating field that deals with the properties, combination and effect of colors. Here are our guidelines on how to classify colors. The best way to decide which color looks best on whom is to follow the color classification systems.

We think it's best when the rider's outfit and the horse's outfit go together.

Warm vs. cool: This classification is based on the visual effect of colors. 

Warm colors such as red, orange and yellow create a feeling of warmth, liveliness and energy.

Cool colors such as blue, green and violet have a calming, relaxing effect. 

Within color tones, you can also distinguish between warmth, e.g. warm and cool blue. This means that if we start from a red, the more yellow it contains, the warmer it becomes, and the more blue it contains, the cooler it becomes.

Saturated vs. Muted: Saturation refers to the purity and intensity of a color. A highly saturated color is pure and bright, while a less saturated color is calmer and lighter. An example of muted colors are pastels.

Color families (tone on tone): "Tone on tone" means working with colors that are close to each other or have similar color nuances. Different shades or tones of one color are used to create a subtle, harmonious and cohesive look. Tone-on-tone work creates subtle, harmonious and calm visual results.

Contrasts: This system looks at the relationship between different colors. High-contrast work is the use of colors that are very different from each other.

This involves combining colors that are either opposite each other on the color wheel (complementary colors) or simply very different from each other, whether in brightness, saturation or hue. High-contrast work attracts attention and has a stronger visual impact.

Islandpferd im Gallop trägt Satteldecke aus Wolle in Rot Blau
The red of the saddle pad matches the chestnut perfectly and the blue fish leather piping adds contrast.

What does this mean for my horse?

If you classify your horse correctly, you can more easily find the colors that look good on him. Warm colors go with warm colors and cool colors with cool colors. Saturated coat colors look good with saturated blanket colors. And lightened colors like dun and cream-gene colors look best in pastels.

For riders who prefer the neutral look, it's a good idea to accompany their horse's coat color with tone-on-tone shades. While the bold ones prefer to work with contrasts, for example by putting a chestnut in a bright blue blanket.

Here is a brief classification:

Warm toned coat colors

Cool toned coat colors

Coat colors sorted by saturation level:

The less saturated a coat color is, the better it looks in pastel shades. 

Do color contrasts suit my horse?

If you are considering buying your horse a rug that has strong contrasts in itself, such as blue fleece and red tabs, then it is worth considering whether your horse has a lot of contrast in its coat color.

Horses with shorthair and longhair of the same color can look extremely good in it. This would be black, gray, chestnut, dark bay, for example.

Horses whose coats and manes have a great contrast tend to look better in single-colored blanket models. This naturally includes all pintoes, bay, light chestnuts, bukskin, etc.

Many of our rugs contain at least one shade that reflects the color of the horse. So you can pick up the beige of the Velcro flaps to reflect the blonde mane of your chestnut, or the gold of the edging to accentuate the light strands of your black horse. Or use the grey-brown of the fabric to pick up the color of your dun's coat. Add the purple tabs for a harmonious finishing touch.

Fellfarben im Fokus: Passende Farb-Matches für dein Pferd


The world of color offers a rich spectrum to enhance the natural beauty of your horse. Whether it's a warm shade of brown, a vibrant red or a deep black, each color tells a story and accentuates the uniqueness of your faithful companion. Choosing the right sweat rug is like painting a masterpiece - a way to express your horse's personality and style.

Let yourself be inspired by the colors and find the blanket that not only fits perfectly, but also underlines the bond with your horse. Because in the end, it's not just the color, but the connection and the adventures you experience together that make the true sparkle in your horse's eyes.

Welche Farbe steht meinem Islandpferd?
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