How To Tell The Difference Between Horse Markings

Horses are wonderful animals that come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Just as there are many different breeds of horses, there are a whole variety of markings that are unique only to your horse. These markings can vary from facial markings, to leg markings, and even hoof or coat patterns.

Horse markings are more than just pretty decorations that make your horse look unique. These markings can also be used to identify your horse should they go missing or if you need to identify them for whatever reason.

But how well do you know your horse markings?

Today, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about horse markings and what makes them so interesting. Why not use the below fact sheet to identify which markings your horse has?

Common face markings

One of the most common places that horses have different markings is of course on their face. Let’s take a look at some of the most common facial markings that horses can have. Which ones does your horse have?


This is a white mark which typically features on a horse’s forehead. It tends to vary in size, with some stars being smaller, and others being larger.


Snips tend to be a small or large mark around the muzzle and nose area of your horse’s face. This can vary in size.

Lip marks

These are of course focused around the mouth area of your horse. Lip marks will tend to be a smaller version of the white muzzle, only covering parts of your horse’s lips.

How To Tell The Difference Between Horse Markings

White muzzle

As the name suggests, a white muzzle covers your horse’s whole muzzle.


Stripes typically feature a narrow white mark that runs down your horse’s face. This is usually much longer than a snip or a star.


Similar to a stripe, a blaze is a much larger stripe that will take up a lot of your horse’s face. Blazes are typically more prominent than stripes.


One of the most prominent facial markings, a bald face will feature a large white mark that takes up the majority of your horse’s face. This typically extends beyond their eyes and is often matched with blue eyes.

Common hoof and leg markings

Other areas of your horse that can have easily identifiable markings are their legs. Similar to stars and blazes, there can be a variety of white markings unique to your horse. These may even be in black depending on their coat color and breed. Your horse’s hooves may also be in different colors or feature unique markings of their own.


Also known as an ermine, a coronet is usually a white marking surrounding your horse’s hoof.

Partial pastern

This is where a white mark is located on your horse’s pastern. This is the part of their foot between the hoof and the fetlock. However, this white mark doesn’t quite form a sock by going all around their foot.


Larger than a partial pastern, this is a white marking that will cover the whole of your horse’s pastern. This will be on the lower part of your horse’s leg and won’t be large enough to be considered a sock.


Perhaps one of the more recognizable markings is the sock. This is a white marking that usually features on the lower part of your horse’s leg, above the pastern.


Larger than a sock, a boot features a white marking that runs from your horse’s hooves up to their knee. These will usually cover their whole lower leg, but tend to stay below your horse’s knees.


Even larger than a boot, a stocking features a white marking that runs from your horse’s hooves to above their knee. This can even go higher up their leg.

Zebra bars or stripes

As the name suggests, zebra bars or stripes typically feature black horizontal bars or stripes along your horse’s legs. These tend to feature above your horse’s knees, however, this isn’t always the case.

Black points

If your horse is any color aside from black, it may have black points on its legs. These are similar to stockings, but are black in color instead of white. Black points will usually feature above your horse’s knee, but they can cover a smaller area.

Hoof colors

Another identification feature that you can use to identify your horse is its hoof color. This can be either black, blue, or white. Your horse may even have a striped hoof, which is where they have a white hoof with a black stripe down it.


This is typically longer horsehair around your horse’s hooves. This hair will often appear to be coarse hair like that of your horse’s tail or mane, however, the hair is actually silky soft. Only certain breeds will have feathering, such as shire horses or Friesians.

Common coat patterns

Other identifiable markings are of course the coat and hair patterns of your horse. This can manifest in both a difference of colors, as well as hair that grows in different directions.


Similar to a cow’s lick in humans, a whorl will show itself as horse fur growing in different directions to the majority of your horse’s coat. For example, you may notice a whorl on your horse’s forehead between their eyes. This usually tends to form in a swirling pattern.

Your horse may have one or more whorls on its face. Interestingly, whorls can grow right, left, or even as a starburst in all different directions.

Dorsal and shoulder stripes

Some patterns can manifest themselves in the form of shoulder or dorsal stripes. These are typically dark stripes that run along your horse’s back down to their tail, or across their shoulder. These types of markings are more commonly associated with mules, donkeys, duns, mustangs, or some pony breeds.

Using your horse’s unique markings to identify them

The fantastic thing about all of the unique markings that we have talked about in more detail above is that you can easily use them to identify your horse. You may be wondering why you would ever need to identify your horse.

However, you will have to detail their physical appearance for breed registry purposes, or even to prove your ownership. Other reasons for using your horse’s unique markings to identify them could be in the event that your horse gets stolen, lost, or separated from you and your yard, and you need help with finding them.

So to make sure that you are prepared for any eventuality, it will be important to make yourself well acquainted with your horse’s individual markings.

To get started, you will need to take several photos of your horse from every angle. Make sure to take a photo from the front, the back, as well as both flanks of your horse. It will also help to write a thoroughly detailed description of what your horse looks like.

You will need to include details such as their individual breed; what sex they are; how many hands they are; how old they are; what colors their coat is; any markings that can help to identify them (you can use the above lists to help you); what color hooves they have; which direction their mane tends to grow in; what color their tail and mane are; whether their coat has any swirls and which direction these go in; any old injuries or scars they may have; if they have any white saddle sore marks; if they have a brand, ID chip, or tattoo.

An important thing to note is how many chestnuts your horse has on their legs. Make sure to take close-up photos of these, as these are always unique to your horse. Similar to how no two human fingerprints are alike, chestnuts will be different for each horse.

In the event that your horse doesn’t have a lot of identifiable marks or is a solid color, you can consider getting them an ID chip, tattoo, or brand. This will make it easier to identify your horse should anything happen to separate them from you.

In summary

So there you have it! There are so many fascinating and unique horse markings in the world. Each and every marking will be unique to different horses, with some being more pronounced than others. If your horse doesn’t have a lot of identifiable markings, you can consider getting them an ID chip, brand, or tattoo.

It will be a good idea to make a detailed description of your horse to keep to hand. Make sure to take photos of your horse from every angle, too, so that you can use these to help identify them in the event that you ever get separated.

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