The Various shades and types of colouring which are recognised as Buckskin occur in a variety of breeds of horses. Here in N.S.W. the dominant breeds of horses registered by the Buckskin Horse Association are the various pony breeds (Welsh, Australian, Miniature etc) Quarter Horses, Australian Stock Horses and Part-breds of various registries. The Association also registers horses of unknown breeding.

Buckskin is essentially a body coat colour which includes golden coloured hair and black skin with a black mane and tail and black or dark brown points. The term Buckskin covers all the variations that occur in these basic colours.

The colour probably evolved as a camouflage against predators and some breeds, such as the Sorraia from Spain, only exhibit this colouring.

Crosses with Arabian types, these horses contributed the colour to many of the animals moved to the Americas with Spanish explorers. The colour is common in many breeds of ponies, such as Welsh, Austraian, Highland and Connemara. The Norwegian Fjord is a pure dun coloured breed.

In Australia, the colour came with the first breeds imported with the early settlers and particularly with ponies imported from Timor and the Cape.
These animals were particularly popular for their hard feet and bone, stamina and doing ability.

There are many examples within the Australian Stock Horse and Australian Pony.

Horses, like people, come in many sizes, shapes and colours. Possibly the most difficult task in our Association is that of our classifiers. This article is written to help you, the member, understand what horses we register and why.

A true coloured Buckskin should be the colour of golden, tanned deer hide with black points. Shades of Buckskin may vary from pale cream to light gold to dark gold to chocolate. Points (mane ,tail, legs) can be dark brown or black. Guard hairs grow off the body coat up over the base of the main and tail. The hairs are Buckskin coloured with frosting which is a collection of lighter hairs streaked through the mane and/or tail. A dorsal stripe may be present in the Buckskin but is not very wide or prominent.

A Seal Point Buckskin is a form of standard Buckskin with a set of pale brown rather than black points.

A Burnt Buckskin is a dilute brown and similar to a buckskin only with extreme dark shading of black or brown hairs throughout and will sometimes appear to have a smutty base.

A Smokey Black (previously referred to as Black Buckskin) is a dilute black and can only be distinguished from a black by its genetic base.

Dun is an intense colour which is a dark hide with an abundance of pigment in the hairs. Dun differs from Buckskin in the respect that the body colour is a duller shade and will sometimes have a smutty appearance. In general, Dun horses have dark points and sometimes even black points. Occasionally a dun will be classified with light points. The very distict shoulder stripe and dorsal stripe belong to the dun and there will be leg barring. Duns vary in body shades generally leg barring, shoulder stripe and dorsal stripe are of the same colour as the mane and tail. The dorsal stipe is always present in the Dun.

The family of Duns fall into the following three categories:-
GRULLA  (pronounced grew-yah) is a Dun gene working to change a black body coat. The body colour is described as a mouse colour or blue or dove or slate coloured with black points. The hide of the grulla is comparable to the hide of the dun and is well pigmented to withstand heat, pressure and sunlight.
Grullas have dorsal stripes, leg barring and shoulder stripes. The darkest shade of grulla is barely distinguishable from the true black.

RED DUN is a Dun gene working to change a chestnut body coat. These will vary in body shades of red with darker red points and mane and tail. Leg barring and shoulder stripes are common on the red dun. A dorsal stripe is predominant ranging from dark red or brown in colour. The face will often show a mask and wither shadowing is common, frosting and socks are accepted.  

YELLOW DUN is a Dun gene working on a bay body coat. The colouration can be similar to that of a Buckskin but the Dun will have a very prominant dorsal stripe, leg barring and a flat tone to the body colour.

Dun can alter any base colour. Other examples are Palomino Dun (Dun + palomino), Dunskin (Dun + Bickskin)


The Dun Factor points as specified for a Dun Factor Class at a show are:
1.Distinct prominant Dorsal stripe
2.Leg barring
3.Ear tipping and edging
4.Shoulder stripe or shadowing
5.neck shadowing and barring
7.Face mask
8.Mane &/ or tail frosting and guard hairs
10.      Back barring

No one body colour is preferred. The horse exhibiting the most examples or more prominently than another with equal number of points of the above mentioned points will be declared the winner.
White markings are not prohibited – but point will be deducted at the judge’s discretion.
Confirmation is not to be considered in a dun factor class. Horses are not given workouts in dun factor classes.


Dorsal stripe – may be black, brown or red in colour and will vary according to the body colour. The stripe will run along the backbone from the withers to the tail. Occasionally the dorsal stripe will not run the full length of the backbone. The width of the stipe will vary, the more pronounced the better. A dorsal stripe can occur in any coloured horse but will be most prominant on a true Dun.

Leg Barring – horizontal stripes of varying widths appear across the hocks, inside and front of hind legs, back of forearms and across the knees.

Ear tips & /or Ear edges – the ends of the ears are darker than the body colour. Ears are outlined on the edges or part of the ear is dark.

Shoulder stipes or Shadowing – transverse stripes over withers running down the withers in varying widths and lengths. Occasionally more than one stripe is seen in different length. In some cases a large shadow effect is seen due to a large area covered or stripes close together forming the shadow.

Neck Shadowing – usually dark areas through the neck extending into the hollow of the shoulder. Dark shadowing or dark lines will point down from the base of the mane.

YELLOW DUN the outward appearance is similar to the standard Buckskin with body colour yellow, golden or orange brown but it has a very prominent black dorsal stripe and commonly a shoulder stripe and leg barrings. Legs, mane and tail are black with frosting and guard hairs being common. Sometimes the only difference between a tallow dun and a darker shadow (mask) over the face. Darker shades of yellow dun are known as “wolf dun” or “sable dun”. Wolf dun is more greyish in appearance and has slate toning through it.

COPPER DUN the body colour of a copper dun will have a copper tone. The copper dun is a self colour as is the Buckskin. The points will be chestnut or dark copper in colour. A dorsal stripe must be present. A copper dun will usually show shadowing over the withes in place of the shoulder stripe.

CLAYBANK this is a dilute of the copper dun. The claybank is a lighter shade caused by less pigmentation. The eye of the claybank is amber.
The body colour can be best described as peach dun or faded copper. Being a dilute colour, the colour claybank is in the same category as palomino. Pigmentation continues when dilutes are continuously bred to each other. It is desirable to breed a claybank to an intense colour to produce offspring with more pigmentation.

PERLINO DUN  this is a very light shade of yellow body colour almost appearing to be white. The Perlino Dun has red points. A dorsal stipe with shoulder stripe and leg barring must all be present. The Perlino Dun is a dilute and it also should be bred to intense colours to produce desirable results. The Prelino dun will always have dark skin.

NOTE  Horses appearing to have some dun factor characteristics but not being of acceptable colour are not accepted for registration, Chestnut, grey, bay, sorrel or palomino horses are not dun horses, because they have a dorsal stripe does not make them eligible for registration. 

COBWEBBING ON FOREHEAD – sometimes referred to as chicken feet. Cobwebbing originates under the forelock. Lines extend in varying lengths over the forehead resembling a spiders web. Occasionally lines extend completely around the eye.

FACE MASKING – black, brown or red shading on bridge of nose with same colour, usually around the eyes. The masking effect may spread to the jaw and muzzle or be outlined around the lips and nostrils.

MANE &/ OR TAIL FROSTING – white hairs on either side of mane or inter spread throughout the mane, in the tai, course, white hairs appear at the dock of the tail and they extend down the outside. Frosting always originates at the dock and never from the base of the tail.

MOTTLING – this is not to be confused with dapples on the horse body. Mottling is found on the forearm, gaskin, shoulders and stifles. It appears as a circular motif in shades darker than the body colour. Mottling gives the appearance of reverse dapples.

BACK BARRING – this is dark stripes originating from the spine & extending around the barrel giving a tiger striping effect.

The above characteristics have been collated from real horses. It is rare for an individual to display more than four characteristics, but they will often show at least two. The presence of dun factor markings on a horse does not necessarily make the horse a Buckskin.

Hair Testing

For the benefit of our NSW Buckskin members we would like to inform you that hair testing is available. Please contact the secretary for more information.