Perhaps one of the most well known horse colors, bay comes in a wide variety of different shades. All shades of this color can be physically identified by their black points (mane, tail & legs).
A bay horse is an animal with a black base affected by the Agouti gene. The Agouti gene only affects black bases & restricts the distribution of black hair to points & top line. Bays are commonly found in most breeds & a few are exclusively bred for the color.
Quick Bay Facts
- Bay is a dominant color
- Coat color ranges from light brown to dark red
- Mane, tail & points are always black
- Can have white markings on head & legs
- Along with dun, light bay was possibly a color found in ancestral horses
There is a wide variety of bay colors which vary by animal & breed. For the most part, they fall under the general categories below.
Dark or Mahogany Bay
The darkest of the bay shades & often mistaken for seal brown animals (which are different genetically). The body is a deep brown red which can almost look black or deep brown.
This is the second darkest color of bay, which has a deep blood-red body color. This shade can almost appear to be shades of purple.
This color tends to be more bright, like a copper penny. The coat has a rich, orange-red body color.
Perhaps the most common bay shade & generally what people think of when they envision the color. The coat is deep red, with no smutty coloration.
Light or Golden Bay
The lightest shade of bay, this one is actually not as common as some of the darker shades. The coat color can be a light red to almost golden yellow.
Wildtype Bay Horse
Wild bays are true bays, with a deep red coat color & black points. In wild bay, leg points only extend up to the pastern or fetlock & this is often associated with animals that carry the pangare gene.
White Patterns on Bay Coats
Bay animals can be affected by all white patterns & the bay coloring actually creates incredibly colorful spotted animals (think tri-colored pintos).