Black Chestnut Horse


Black Chestnut Horse: Exhaustive Facts and FAQs


Undoubtedly chestnut color among horses is one of the most popular and majestic looking. A reddish-brown coat basically characterizes chestnut horses.

Chestnut is a standard color, but it had more than one shade, including honey gold to almost dark. That being said, black chestnut is one of the least common shades among horses and sometimes may be confused with an all-in-all black coat. Researches show that a dark or liver chestnut horse contains genotype AaAa.

Black chestnut horses are the darker liver chestnut horses. They tend to have black hairs in the mane and tail along with having a body coat of almost black hairs.

Image Credit: Liver Chestnut Campolina horse 2 years old by Amazona01 (CC BY-SA 3.0) from Wikimedia

Horses with this shade are one of the most in-demand in the equine world. And here, we have presented some of the most exciting facts and FAQs regarding black chestnut horses to learn more about them.

What color is black chestnut?

Chestnut is a recessive color characterized by the absence of actual black hairs. Therefore, Chestnut horses are never truly black. So then, what color makes a “black” chestnut horse?

A black chestnut can be called the darkest version of a liver chestnut with red genes. However, it is not genetically distinct from chestnut; instead, it is the effect of shade deepening the coat color to a nearly-black hue. So, it is not wrong to state that black chestnut is the deepest color of chestnut available.

Here, it is essential to note that chestnut is a base color and what makes different shades of this base color is the presence of various dilution genes. 

Image Credit: A black chestnut horse from Pxhere

Can two bay horses have a chestnut foal?

Equine colors have always remained a matter of intrigue for horse owners and breeders. Horses come in different colors, patterns, and shades, and on certain occasions, their breeding results may surprise you.

We should keep in mind that while two chestnut parents will produce a chestnut foal every time, a chestnut horse may or may not have two chestnut parents. Sounds confusing? Not really, as we mean, a chestnut foal can be produced by two bay horses if both are heterozygous for black (they both also carry one red gene). 

Chestnut horse vs. sorrel

Image Credit: A Sorrel chestnut horse close-up picture from Pxfuel

Since several shades could be found in horses, it may sometimes create confusion. Many of us may confuse between a chestnut and a sorrel horse.

That being said, chestnut and sorrel horses have different coat colors, which create the primary difference between them. For example, Chestnut horses may have coat colors varying from reddish-brown to dark chocolate. On the other hand, a sorrel horse would usually have a proper red base coat with white markings. 

Furthermore, a sorrel horse tends to have a flaxen mane and tail without any trace of black. However, in the case of a chestnut horse, it would have a chestnut mane and tail. 

It is also interesting to note that the term sorrel is more commonly used in the US, while “chestnut” is more common in Europe.  

Is black chestnut thoroughbred?

It is common to find thoroughbreds in the bay, black, and chestnut coat colors. But how often is it common to find black chestnut variety among the thoroughbreds?

Thoroughbreds come in solid coat colors. And it can be stated that thoroughbred with a chestnut coat can have a black version layering over the red base color (the darker version of the liver chestnut). 

However, a black chestnut is a rare coat color to be found among the thoroughbreds. 

Keep in mind that although it is common to find black thoroughbreds, we must never take a black horse to be black or liver chestnut. We say so because, although both of them may look similar in coat colors, a chestnut thoroughbred (even the darkest one) would never have black marking or hair. 

Can a chestnut horse have a black mane?

Image Credit: Shetland chestnut pony by AinslieGillesPatel from Pixabay

As stated severally, chestnut is one of the most commonly found equine base colors. These horses have no black marking on their body. But can they have a black mane?

Chestnut horses’ mane colors tend to vary as per their coat colors. That being said, chestnuts most commonly have flaxen and liver chestnut manes. Sometimes, the color of their manes tends to be so dark that human eyes may mistake it as true black. 

Here it is crucial to note that since chestnut horses do not have accurate black marking, they would never have (true) black manes or tails. But they may have a mane that is darker than their body to the point that it resembles “almost” black. 

Some common breeds of black chestnut horses

Image Credit: Black Forest Horse by Schlumpf98 from Pixabay

To date, no scientific research could find the reason behind the intensification of chestnuts to the point of being almost black. Still, black chestnut horses have always remained enigmatic and beautiful.

Some common breeds having black chestnut coat color include:

Difference between a true black horse from a chestnut one

Image Credit: Black horse Stallion by kristen17 from Pixabay

Black and chestnut are two of the established equine base colors. Any variation on these base colors could be the result of dilution. 

Sometimes, a chestnut horse can exhibit the darkest brown color to the point that it may seem black. But it is not. And the differentiation between a true black and chestnut horse can be done via DNA or pedigree testing.

However, for common people, the distinguishing factor stands at the black marking. In other words, a chestnut horse (including a liver chestnut) would never have any black marking, i.e., it would never produce black pigment. However, a true black horse would never have the dominant agouti to restrict their black pigment.


To conclude, it can be stated that a black or liver chestnut horse looks alluring. But if you are a horse enthusiast or owner, you must know the essential color traits of black chestnuts horses. And the specifications that differ them from an all-in-all black horse. 

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