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Cremello (Perlino) Horse

Oliver Jones

If there are horses in paradise, they have to be cremellos. Cream color, pink skin, white mane, and blue eyes are the defining characteristics of this horse. The cremello horse is, no doubt, a thing of beauty.

But contrary to popular belief, cremello is not a horse breed but a color. This means that it can be found in any breed. However, it is more commonly found in Shetland ponies, Quarter Horses, and draft horses. This article will detail everything you need to know about the cremello horse. Let’s ride!

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Quick Facts about Cremello Horses

Species Name: Equus ferus caballus
Family: Equidae
Care Level: High maintenance
Temperament: Docile and enthusiastic
Color Form: Cream with no marks
Lifespan: 25–30 years
Size: 15–17 hands
Diet: Herbivorous
Compatibility: Best suited for experienced owners

Cremello Horse Overview

Cremello horse
Image Credit: arthorse, Shutterstock

The cremello horse isn’t a horse breed. It is just a work of genetics. Without going into too much science, cremellos come about when a red-colored horse encounters two cream genes.

It is important to note that cremello horses are different from perlino horses.

While they might not have many differences in color, perlinos, have darker manes and tails. Both of these animals have two cream genes, but perlinos have a bay base color.

The cremello is a rare horse and should not be confused with an albino. Many people cite their blue eyes, pink noses, and light coat when referring to them as albinos. However, albino horses have no pigment and are clearly white. You will easily notice that cremello horses are cream and therein lies the distinction.

While these horses have been in existence for time immemorial, they were shunned for a long time by the American Quarter Horse Association. It was only after a lot of lobbying by the Cremello and Perlino Educational Association that they were recognized and registered in 2003.

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How Much Do Cremello Horses Cost?

Cremello horses are rare and highly in demand, and as you can expect, you will have to pay more for them than a regular horse. However, the true cost of a cremello will be determined by the particular breed you are interested in. For example, a Lusitano Mare could cost as much as $20,000, while a Quarter Horse filly could go for as little as $2,700.

Other things such as pedigree, conformation, or height will also affect the price of a cremello horse. Be sure to buy from a reputable breeder to ensure that you get a healthy animal.

Typical Behavior and Temperament

There are people who swear by the fact that blue-eyed horses act wilder. But nothing can be further from the truth. The appearance of a horse does not in any way affect its temperament or character. What really matters is the breed and the genetics the horse carries.

If you have a Quarter Horse, you can look forward to an animal that will be enthusiastic to please you and one that is laidback. But you can’t say the same thing about an Arabian. In the same breath, a horse that comes from a lineage of aggressive horses is not likely to be gentle. You can find this diversity in the temperaments of varying breeds of cremello horses.

Appearance & Varieties

a cremello horse
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

To the untrained eye, cremellos, albinos, and perlinos might as well be the same animal due to their striking resemblance. Nonetheless, they are remarkably different once you know what to look for.

The standard cremello horse sports an unspotted cream-colored coat, in addition to a white mane and tail. Moreover, it has a distinct pink skin beneath its cream coat, blue eyes, and a pink nose.

So, how do you differentiate cremellos from albinos and perlinos? Albinos also come with blue eyes, pink noses, as well as white manes and tails. However, while the cremello has a distinct cream shade on its coat, the albino does not.

Instead, the coats of albinos’ are pure white. Nonetheless, you might not be able to tell that from a distance, which is why albinos and cremellos are commonly mistaken for one another. Therefore, you will want to take a closer look at the individual to avoid making that mistake.

On the other hand, perlinos sport the same cream-colored coat as cremellos. They even have the same pink skin and blue eyes. However, upon closer inspection, you will notice that a perlino’s mane and tail have a distinct reddish hue to them. The tail and mane of a cremello are always going to be white.

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How to Take Care of a Cremello Horse

Of all companion animals, taking care of a horse is probably the most involved. Horses require significant time and financial commitment. You must provide them with the right diet or pasture and must avail proper housing to protect them from predators and harsh weather. And, of course, you must have scheduled vet visits to keep your animals healthy.

Cremello horses require even more attention because of their light coat coloring. If you live in an area that experiences strong sunshine, your horses could be at risk of sunburns and other skin issues. This makes it necessary to build stables with proper roofing to keep out the sun. You might also consider horse sunscreen and UV blocking masks during the hottest months.

Do Cremello Horses Get Along With Other Horses?

As mentioned, cremello horses are defined by color, not by breed. Therefore, the way they behave towards other horses is dependent on individual temperament and other factors. Generally, horses tolerate each other but may require some time to establish the pecking order.

You can expect some squabble and, in some cases, total chaos that might result in injuries. It is, therefore, important to keep an eye on your stable if you bring in a new horse. Ultimately, the best way to introduce horses to each other is across the fence.

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What to Feed Your Cremello Horse

Like other horses, the bulk of your cremello’s diet should consist of pasture and good-quality hay. This is because their digestive systems are designed to eat roughage, which typically comes from grassy stalks. Experts recommend ensuring that your horse eats between 1%-2% of its body weight in roughage daily.

Additionally, avoid feeding your cremello immediately before or after exercise. This is because the digestive process requires a lot of blood and oxygen for smoother operation. Exercise, on the other hand, diverts blood from the digestive organs, slowing gut action. Therefore, riding a full horse puts them at risk of colic.

Ideally, you should wait for at least an hour after your animal has fed before you can put them to work. On the other hand, allow them to cool down completely after work before you can feed them. This means waiting for their breathing rate to go back to normal. Also, ensure that the horse’s skin does not feel sweaty or sticky.

Most importantly, make sure that your cremello horse has access to fresh, clean water at all times.

cremello horse
Image Credit: Pixabay

Breeding

Cremellos come about from selecting traits that make a horse’s coat appear lighter through a process known as color dilution. To achieve the cremello color, you will need to use breeds that have the cream gene, such as a palomino or a buckskin.

However, cremellos are “double diluted,” meaning that they have two copies of the cream gene. Since most horses with the cream gene only have a single copy, the idea is to cross such breeds with the hopes that one of their offspring shall be double diluted. Fortunately, the chances of that occurring are around 25%.

The most popular breeds used in the creation of cremellos include Saddlebreds, draft horses, Shetland ponies, and Quarter Horses. This is because they are all “chestnuts” with a cream gene, which is what you need to create a cremello. Using “bays” with a cream gene is more likely to result in a perlino.

Keeping Your Cremello Horse Healthy

In addition to a proper diet, your cremello horse will need access to the following things to remain healthy:

Regular Deworming and Vaccinations

Like other horses, your cremello requires regular deworming and vaccination to remain in good condition. The ideal vaccines for your horse depend on factors such as age, activity levels, and location. Therefore, it is best to consult with your vet to determine what is best for your horse. Check out the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s vaccination guidelines to get an idea of the kind of vaccines your cremello might need.

Worms are notorious for causing colic, weight loss, as well as lowering the quality of your horse’s coat. This is why deworming your cremello regularly is crucial. Therefore, ask your vet about the best dewormers for your horse.

Additionally, employ proper management practices to reduce your horse’s exposure to parasites. This might involve rotating pastures regularly, removing manure, and not keeping too many horses on a small piece of land.

Proper Housing, Exercise, and Rest

Proper housing is essential for protecting your cremello against adverse weather conditions, as well as providing them with a place to sleep or rest. While a stall is a good option, most horses are hardy enough to be comfortable in a three-sided shelter.

In case your cremello is stalled, make sure that you exercise them daily. This will help prevent both physiological and behavioral problems.

Hoof and Teeth Care

Experts recommend trimming a horse’s hooves every 6-8 weeks. Additionally, depending on your cremello’s activity levels, body type, and environment, they might require shoes. Talk to your farrier about the best practices to keep your horse’s hooves in good condition.

Like other horses, your horse is also predisposed to dental problems. This is because their teeth never stop growing, which is another reason their diet should consist of roughage, as it helps to file them. Without proper care, a cremello’s teeth can wear unevenly, resulting in sharp edges and points that make chewing painful and difficult.

This can cause weight loss, colic, and esophageal blockage (choking). Signs of dental disease in equines include foul breath, rotting teeth, and undigested hay in the stool. Make sure that your cremello horse has its teeth checked by the vet at least twice a year to avoid potential dental problems.

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Are Cremello Horses Suitable for You?

If you are looking for a show animal or a horse that will turn heads, you can never go wrong with a cremello horse. But first, make sure that you have the resources required to keep your horse happy and content.

Conclusion

The cremello horse is indeed one of the most beautiful horses you will ever lay your eyes on. While some people confuse it with an albino, it does not lack pigment and is therefore not predisposed to the same problems an albino is predisposed to. You might have to pay a pretty penny for a horse with this rare color, but it’s worth every penny.

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Featured Image Credit: nigel baker photography, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.