16 Fun Facts about Chestnut Horses

Some interesting information you may not know about this popular equine coat color.

Chestnut Mini Horse


Everybody loves the beauty of a gorgeous chestnut horse, but how much do you really know about chestnut horses? Expand your chestnut-horse knowledge with these 16 fun facts, then quiz your friends. Enjoy!

    1. There are only two base colors in horses: black and red (chestnut). Every other color is a modified version of one of these two colors.
    2. A chestnut horse carries two copies of the recessive gene for red coat color pigment
    3. A chestnut mare bred to a chestnut stallion will always produce a chestnut foal. No exceptions, 100% of the time, we promise.
    4. Two black horses can potentially produce a chestnut foal. (It doesn’t seem possible, but it is.)


Chestnut Hunter


  1. Chestnut horses can vary in shade from very light to very dark. Some liver chestnut horses can appear almost black or bay.
  2. Chestnut horses are very wise 🙂
  3. The top two horses on The Blood-Horse magazine’s list of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century (Man o’ War and Secretariat) were chestnut.
  4. Chestnut is sometimes known as “sorrel,” although some people differentiate between the two terms based on the color of the horse’s mane and tail (whether or not the hair is flaxen or red).


Chestnut Arabian


  1. Palomino coat coloring is produced when a chestnut horse also carries one copy of the cream (dilution) gene.
  2. Over time, chestnut mares have sometimes been saddled with a stereotypical reputation. (We’ve previously debunked the chestnut mare myth with examples of wondrously talented chestnut mares, including Genuine Risk.)
  3. Chestnut is the only color recognized in the Suffolk Punch breed. (Their registry spells it as “chesnut.”)
  4. Haflingers are also exclusively chestnut. Their color may range from “pale chestnut to dark liver chestnut with pale mane and tail,” according to the American Haflinger Registry breed standard.
  5. Over half of the horses inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame (as of 2011) have been chestnut or sorrel.


Chestnut Quarter Horse


  1. Chestnut horses tend to have more extensive white markings than bay or black horses.
  2. Throughout the first part of the 20th century, the most common coat color in the Welsh Mountain Pony was gray. By the end of the 20th century, chestnut had surpassed gray as the most common coat color in Welsh Mountain Ponies in the United States.
  3. The term “strawberry roan” refers to a chestnut horse with a roan modifying gene.


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Samantha Johnson is a freelance writer and the author of several books, including The Field Guide to Horses, (Voyageur Press, 2009). She raises Welsh Mountain Ponies in northern Wisconsin and...


  1. I was led to believe that a chestnut could also have black hairs in the mane and tail? if they aren’t flaxen…


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