Keep the chestnut horse shiny and bright!


The beauty of a chestnut horse is the reddish copper color that you can bring out in their coat. But how? Of course, it starts with a balanced diet – then lots of grooming and maybe some products. So we all know the elbow grease routine, currying till the cows come home, waxing on wax off – these all help keep the chestnut horse shiny.


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Stains on a chestnut horse


  • Urine and manure stains are a problem with chestnuts, not as much as with a gray, but you might see stains persist if your horse is very specific in their pooping/urinating/sleeping habits.


  • Look for crusty hair, and use your nose to sniff for urine stains. A simple spot remover works wonders, some spot removers also have an odor remover and deodorizer. Then carry on with your horse grooming session as normal, you know, when you buff your upper body into shape.


  • Finish your grooming session with some sort of shine-making tool. A hay wisp will work fine, depending on how homemade you want it. 


  • If store-bought is more your cup of tea, think cactus cloth, finishing brush, or sheepskin mitt. This adds another layer of shine. I’m a fan of sheen products, as long as they are an addition to your horse’s shine and not a total replacement for proper nutrition and grooming.


chestnut horse after a trace clip

Ah, the pumpkin spiced chestnut.

How’s your horse’s diet and internal health? 


  • A well-balanced diet, which may or may not include supplements, should support skin and coat health.  


  • A forage-based diet, ideally delivered via slow feeders, is the basis for a healthy horse.


  • Add Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and biotin to support skin and coat health if needed. 


  • Internal parasites will steal nutrients and make your horse’s coat dull.  Regular fecal egg counts and targeted deworming remedy this by strategically keeping your horse’s parasite load low. 


Also, watch out for sun bleaching on your chestnut horse.


  • While not usually as prevalent as the dark bays and blacks, a chestnut horse can decide to be more palomino. Thorough grooming, sweat removal, fly sheets, and shade make sun bleaching less of an issue.


  • You may want to invest in a sunscreen spray, as the ends of the tails and manes can start to be crispy and bleached out. A fly mask can also help keep the forelock its intended color.


  • Body clipping also has a definite effect on the chestnut horse. The glow of the coppery chestnut is replaced with… a dull pumpkin color. Super. Never fear – grooming oils to the rescue! Use grooming oils on a scrubbed clean horse before clipping to make the clippers zip through.


  • After clipping, use a grooming oil to restore shine. You may also want to bathe in a few days with a color-restoring shampoo. Just as effective as regular shampoos, but with added shine and color pigments to let your chestnut be bright.


  • Be sure to allow the pumpkin color to recede a bit for two weeks or so before a show, clinic, or big event. If you are showing, consider a full body clip instead of a trace clip so there’s no severe fuzzy chestnut to clipped light pumpkin transition.


grooming oil on a horse after clipping


Oil buff your horse


  • We are all fans of multitasking, so let’s combine an arm workout with grooming. Using grooming oils to oil buff your horse does a few things—it adds shine, conditions the hair coat, and helps your horse be waterproof.  


  • There are MANY ways to use grooming oils on your horse:


    • With a cloth
    • Or a stiff brush
    • In some warm water
    • Or hot water, or cool water – depends on the season
    • As a rinse
    • As a buff

For the complete guide to OIL BUFFING – read this! 

  • If all else fails, just curry more. Like seriously. Nothing creates bloom more than elbow grease.


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Fun facts about chestnut horses 


  • The chestnut color in horses is primarily influenced by genetics, and chestnut horses can carry either one or two copies of the chestnut gene. Horses with two copies display a more intense red hue, while those with one may have a lighter, sorrel shade. Genetic testing can determine if a horse carries the chestnut gene, helping breeders make informed decisions about their breeding programs.


What are the two base colors in horses, and how do they relate to chestnut horses?


  • The two base coat colors in horses are black and red, with red being synonymous with chestnut. 


  • Chestnut coloring is determined by the presence of the “e” gene, also known as the chestnut gene. This gene comes in two variations, e and E, with lower-case “e” responsible for chestnut coloration. E is the dominant allele, and e is the recessive allele. A horse with EE or Ee genes has a primary black color, but Ee horses have black and red colors. Since the e allele prevents black pigment production, ee horses will be chestnut. All other horse coat colors are considered variations of these two foundational colors.  


chestnut mare grazing on bright green pasture


Can a chestnut mare bred to a chestnut stallion produce a foal of a different color?


  • When a chestnut mare (ee) breeds with a chestnut stallion (ee), the resulting foal (also ee) will always inherit the chestnut coloration. 

How can two black horses potentially produce a chestnut foal?


  • Two black horses can potentially produce a chestnut foal due to the presence of hidden genes that can result in unexpected coat colors. In genetics, black horses can carry recessive genes for chestnut color, which may be expressed when two black horses with these hidden genes are bred together. If the dam is Ee and the sire is Ee, the foal could be EE, Ee, or ee – there’s a 1 in 4 chance the foal is chestnut. 


What is the range of shades that chestnut horses can have?


  • Chestnut horses can display various shades, varying from very light to dark. In particular, liver chestnut horses are known to exhibit shades that can range from almost black to bay. 


  • Chestnut horses can also bleach from UV light and poor nutrition, resulting in lighter shades of red. Zinc and copper help a horse deposit pigment into the hair shaft, giving color.  


up close of a horse eye in winter


What does the term “strawberry roan” refer to concerning chestnut horses?


  • The term “strawberry roan” specifically denotes a chestnut horse that carries a roan-modifying gene, which results in its unique coloration and appearance within the chestnut horse category. This gene is called a color modifier and causes a sprinkling of white hair with the base coat color. Usually, there is more white on the neck and body.  


  • Blue roan horses have this genetic modifier with the black base color of hair. 


How is the Palomino coat coloring produced in chestnut horses?


  • The Palomino coat coloring in chestnut horses is produced by the presence of the cream (dilution) gene alongside their chestnut coat color. This unique coloring results when a chestnut horse inherits one copy of the cream gene, which dilutes the base color and gives rise to the classic golden or metallic sheen characteristic of Palomino horses.


How do white markings on chestnut horses compare to those on bay or black horses?


  • Chestnut horses usually have more white markings than those on bay or black horses. Of course, there are exceptions, but overall, chestnut horses have more chrome. 


In which horse breeds is chestnut the only recognized color?


  • The Suffolk Punch horse, a gorgeous draft horse, is limited to five shades of chestnut: liver, dark, red, light, or bright chestnut. White or silver hairs casually thrown about are allowed, as are some white markings on the face, which tend to be rare. 


  •  Haflingers are also solely recognized in the chestnut hue. There was a foundational sire named Folie, who was a golden color. Modern Haflingers have chestnut colors ranging from light gold to liver chestnut. The mane and tail are flaxen or white. 


horse legs in the shade with lots of chrome white stockings

Chestnut horses have more chrome usually – there are exceptions! 


What is the difference between chestnut and sorrel regarding coat color terminology?


  • Chestnut and sorrel are terms used to describe the coat color of horses, with some people making a distinction based on the color of the horse’s mane and tail. If the mane and tail are lighter blonde, yellowish, or even flaxen, a horse is usually called sorrel. Many people use the terms interchangeably.   


What stereotype is associated with chestnut mares, and how has it been debunked?


  • The stereotype associated with chestnut mares is that they are difficult, stubborn, flighty, and unruly and that mare-ish traits are amplified. This is bunk, but the myth persists because a few chestnut mares fit this description.  


Which famous racehorses are chestnuts?


  • There are many famous chestnut horses in all racing. Perhaps the most notable are Man o’ War and Secretariat. But don’t forget about Phar Lap and California Chrome. 


What is the significance of chestnut horses in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame?


  • Chestnut and sorrel horses have played a significant role in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame, with over half of the horses inducted as of 2011 belonging to these color categories. Many famous AQHA horses are household names, like Doc Bar, Dash for Cash, Lena’s Bar, and Zippo Pine. 




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Stock up here for your horse supplies to keep your chestnut horse shiny. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, but it’s ZERO extra cents to you.  You can also visit my Amazon storefront here:  PEG storefront.

Big Hoss - Outlaw Nutrition

Omega 3's plus gut health support in a delicious cold milled flax formula. It's delicious and it will turn your horse's coat into a mirror.

Shapley's No.1 Light Oil
$19.82 $17.35

For shine, conditioning, detangling, and stain protection.

07/23/2024 05:10 pm GMT
H.A.S HAAS Mould Horse Brush Large Silver, Medium

Boost shine and create a smooth coat with this medium brush from the best of the best - HAAS. Go forth and shine!

07/23/2024 01:08 pm GMT
HandsOn Finishing Gloves - Double Sided

The jute side buffs to add shine, the other side is fuzzy for lifting dust and applying fly sprays and grooming products.

07/23/2024 06:27 pm GMT
Shapley's Easy-Out No Rinse Shampoo 32 fl.oz

Spot removing, deodorizing, dust busting, shine adding spray.

07/23/2024 08:35 pm GMT
SHAPLEY'S Medi-Care Med Shampoo W/Tea Tree & Lemon Grass, 32 oz
$22.99 $20.64

The best shampoo for shine and soothing.

07/23/2024 04:24 pm GMT
Shapley’s 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo - Whitening Formula

For all colors - to add shine and help lift stains.

07/23/2024 08:28 pm GMT
Shapley's Equitone 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo, GOLD
$23.49 $21.72

Brighten duns, palominos, and golden colors.

07/23/2024 08:34 pm GMT
Shapley's 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo, BLACK

For dark bays, black points, and black horses

07/23/2024 08:23 pm GMT
SHAPLEY'S 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo, RED
$23.49 $21.62

For chestnuts and some bays

07/23/2024 08:28 pm GMT
Shapley's No.2 Heavy Oil

For deep conditioning and detangling - coat, mane, and tail.

07/23/2024 08:34 pm GMT
Shapley's No.1 Light Oil
$19.82 $17.35

For shine, conditioning, detangling, and stain protection.

07/23/2024 05:10 pm GMT
HANDSON Pet Grooming Gloves - Grooming, Bathing, Shedding
$24.99 $16.99

These are HandsOn Gloves with special pricing! Only in the color gray.

07/23/2024 06:32 pm GMT
Big Hoss - Outlaw Nutrition

Omega 3's plus gut health support in a delicious cold milled flax formula. It's delicious and it will turn your horse's coat into a mirror.

07/23/2024 08:53 pm GMT

Thank you! 



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