MY BLACK HORSE TURNS BROWN IN THE SUMMER?
There are three types of black horses, which have the same Genetic Markers in their DNA but a difference in their coats. They are True Black, Black and Fading Black. True Black is most often seen in cold blooded horses or horses with cold blood close up in their pedigree. Examples are ponies, draft horses, Friesians, etc. Black is seen in all breeds. These horses generally do not fade, except in extremely hot sun then just a bit in the flank or around the eyes, etc.
Fading Blacks are Black horses but fade in the sun. The hotter that area in the summer months, the longer the days (amount of sunlight) and amount of time exposed to the sun are all contributing factors. Horses stabled outdoors that get wet from rain, then the hot sun drying the coat, again scorches it so it fades to brown even quicker. Also, the hair shafts fade from sweat and that is why you will see some black horses that are brown under the saddle when they are working horses.
People who show must keep a light summer sheet on these Fading Blacks during turn out time in the hot summer months to keep them from fading. On some horses, hoods to cover the necks and head must also be used. Many show people only turn them out in the early mornings or the evenings to prevent this fading. I have yet to find a product that can be fed or applied to the coat that prevents fading. Proper light summer sheets still allow a horse to sweat through them and air to circulate through the loosely knit fabric, so they are not uncomfortable for the horse. NOTE: Dark Brown horses that look black when haired up in the winter months should not be considered to be Black horses. A Brown horse, even in the winter, will have some evidence of brown around the eyes, muzzle, flank, under the tail, etc.