Black Horses: All About The Color

Black horses are of the most beautiful horses in the world and there are many breeds that carry this color in their genetics. What makes a horse considered black versus dark bay? And are these horses rare?

What Are Black Horses?

A black coat is one of the main base coat colors found in horses. Black horses are also the base color for blue roans and some grey horses. Some breeds, such as the Friesian horse, nearly always come in black. Black is one of the hardest colors to identify because of its constant confusion with bay.

Are There Black Roans?

Yes, there are in fact black roans, only the proper term for the black roan is actually blue roan. This is because when the black hairs of the horse’s coat mix with the white hairs from roaning, the coat appears to be blue-gray in color.

Blue roans still keep their black mane, tail, legs, and head from their birth, but their body becomes blue.

To read more on roan horses click here!

What Makes A Horse Truly Black?

Horses are considered truly black if they have an entirely black coat. Often, black horses are confused with dark bay and black bay horses because these bays are dark enough to be confused as black.

Black horses must not have any brown hairs in their coat at all. If there are brown hairs in the coat, the horse is automatically considered bay. The only exception to this is if the horse has sun-bleached or sweat bleached patches in its coat. This happened to one of the Thoroughbreds I used to ride with a friend. Because the summers got so incredibly hot, the black horse, Rio, had sun-bleached and sweat bleached Horses, to be considered black must have a black mane and tail. The only exception to this would be sun bleaching to their mane and tail causing orange-brown parts to appear.

Can Black Horses Have White Markings?

Yes, black horses can have white markings on their legs and faces. Even if a horse has white markings doesn’t mean that it can’t be considered black. Chestnuts, bays, and even palominos and buckskins can have white markings as well.

Black horses can have any of the known leg and facial markings found in horses. They can even be pinto! A pinto black horse is known as a piebald. Piebald horses can be overo, tovero, and tobiano, but they must be truly black and white to be considered piebald.

Are Black Horses Common?

No, black horses are relatively uncommon horses to see. Most horses that appear to be black are actually bay or dark liver chestnut. Truly black horses, even though black is one of the base coat colors for horses, are actually pretty rare to find.

Some breeds, like the Friesian, only come in black, so black is not a rare sight when looking at these breeds. Other breeds, however, don’t ever come in black.

Horse Breeds That Can’t Be Black


Haflinger’s are ponies that can actually only come as a flaxen chestnut. Flaxen chestnuts are chestnut horses that have a white mane and tail. Haflinger ponies aren’t seen as any other color including black, making them one of the few breeds that can’t be seen as black. The shade of chestnut that the Haflinger breed usually comes in can be described as flaxen sorrel. They are typically seen as golden brown and rarely vary in shades.


Belgian horses are a breed of coldblooded horses that also, like the Haflinger pony breed, can only come as flaxen chestnuts. Belgians are typically found as a light golden copper color with a white mane and tail. Like the Haflinger again, the Belgian rarely varies in shades and most are found as golden brown.


The fjord is a pony breed that can be ridden by children and adults alike. Fjord ponies can only come in the dun coat color and don’t vary from that color at all. Fjord ponies are always a yellow gold color with a dorsal stripe and striped mane and tail. Never are purebred fjords found in black.

Przewalski’s Horse

The Prezwalski’s horse is a breed of horse that is only ever found in the wild. This breed is actually endangered and it is believed that they resemble the horses alive during the ice age. Prezwalski’s horses are only dun like the Fjord pony, but the dun seen in the Prezwalski’s horse happens to be more orange than yellow. Like other dun horses, the Prezwalski’s horse has a dorsal stripe and often can be seen with zebra stripes on their shoulders.

Cleveland Bay

Cleveland Bays are a breed of warmblooded horses that only come in bay. This breed can vary from blood bay to black bay, but a true purebred Cleveland Bay must be truly bay in color.

Famous Black Horses

Walter Farley’s Black Stallion

Though this is a fictional horse, fans of this book series began to love black horses and the Arabian breed due to Walter Farley’s book series about the Black Stallion and his owner Alec Ramsay.

Frederick the Great

Frederick the Great is of the most famous Friesian horses in the world. He is a famous Friesian stallion with over 39 thousand followers on social media. He stands at stud at a farm in Arkansas called Pinnacle Friesians. Frederick was imported from the Netherlands at the age of six and was given the title of the world’s most handsome horse in 2016.

Black Caviar

Black Caviar was a famous Australian racehorse who is best known for being undefeated and winning 25 races. Now retires, this Thoroughbred racehorse is one of the only famous female racehorses on the world, other than the famous bay filly Ruffian.

Black Caviar was actually named the WTRR World Champion Sprinter in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. This is an incredible achievement, especially for a female racehorse.

Flying Ebony

Like Black Caviar, Flying Ebony is a famous Thoroughbred racehorse who is best known for winning the Kentucky Derby in the year 1925.

Hailey Sipila

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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