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Equine Education

Horse Face and Leg Markings

If you’re new to horses, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed by the complexities of breeds, tack, riding styles, health care, and more. The subject of equine markings is one place the newcomer will find many new terms. And while horses can display a wide variety of markings on their bodies, we’re going to look specifically at the white markings on horses’ legs and faces and help you learn to identify them by name.

Click image for larger view



 



In this chart, we show each face marking separately, but this doesn’t mean they are always seen alone. Many horses have combinations of face markings, such as a star and a snip, or a star and a stripe. And then there are horses who have markings that seem to defy being placed in any category—you’ll have to make your own judgement on what to call it!

Horse Face Markings

Face markings are identified according to their shape and location on the horse’s face.

  • Snip:

    a small white marking on the muzzle, not connected to any other markings.

  • Stripe:

    a narrow band of white running up a horse’s face from the nose to between the eyes.

  • Star:

    any white marking on the forehead. It could be tiny, it could be large, or it could be an average size, like the one shown.

  • Blaze:

    a white marking wider than a stripe and thinner than a bald face, not including the horse’s eyes.

  • Bald Face:

    the most dramatic face marking, covering most of the face, possibly covering the eyes.

Horse Leg Markings

Click image for larger view

Leg markings are identified by how high they extend up a horse’s leg.

  • Coronet:

    a thin band of white above a horse’s hoof.

  • Pastern:

    includes the pastern but doesn’t cover the fetlock

  • Sock (sometimes called an anklet):

    includes the fetlock joint

  • Half-stocking (or half-cannon):

    continues partway up the horse’s cannon bone.

  • Stocking:

    covers the entire lower leg and sometimes goes past the knee

 

This article about horse face and leg markings is a web exclusive for Horse Illustrated magazine, originally published November 2015. Click here to subscribe!

Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson is a freelance writer and professional photographer, and watcher of horse movies. His favorite is probably Misty (1961). He’s the author of several books, including How to Raise Horses: Everything You Need to Know, (Voyageur Press, 2014). Dan’s barn is home to Summer, a Welsh/TB cross, Orion, a Welsh Cob, and Mati and Amos, two Welsh Mountain Ponies.

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