Part II the few-spot leopard by gyvwpsjkko


									                                               Part II: the few-spot leopard
                                              By Robert Lapp and Gene Carr

       magine yourself as an Appaloosa                  Mom as you ponder, What am I going to          years of research and study, he coined a
       breeder back in the 1960s. It’s early            do with “this”? No stallion potential for      strange new word and introduced Appa-
       spring, the calves are hitting the               sure, and who wants a white gelding? (see      loosa breeders to a new coat pattern de-
ground—but you’re anxious about some-                   photo A).                                      scription—the few-spotted leopard: an
thing else. Your blanketed mare, bred to a                Fast-forward to November 1972. You           Appaloosa with leopard parentage but
nice leopard stallion that was a regional               open your newly arrived Appaloosa News         only a few spots. He said these horses
award-winner last year, is close to foaling.            and while thumbing through the pages, a        had produced leopards and other coat
Your hopes are high; you saw some of his                picture catches your eye. It’s a nearly all-   patterns with striking color contrast,
colored babies in last fall’s futurity.                 white horse—a spittin’ image of the baby       nearly 100 percent of the time (see pho-
   It’s early morning. The horses are gath-             you gelded the decade before and sold at       tos B and C).
ered near the gate waiting for breakfast,               public auction. Above the picture in bold         You read on, but are skeptical. Nearly
but one is missing. Your mare is by herself             type is a caption with words neither you       everyone regarded a “white” horse as a
far back in the pasture. You can’t see any              nor anyone else had ever heard or seen:        misfit or cast-off, a genetic mistake hav-
baby but you just know the time has ar-                 “Few-spotted leopards.”                        ing little or no market value. Many, if not
rived—and your walk quickens.                             You ask yourself, What’s that? and start     most, colts were gelded, although the few
   The mare isn’t grazing. She’s just                   reading the story, wondering how a “leop-      that were kept as stallions prompted little
standing there, looking ahead and then                  ard” can have only a few spots.                interest from breeders. An Appaloosa
down toward the ground. She whinnys                                                                    with such coloration (or lack thereof ) fit
as if to announce something, and then                                                                  the prevailing belief, which was more an
you see it and think, What’s this? It’s near-           A GENETIC BREAKTHROUGH                         uninformed genetic assumption: If a
ly all white. Where are the spots? And a stud             Our co-author, Gene Carr, wrote that         nearly all-white horse had no spots, it
colt to boot.                                           article and described what was complete-       couldn’t produce them; it was a plight to
   You’re more than a little disappointed.              ly unknown years ago on that early             be suffered until the next breeding when
   Baby is up now and moving closer to                  morning out in the pasture. After 12           hopefully, you’d have better results.

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FROM WHITE TO BRIGHT                             more brilliant contrast of color is on foals
   Misunderstood at the time, this “white”       from solid mares. So, if a white horse
Appaloosa was actually a storehouse for          turns you off, fear not, for you aren’t like-
yet-unborn color, but nobody knew it or          ly to get one.”
thought to take a closer look.                      Co-author Robert Lapp got to know
   Not long after publication of Gene’s ar-      this advertiser—who died recently—while
ticle, and despite continuing skepticism, a      writing about few-spotted leopards in the
few Appaloosa breeders took heart and            late ’70s. The breeder was generous
built their programs around few-spot             enough to send many pictures of highly
leopard stallions. One stallion ad in par-       colored foals—all by his stallion crossed
ticular captured the flavor of the times. It     primarily on solid-colored Appaloosa and
told the whole story of the few-spot’s ge-       Quarter Horse mares. Along with only a
netic coloring power in only a few words.        handful of others, following publication
   The breeder’s ad included an interest-        of Gene’s tradition-breaking article, he
ing statement: “Does a white horse turn          added more evidence to our understand-                Photo A
you off? Me too, really, because I like          ing of Appaloosa color genetics, and espe-
spots. But, what do we expect of a stal-         cially the few-spotted leopard.
lion? To sire foals with halter conforma-           As more breeders began using few-
tion, athletic ability, disposition and color.   spotted leopard stallions and mares, sto-
   “It’s well known now that few-spotted         ries detailing their results appeared in
leopards (almost-white horses) sire nearly       Appaloosa News and the rest, as they say, is
100 percent color from all mares. The            history. (see photos D and E).

  FYI: ApHC registration terms
                                                                                                       Photo B

  By ApHC Registrar Shonda Nelson

     The terms “leopard,” “few-spot leop-         white Appaloosa coat pattern is large
  ard” and even “near-leopard,” “near-            enough that it can be confused with a
  few-spot leopard,” “no-spot leopard,”           truly white horse, and the correct base
  “peacock leopard,” “heavy leopard”              color is difficult to distinguish.
  and “light leopard” are commonly used              For example, a few-spot leopard born
  in the Appaloosa industry. However,             with bay roan patches and bay spots
  because of the difficulty in defining a         should be described with a base color                Photo C
  leopard and the differing opinions with-        of bay roan, and an Appaloosa coat
  in the equine community, the Appaloosa          pattern of “white over entire body with
  Horse Club does not use these terms             few bay spots.” Because the horse was
  when describing Appaloosas for regis-           born with dark-colored patches and
  tration purposes.                               spots, the base color of the horse is not
     In fact, leopards, or few-spot leopards      white, even though the horse may contin-
  are not even described as “white” hors-         ually roan as he ages until he appears to
  es with colored spots or colored roan-          be all white.
  ing. The majority of these horses are              The Registry’s classifications of
  born with varying amounts of dark               Appaloosa characteristics, anatomical
  patches, or roan hairs in various points        locations of possible Appaloosa coat
  on their bodies. For Registry description       patterns, face and leg markings, base
  purposes, you should determine the base         colors, and seven commonly used terms
  color of the horse from the dark spots, or      for Appaloosa coat patterns are locat-
  roan hairs. The Appaloosa coat pattern          ed on our web page at www.appaloo-
  is the “white” or “white with spots” that, under Registrations and Guide
  covers the horse’ body. Sometimes, the          to Identifying.                                      Photo D

                                                                                                 A p p a l o o s a J o u r n a l • Ma rc h 2 0 07   43
                                                       PASS THE “WEBSTER’S,” PLEASE                    • Usually dark, but sometimes white-
                                                          What, then, are few-spotted leopard            tipped ears
                                                       Appaloosas? Why are they called few-spot        • Dark or roan partial face markings
                                                       leopards? What are their visible and defin-     • Mottling mixed with dark hairs around
                                                       ing characteristics? And how would I              the muzzle, although the mottling
                                                       know if I really had one?                         may be only slightly visible on some
                                                          The few-spot is basically a nearly all-        few-spots
                                                       white Appaloosa having varying amounts          • The size and location of the dark-col
                                                       of dark patches or roan hairs located at          ored areas can vary significantly on any
                                                       various points on its body. It may have on-       given animal
Photo E                                                ly a few spots—sometimes only one or               While these visible characteristics de-
                                                       two, sometimes none—but a few more are          fine the few-spot leopard coat pattern,
                                                       possible. It must be the product of an Ap-      we’re intrigued by what appear to be
                                                       paloosa-to-Appaloosa breeding with at           “anomalies.” We know of past and current
                                                       least one leopard parent somewhere in its       stallions that appear to be completely
                                                       pedigree. More often than not, however,         white. Although we haven’t seen these
                                                       the leopard appears in the first, second or     Appaloosas live and up-close, very good
                                                       third generation.                               pictures from different angles seem to in-
                                                          Contrary to what was earlier thought,        dicate they have none of the characteristic
                                                       producing a bona fide few-spot doesn’t          few-spot markings.
                                                       require an immediate leopard parent or a           We’re continuing to investigate these
                                                       high concentration of leopard breeding.         Appaloosas because they have been and
Photo F                                                Few-spots don’t develop their “spots” or        are currently advertised as few-spot
                                                       dark patches later in life. They’re born        leopards. One critical note: Their pedi-
                                                       with them, although the markings may            grees and production records have al-
                                                       roan with age to the point of being bare-       ready been examined and fit quite clear-
                                                       ly visible.                                     ly the most basic requirements for iden-
                                                          The pattern was originally labeled a         tifying a few-spot/ homozygous Appa-
                                                       few-spotted leopard by Gene, and was in-        loosa: They have Appaloosa x Appaloosa
                                                       tended to describe a horse’s color pattern.     parents, a leopard pedigree and 100 per-
                                                       Nowadays however, the words few-spot or         cent color production.
                                                       few-spot leopard are quite common and              A quality few-spot leopard, misunder-
                                                       appropriate, even when they refer to the        stood in an earlier era, has now become a
                                                       horse by saying, “It’s a few-spot.”             much-sought-after breeding animal.
Photo G                                                   While not common to virtually every          Considering the ApHC’s new show eli-
                                                       few-spot, the following characteristics oc-     gibility rules and ongoing difficulty of
                                                       cur in various combinations and represent       producing colored foals consistently from
                                                       the defining phenotypic (visible) indica-       non-characteristic Appaloosas or cross-
                                                       tors of a legitimate few-spot leopard pat-      bred animals, that nearly white foal we
                                                       tern (see photos F, G and H):                   saw one early morning out in the pasture
                                                       • A few spots, usually found on the under-      can now be greeted with, “Wow—I’ve got
                                                         side of the belly, on lower portions of the   a few-spot!”
                                                         body or, often, near the knee or hock
                                                       • Leg patches, sometimes extending above           Editor’s note: Last month in Part I, Robert
                                                         the hocks and/or knees                        and Gene addressed nine myths of Appaloosa
                                                       • Dark hair or splotches behind the elbow,      color genetics.
                                                         and on the flank just ahead of the stifle        Next month in Part III, they’ll talk about
                                                       • A dark mane/tail or dark hairs scattered      the snowcap Appaloosa pattern.
                                                         throughout the mane or tail                      Be sure to watch for our companion articles
                                                       • Dark patches or roan hairs on the un          later in the year featuring the latest in lab-
                                                         derside of the neck, usually extending to     based research involving Appaloosa genetics,
Photo H                                                  the throat                                    including color and night blindness.

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