SPLASHED WHITE, or simple SPLASH, is a white pattern, usually a pinto pattern unless very minimal in expression, and is included in the "Overo" (non-Tobiano) category. Splash comes is three known genetic variants: (SW-1, SW-2, SW-3). Read about Splashed White from Animal Genetics website

Splash Traits:

  • Minimal to Moderate Splash

    legs and head look as if they have been dipped into white paint;
    Large blaze or apron on face;
    At least some white on legs.
  • Loud Splash

    (example: Gamblin' Man, above): look as if the horse had waded out into deep white paint, splashed it up around their sides, and then dunked its head, bottom of the neck and sometimes ears in for a drink.
    Legs are white
  • Smooth edges to white areas
  • One or two blue eyes are common but not necessary

Horses with the Splash pattern usually have white legs (exception: Minimal Splash may not). White on the body may range from extremely minimal, perhaps a spot on the belly or face, to extensive "spotting" that is like a reverse tobiano (in Tobiano the white spreads from the topline down; In Splashed White, it goes from the bottom up.)

The head is usually extensively and sometimes completely white with just the ears having color.

The line between the white and color is very sharp and distinct as with Tobiano.

Blue eyes are very common.

There may be a genetic connection between the Splash pattern and deafness, although by no means are all splash horses hearing-impaired. However, since horses primarily respond to body language rather than verbal commands, deafness is not necessarily a handicap. Deaf horses can be trained very effectively, and can perform as well as hearing horses.

photo from http://www.geocities.com/Baja/Outback/2936/SplashedW.html

This Splashed White Cutting Horse, Gunnar, is a champion reining horse - and he's stone deaf!

Robin, a Splash mare owned by Marcia Grahn

Splash mini horse, from Dell Terra Minis

Minimally marked Splash PMU mares and foals

Splash is the least common of the spotting patterns in horses, although it is increasing in frequency as breeders use more and more splashed white horses in their breeding programs. It occurs sporadically in a number of widely divergent breeds, such as Welsh Ponies, Finnish Draft Horses, Clydesdales, Icelandic Horses and Paints.

The pattern usually makes the horse look as though it has been dipped in white paint. On a dark horse, the effect can be that of an ice cream cone dipped in chocolate. The legs are usually white, as are the bottom portions of the body. The head is also usually white, and the eyes are frequently blue.  http://www.apha.com/breed/geneticeq5.html

Splashed White shares a number of characteristics with the other Overo patterns, including ample facial white, white lower legs, and body white that starts on the belly and extends upward. It can sometimes resemble Tobiano as well, but is usually more of a reverse Tobiano pattern, with color over the topline and white below.

With experience, your eye will learn to recognize the differences.

SABINO                     vs.                 SPLASH

Face white on sabino can be extensive
Splash looks like the head dunked into a pail of white paint
The white patterns of Sabino are lacy and irregular

Leg white is jagged, "lightning bolt" shaped


Splash is bold, smooth-edged

FRAME                vs                    SPLASH

This BLM mustang shows  body spotting is typical of Frame - the tall jagged stockings and the wide face white suggest perhaps also sabino

This PMU foal illustrates how the white pattern on a Splash horse is bolder, less lacy, jagged but smoother-edged than either Frame or Sabino. This foal's dark legs are inconsistent with pure Splash - may be Frame, or a combination of the two.


TOBIANO                vs                    SPLASH

Tobiano's white areas are rounded, with white crossing over the topline.

Both Tobiano and Splash usually have white legs

With Splash the white starts at the belly and pours upward, staying below the topline except above the withers - sometimes resembling a reverse Tobiano

Splashed White Clydesdales


The Base ColorsRed   Black

The Genetic Modifiers: Agouti (Bay)  Appaloosa  Brindle  Champagne  Creme  Dun  Grey   Pangare (Mealy)   Roan   Roan-like Variations   Sooty   White Patterns (Spots & Splashes)   White   Silver (Silver Dapples)  

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