unusual markings on horses

Unusual markings on horses!

Why does my otherwise perfectly colored horse have weird spots and marks and colored things?

Does your horse have cool markings? You might be able to track that particular marking back to a specific horse! Most markings have common names, but for some, I have heard a few different names.


Bend-Or Spots – Also knows as grease stains, smutty, or Ben D’Or Spots.


  • These spots are dark, so on a bay or chestnut horse, they look like a bit of motor oil smudged on your horse’s coat. Palomino horses can also have these markings. They are named after the Thoroughbred stallion Bend Or, and many horses that have these spots can be traced back to him. Horses with Bend-Or might not develop the spots until they are older.
bend or spot on a horse belly
The biggest Bend-Or spot I’ve seen.



Birdcatcher spots are tiny white circular markings – which have been known to move!


  • Most are under the size of a quarter and appear later in life. From a distance, they look as if a little bird has dropped some poop on your horse. You might think the name of these moving spots should be bird droppings… but Birdcatcher was the Thoroughbred stallion who had these marks on his flanks. They are not the result of a trauma or injury or bug bite or scar!


birdcatcher spot on a horse's hind leg

A birdcatcher spot.


Flea bites are the traditional coloring of an aged gray horse.


  • Most grays are born black, chestnut, or roan. Then they become the striking dapple gray, then over time and as a horse sheds, the dapples turn to little flecks of chestnut on the gray coat, looking like flea bites. On some horses, the flea bites are few and far between, on others, the flea bites are dark and plentiful.



flea bitten gray with short and long hair

Flea bites – fuzzy and not fuzzy version!



Bloodstains are a grouping of chestnut-colored markings on a gray horse.


  • Basically, a bunch of flea bites get together to make a bloodstain. Strangely enough, the bloodstain has no apparent genetic ties. In Arabian horses, the bloodstain often covers part of the neck and shoulder and becomes a bloodstained shoulder. Legend has it that a Sheik, mortally wounded in battle, was carried home by his mare while his wounds soaked her coat. The next day, she gave birth to a foal with the same blood-stained markings on his coat. These unusual markings are said to be good luck, also.


blood stain on horse's neck

  • This is a little bloodstain. I’ll take it as a sign of good luck!

There are a few other markings out there, but these are the most common!