Petkeen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn More

Chestnut Horses: Interesting Facts and Pictures

Dean Eby

Horses with a reddish-brown coat are referred to as Chestnut. This color is also known as sorrel, and it can range from a rather light shade of brown-yellow to a deep liver color, though all chestnuts will have some red in their coats. Interestingly, chestnut horses always carry two copies of the red coat pigment gene, which is recessive. If you breed a chestnut mare and stallion, the resulting offspring will always be chestnut as well.


Interesting Facts About Chestnut Horses

  • Two black horses can sometimes create chestnut foals.
  • According to The Blood-Horse Magazine, the top two racehorses of the 20th century were both chestnuts; Man o’ War and Secretariat.
  • A chestnut horse with a cream gene will have palomino coloration
  • More than half the horses in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame are chestnut or sorrel.

Chestnut Shades

Chestnut horses come in many different shades and hues. Here are some of the most common and popular.

Light Chestnut

light chestnut horse

These horses are a light color of brown with a slightly red hue. Their points are usually the same shade as their body, though the tips of their mane and tail might be a lighter color.

Red Chestnut

Red chestnut horse
Image Credit: bambe1964, Flickr

Red chestnuts have a very red hue that can sometimes appear almost orange. Their coats are bright and shiny; saturated with the red coloration. Additionally, red highlights on the horse’s body stand out.

Flaxen Chestnut

chestnut horse with flaxen
Wikimedia Commons

A flaxen chestnut horse has a body that’s chestnut-colored with a mane and tail that are much a lighter color of cream or off-white. The points of a flaxen chestnut are the same color as its body.

Liver Chestnut

liver chestnut horse

The darkest of all chestnut horses, liver chestnuts often seem to be nearly black in color. You’ll often see the chestnut coloration most apparent in the mane and tail.



It can be a bit confusing when looking at different chestnut horses. Some of them can be difficult to differentiate, like trying to tell the difference between a light chestnut, flaxen chestnut, and palomino. The subtle differences are there, but you’ll have to look closely to spot them.


Featured Image: Studio10-27, Pixabay

Dean Eby

An avid outdoorsman, Dean spends much of his time adventuring through the diverse terrain of the southwest United States with his closest companion, his dog, Gohan.  He gains experience on a full-time journey of exploration. For Dean, few passions lie closer to his heart than learning.  An apt researcher and reader, he loves to investigate interesting topics such as history, economics, relationships, pets, politics, and more.