What Is The Strawberry Roan Horse: Everything You Need To Know

Horses come in all different shapes and sizes. There are so many breeds to consider, and so many different colors and coat types that horses can have. If you are interested and drawn to horses with unique coat characteristics and patterns, then you may be interested in the strawberry roan horse. 

These horses are from various breeds, and have beautifully toned coats with white patterns and various base colors. Strawberry roan horses are not the only roan horses that you can find.

There are many roan horses, with bay, blue, red and even chestnut roan horses to choose from. If this piques your interest, then take a look at this guide all about the Strawberry Roan horse. So, let’s start with what a roan horse actually is. 

What Is A Roan Horse?

Roan is the term for a type of horse coat pattern, with a mixture of both colored and white hairs over parts of the body, whilst the head, lower legs, mane and tail remain solidly colored. Roan coats can therefore be found on a range of horses, as the pattern is inherited through a multitude of breeds.

Roaning is therefore, the term given for a genetic coat pattern that affects the horse’s base color, which is typically either chestnut or black, and is lightened by a multitude of white hairs along the back and body.

The white hairs look slightly speckled across the horse’s body, whilst the head and legs remain normal and as the base color of the coat. These horses look as if someone has doused their backs in white dust or flour for a cool, interesting and unique-looking effect. 

As a result, these horses can be highly sought after above other types of horses as they have distinctive coat patterns. 

A true roan horse will be roan at birth, however it can be hard to see the roan pattern until after the foal has shed its foal coat. After this, the coat may become lighter or darker in color throughout the winter and summer months, and the white will be apparent. 

Unlike gray horses, that can have a dapple effect to the coat that gradually becomes lighter and whiter, roan horses do not become progressively lighter. The white, silvery effect of the roan coat pattern can make the horse’s coat appear slightly pink/strawberry or even bluish in tone. 

You can have blue roans, which are identified by black base coats, with white roaning patterns, red and strawberry roans with chestnut base coats, and bay roans which also have chestnut coats but have black points instead. 

What Is A Strawberry Roan Horse?

The Strawberry Roan horse is possibly one of the most popular and well known of the roan type horses. This could be due to the distinctive, quirky color of the strawberry roan, which you don’t find often, or on many horses. 

The strawberry roan and the chestnut roan are most likely the most famed roan horses as they have the most unique appearance. For the most part, a strawberry roan horse is a blush, or rosy colored horse with a reddish tint and a dusting of white. The white pattern of the horse makes them look coated in powdered sugar, which mixes with the base color and gives the horse a pinkish hue. 

Most strawberry roan horses will have a chestnut or red base color, but when mixed with the white hairs of the roan pattern, it can make the horse look lighter or more pink toned. As typical of a roan horse, the knees, legs, tail and mane are more likely to be the base color, and the white hairs will be found on the back and belly. 

How To Spot A Strawberry Roan Horse

You will know a strawberry roan horse when you see one! Strawberry roan horses will normally have solid reddish colored legs and faces, with solid reddish or flaxen manes and tails, with the roan pattern on the body. However, some strawberry roans may have more of the roan markings than others.

In addition, some strawberry roan horses can be of different shades, as some may have darker or lighter base coat colors. This can give the strawberry roan horse the appearance of a silvery, pinky tone, whereas others may be closer to a chestnut color, dotted with white markings. 

Are Strawberry Roan Horses True Roan Horses?

Many people mistake coat patterns for roan horses, when it is not always the case. There are many horse coat patterns that look similar to the roan pattern but are not true roan horses, such as dapple gray horses.

However, strawberry roan horses are considered true roan horses, and are categorized as such by breed societies and associations. That being said, other roan colors are also recognized as true roan horses, such as blue roan horses and bay roan horses. 

Roaning is a genetic trait, and is therefore inherited and passed down from parents to offspring. All horses will have a main base coat color, but the other genes such as the roan gene will determine if there are any patterns or markings on the coat. 

The roaning pattern is a dominant gene, so it will most likely manifest in the horse’s appearance if the horse carries the roaning allele or genes. However, as it is inherited, two non roan horses cannot make a roan foal. There must be roaning genes present.

Obviously, if both parents carry the roaning genes, then there is more of a chance of the foal having a roan coat. If one parent has the roan gene and the other does not, then there is less of a chance of the roaning pattern being passed onto the foal. This is why it is very rare for purebred horses and Thoroughbreds to have the roaning gene, as they will have been meticulously bred. 

Other coat patterns that give the appearance of roaning are what is known as imposters. These may be dapple grays, gray horses, red dun horses, sabino horses and rabicano horses. 

What’s The Difference Between A Red Roan & A Strawberry Roan?

Red roan and strawberry roan are often terms used interchangeably for strawberry roan horses, but they are actually two different things. Red roan horses are bay roan horses, and strawberry roans are another thing entirely. 

Red, or bay roan horses are slightly darker than strawberry roans, as strawberry roans tend to be more pinkish in color, whereas bay roans are much darker and reddish. 

From Birth

It is hard to tell the difference between red/bay roans and strawberry roans from birth as the roaning may not be as prominent, and you may have to wait until the foal coat is shed. However, from birth a strawberry roan may have a lighter base coat than a red roan. True roaning will appear at birth, and can be visible even then. 

Color Intensifies

Similar to the dapple gray coat color, colors can intensify over the years and as the horse gets older. This is why strawberry roans are often confused with red or bay roans, as they may get darker with age, but are born lighter. As the years pass, the strawberry roan coat can get a little bit darker, but it will still be more chestnut to pink toned, and not chestnut-red toned. 

Eyebrow Color

Strawberry roan horses may also have white eyebrows, as they have much lighter base coats, and can have more whiter hairs around the face and eyes, whereas red roans will not have white eyebrows, and will be darker toned in the facial areas. 

Breeds With The Strawberry Roan Color

The roan pattern is genetically inherited, so you can find the strawberry roan horse in a range of horse breeds. However, with some breeds it is more likely than others. 

For instance, you will find true strawberry roans are rather common in the American Quarter Horse and the American Paint Horse. You can also find strawberry roan horses in mustangs, and grade horses. 

It is not very common for Thoroughbred horses or Arabian breeds to exhibit roaning characteristics, however it is possible due to imposter genes. 

Facts About Strawberry Roan Horse

What you may not know about roan horses is that if the skin is cut, damaged or injured in any way, then the coat grows back in a solid color, without any roaning or white hairs, which is so strange! 


In general, the roaning can occur in a range of horse breeds, but most of these tend to be between 1.4 to 1.8 m in height, and at some point between 380 and 1000 kg in weight. These horses are generally of a slim build, and strong enough for riding and working. 


For a horse to be roaned, it is typically covered in white hairs along the body, back, and belly. The roaning occurs across the coat, intermingling with the colored hairs. The mane, tail and legs are generally solidly colored and the same as the base color. 

However, the coat can switch from darker to lighter through the summer and winter, and can get darker with age, however they will always be roaned, with that light speckling of whiteness. 

Maintenance Costs

Roan horses are unique and beautiful, so can sometimes fetch a higher price than other types of horses. Depending on the lineage, age and training level, these types of horses can cost from $1,500 up to $20,000. 

However, there are the maintenance costs to consider too. When you think about medical bills, equipment, training and living costs, a strawberry roan, like other horses, can cost you between $500 and $3500 a year to keep. 

Feed Costs

Horses mostly live on grass and hay, but can have veggies and fruits as treats. They may also require some supplements as well. On average, feeding a horse can cost you about $150 to $200 a month on feed. 


You can use a strawberry roan horse for the same uses as other horses. They can be kept for riding, as ranch horses, working horses or can be entered into competitions. 

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