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Where the fleas don’t bite

Even when greys are extensively fleabitten, some areas of the coat tend to have noticeably fewer spots.

A white-grey gelding with extensive fleabiting on the top of his neck, back and hips

In the previous post, the grey horses had a common type of fleabite distribution: a concentration around the eye. As the image above shows, however, not all fleabitten greys have dense markings around the eyes. In fact, while it is a little unusual, some are like this horse and have very little flecking on the face. 

a close-up of the face of the previous horse, showing very few fleabites

However, this horse does display an aspect of spot distribution in fleabitten greys that is common. That is the tendency for the ventral area – the chestnut, belly, and insides of the legs — to be less densely spotted. This horse shows this in a particularly dramatic fashion. His undersides and even the lower part of his hindquarters are almost entirely white-grey, making it look like the fleabites were splattered over his topline.

another view of the previous horse showing the unspotted areas of his coat more clearly

Viewed from the front, the spotting pattern is like a cape that wraps around the neck and shoulders but stops short of the underside of the neck and chest. The absence of spotting on the front of the face is also common, especially with this type of distribution.

the previous horse shown from a 3/4 front view, with spotting over his shoulders but the remaining coat white-grey

This type of distribution, where fleabites are sparser in the ventral areas, is often more subtle. However, it is common even in greys that are densely fleabitten.

two photos of the same heavily fleabitten horse, one of his face and neck and the other showing his chest from the front, which has fewer fleabites

a fleabitten grey Arabian with a mostly white-grey chest

a close-up of the belly and buttocks for the previous Arabian, showing very few fleabites
This is the same Arabian as the previous photo. His belly and inside of his buttocks have very few spots. (The dark area is from sweating.)

Like many aspects of horse color, the More-On-Top-Less-On-Bottom distribution of fleabites is a common tendency rather than an absolute rule. Like the one below, the patterns on some fleabitten greys don’t seem to follow any particular logic. The areas with dense spotting and those without appear pretty random. Notice how his topline is mostly clear except for the cluster of large spots on his loin. Likewise, the base of his neck and the jugular groove are spot-free, but the side of his neck is densely spotted. If an artist painted this spotting pattern, it would look like they tired of adding the details and stopped before the work was completed!

a white-grey gelding with irregular areas of fleabites

a close-up of the hip of the previous horse

There is another typical distribution pattern for fleabiting, which will be the topic of the next post. It is one of my favorites, and it will also lead us into more observations about this color variation.


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