One of the rarer color dilutes, the silver gene is the opposite of the cream dilution and only has an effect on hair with black pigment. Chestnuts are not affected, but silver has a rather dramatic effect on both black and bay animals.
Silver dapple (also called taffy and chocolate) is often confused with flaxen chestnuts and even dark palominos because they can display dapples and often have creamy colored mane and tail hair. The dilution acts by changing black pigment to a lighter color and often creating dappling on body hair. Silver is more common in gaited horses and shetlands than any other breed but is becoming more popular.
Because it only affects black pigment the silver effect is rather dramatic. While it does have an effect on bays, it creates the most notable change on black animals, changing their coloring entirely.
Silver Dapple or Chocolate Silver
Silver on a black base creates an array of colors and varies by animal and breed. Body coat changes to anything from a light silver or brown color all the way to a deep grey or chocolate brown (sometimes with dapples) and mane and tail hair are flaxen to white. There are a variety of regional names for this color, different breeds tend to display the gene differently. Silver on black can produce animals with and without dapples, but they are slightly different genetically.
Silver Bay or Red Silver
Silver on a bay isn’t quite as dramatic, however generally has an obvious effect. Only black hairs will be affected, so the body color remains the standard bay shades, the mane and tail turns flaxen and their legs often take on a chocolate brown tinge.
Silver on a brown or seal bay generally tends to be similar to bays, with darker body color, but sometimes it can produce an animal that looks almost blue. All seal bays will have the characteristic red in their soft parts that distinguishes them.