Golden Tequila Dream, a palomino homozygous splash, and probably a sabino as well. Many thanks to Julia Lord for this photo of her lovely mare, and for the pictures shown below.
Splashed white produces horses with pink-skinned white markings, which usually have blue eyes. They often look as though they’ve been dipped in white paint feet first! The head, legs and belly may be white, sometimes connected to a patch running up either side of the thorax. The tail is often white, or white-tipped. White rarely reaches the top-line, unless other pattern genes are also present. The margins of the white markings are crisp, smooth and well-defined, without the “halo“ distinctive of tobiano horses.
Splashed white occurs in a variety of geographically divergent breeds, including Morgans, Kathiawari horses (from India) and several European breeds, including Welsh and Ardennais. Some horses have minimal markings. Minimally marked American Quarter Horses and Appaloosas have sometimes had crop-out foals with more extensive markings.
The gene involved with this phenotype hasn’t yet been identified. The KIT gene - involved in dominant white, roan, tobiano and sabino - is not thought to be a candidate(Brooks, 2006). It is the result of an incompletely dominant gene, with homozygotes exhibiting the characteristic phenotype and heterozygotes exhibiting minimal splashing or being solid coloured. Although not about splashed white, follow this link if you want to read more about the KIT gene.
The splash pattern is also associated with occasional congenital deafness. Most splashed white horses are, however, not deaf, and those which are usually cope with it well. Deafness occurs in other white or white patterned, blue-eyed animals, including dogs (Cattanach, 1999) and cats (Bosher, and Hallpike, 1965). Here an absence of melanocytes in the inner ear leads to death of the hair cells, which are necessary for perceiving sound. Almost all splash horses have pigment around the outside of the ear, but this does not indicate whether pigment occurs in the inner ear. Presumably though most Splash horses do have inner ear pigment or deafness would be more prevalent among them.
Perfect Joy, a smoky black splash & frame overo filly: what a combination!
Ever Able, a black splash & frame colt.
Step Boldly, a bay splash & frame colt.