A Dun Horse has a light-colored—often beige—body and back. But it has darker-colored primitive markings on the ears, legs, tail, and mane. It isn’t a specific breed of horse, which means that it can range in size and other characteristics and can also be used for a variety of different purposes. The genetic mutation that causes the unique coloring of the Dun Horse is natural and there is evidence of horses with these colors on cave paintings dating back to prehistoric times.
Most horses that have been intentionally bred tend not to be Dun, but the world’s dwindling population of wild horses do tend to have these markings.
|Colors||Light body, darker extremities|
Dun refers to a specific type of coloring that is most commonly found in wild horses but can be found in some domestic horses and is a result of a genetic mutation. The horse has a lighter-colored body with darker markings on the ears, legs, tail, and mane, referred to as “primitive” markings. Although the body is usually beige and the extremities a dark brown or black, the mutation can occur on red, black, or any color horses, which means that the coloring of Dun Horses can also vary greatly.
Dun Horse Characteristics
What Are Dun Horses Used For?
Dun refers to a color of horse that can be any breed or type. As such, Dun Horses can be and are used for a wide variety of purposes. Humans owe much of their development to horses, and while they are more commonly used for pleasure purposes today, they have historically been used as pack animals as well as for transport and draughting. They have also been used heavily in wars and conflicts.
Their size and ability to carry heavy weights means that horses have been ridden and have been used for draughting, or pulling heavy weights, for thousands of years. Horse riding is still used as a means of transport in many countries, especially in locations where the terrain is too challenging for motorized vehicles. Horseriding has become a pleasure activity enjoyed by people of all ages. Horses are still used for pulling cats loaded with heavy weights. They have been used to pull loads from mines and to transport goods to and from market. They still find use pulling machinery on farms and are used in conflict due to their agility and ability to be trained.
In some countries, horse meat is a staple food product, and in these countries, horses may be reared for the meat they produce as well as for the utility they provide.
Where Did These Horses Originate From?
Dun Horses are often referred to as wild-type horses because it is believed that many wild horses had Dun coloring. The early ancestors of horses are believed to have originated in Caucasus, which is now Southern Russia. They were bred for their strength and tolerance and, in approximately 2,000 B.C. these modern, intentionally bred horses started to spread around the world, first through Asia and Europe. By 1,000 B.C. these horses had replaced virtually all other types of horse found throughout the world.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Dun Horse
The temperament and intelligence of the Dun varies according to the breed, as well as the individual characteristics of the horse. Generally, however, domesticated horses tend to be friendly towards people, having been intentionally bred this way. They are also intelligent and can be quite easily trained to perform a variety of tasks from pulling heavily-laden carts to carrying people. However, different breeds can have very different temperaments. For example, Quarter Horses are known for their calm temperament and their tolerance of people, while Mustangs are notorious for being wild and much more difficult to handle and tame.
Appearance & Varieties
Although the Dun Horse is not a specific breed and their coloring and markings can vary according to breed specifics, certain characteristics are common. Any Dun Horse might have markings like zebra striping on the back of the legs and a dorsal stripe on the back, although these can be difficult to see in certain colors.
Things to Know When Owning a Dun Horse
Taking care of a horse means providing a decent stable, offering plenty of exercise, a high-quality diet, and meeting their health and general well-being requirements.
Habitat & Stable Requirements🌾
Stable size depends on the size of the horse. As a rough guide, you should provide the following stable size as a minimum:
Food & Diet Requirements🥕
Typically, a horse will eat around 2% to 4% of its body weight per day. This includes pasture such as grass, as well as dried forage including hay. You can also feed occasional fruit and vegetable treats but do not overfeed these as it can lead to a horse becoming overweight, especially if it is not a working horse. Horses also need salt and should be provided with fresh water.
In the wild, horses can cover up to 50 miles or more every day, but it is difficult to replicate this as domesticated animals. However, they do need exercise every day. As an absolute minimum, a horse should be getting 30 minutes of structured exercise three to five times a week, with plenty of time in the paddock between these sessions. Structured exercise includes riding or, when this isn’t possible, lunging and schooling.
We might not think of it as training, but every time we interact with a horse we are training it, and most horses take well to training.
You will need to start by building a strong bond with a horse, before progressing to groundwork. Groundwork is training where you are on the ground rather than in the saddle, and it covers some of the basics that you will need as you progress. It teaches the horse to stand still and gets it comfortable being led. You will also train your horse to move on command. Desensitization is also an important part of horse training and gets it used to activities, noises, and situations that it isn’t accustomed to. Horses aren’t naturally good around traffic or large groups of people, for example. Once your horse has been desensitized, you can get it used to wearing a saddle, both empty and with weight in the saddle, before riding it.
Training a horse does take time, and you must get it used to the different elements of riding before getting on its back.
Grooming is another important element of horse care and ownership. Not only does it mean that your horse will look its best, but, more importantly, it ensures that they are comfortable and minimizes the risk of certain ailments and conditions. You should groom a horse at least once a week—more often if you ride regularly.
Lifespan & Health Conditions🏥
Horses usually live between 20 and 30 years and mature at the age of around 3 years, but this does depend on the breed. Similarly, some breeds are more prone to certain conditions than others, and some breeds are generally more hardy.
Male vs Female
Male horses do tend to be bigger than females, as well as typically being more muscular. Males tend to be stronger and faster, but they are more likely to be aggressive than females. Females are usually calmer and are easier to train. This isn’t always the case, however, and castration can help calm a male horse in some, but not all, instances.
3 Little-Known Facts About Dun Horses
1. Dun Coloring Is Caused by a Genetic Mutation
Dun Horses are not a specific breed of horse—rather they are a color of horse, with a lighter body and darker mane, tail, and other primitive markings. The coloration is a lightening of the horse’s color that is caused by a genetic mutation. Although there are very few wild horses left, most of those that do exist are Dun.
2. They Have Dorsal Stripes
A dorsal stripe is a stripe that runs down the middle of a horse’s back from the main to the base of the tail. True Dun Horses have a prominent dorsal stripe, and the color of this strip is darker than that of the body which makes it easy to see and identify.
3. Dun Horses Have Existed for Thousands of Years
There are cave paintings dating back thousands of years, depicting horses and humans living alongside one another, and the horses in these paintings match the Dun coloration, suggesting that the earliest horses, as we know them, were Dun.
Dun Horses are not a specific breed but a color of horse, with the coloring arising as a result of a genetic mutation. Historically, it is likely that almost all wild horses were Dun in color, but the desire for specific breeds as domesticated horses have seen these distinctive markings become increasingly rare. Any breed and type of horse could be Dun, and this is represented by a lighter-colored body and darker-colored extremities.
Featured Image Credit: Luke Wojcik, Shutterstock