buckskin horse

Buckskin Horse [what color is buckskin? is buckskin a breed?]

Buckskin horses are known for their characteristic tan or gold coat color. Buckskin horses are not a horse breed, they are a color. True buckskins have a black mane, tail, and lower leg markings that contrast their tan or gold coat. These black points give them a distinctive and beautiful look.

Buckskin horses have a unique look, a rich heritage and an intriguing story. Read on to learn more!

What is a Buckskin Horse
What is a Buckskin Horse?

What is a Buckskin Horse

A buckskin is a horse with a gold or tan coat with a black mane, black tail and black on its lower legs (black stockings).

Buckskin is a color, not a breed.

How Do Buckskins Get Their Color?

A true buckskin horse is a result of a single cream gene in a bay horse.

The black base color of a bay horse is mutated by the gene that concentrates the black coloring to the points (mane, tail, lower legs). 

The gene dilution also results in the lightening of the coat color to the signature buckskin tan or gold gene.

The agouti gene determines how much black pigment color a horse will have thus determining if it will have a bay coat or black.

This is due to a double dilution gene in a foal that came from two horses with a single dilution gene (like buckskins).

This is determined through genetic testing. UC Davis offers equine testing for the creme dilution here. 

The N/Cr genotype of a bay base coloring is what leads to the buckskin color pattern. This is done with hair samples collected from the horse.

What Color is Buckskin?

Buckskin is the color of a horses hair or coat. Buckskin is a shade of tan or gold and looks like the color of deerskin, hence the name.

What Color is Buckskin
What Color is Buckskin?

Buckskin horses coats are highlighted with black manes, tails and lower legs.

Buckskin Colors

There are many different buckskin variations but these horses still maintain the standard buckskin characteristic black points and coat color. 

  • Buttermilk Buckskin
  • Dusty Buckskin
  • Sooty Buckskin
  • Silver Buckskin
  • Standard Buckskin (tan)

The different colors depend on the beginning color of the bay horse. There are other colors that can be classified with the buckskin color pattern.

  • Brindle duns
  • Duns
  • Grulla horses
  • Red duns

Buckskin Eye Color

Interestingly, there cannot be a buckskin with blue eyes.

Buckskin Eye Color
Buckskin Eye Color

Most buckskin horses have amber or brown eyes. It is possible to have blue-eyed, light-colored horses, however, they are not buckskins.

Is a Dun a Buckskin Horse?

Despite their similarities, a dun is not a buckskin horse. The dun dilution gene works on red horse colorings as well as black colorings, and dun horses have a distinct dorsal stripe. 

However, dun horses are allowed to register with the International Buckskin Horse Association (IBHA) and the American Buckskin Registry Association (ABRA). 

This includes red dun horses, as well as brindle duns, bay duns, and grullas.

Their distinct stripes and marks are considered to be primitive markings. Primitive markings of a dun horse can also appear across the shoulders or stripes across the legs. 

This is a large source of contention within the community, so it depends on what your horse looks like, along with the regulations of local chapters for registration to buckskin clubs.

Buckskin Horse Origin

Buckskins are of Spanish origin. Long ago the Spanish Sorraia horse was the chosen horse of the Spanish people, but they are not what we consider buckskins today. 

Buckskin Horse Origin
Buckskin Horse Origin

During the Colonial Era, Spanish immigrants brought Sorraia horses over to the New World (North America).

Crossing of these horses with wild horses created what we know today as buckskin horses.

What is a Kiger Mustang?

Kiger wild mustangs are horses located in the Pacific Northwest of North America and are often buckskin color. 

This history leads to the point that buckskin horses are actually working horses. The Sorraia horses from the 1500s were chosen by Spaniards due to their ability to work as pack horses. 

Being prized hard workers, their genes carried over to new generations and that is still a sought aftert trait among buckskin horses today.

Buckskin Horse Breeds

Yes, we did say buckskins are a color, not a breed. But what horse breeds can have buckskin coloring?

Buckskin Horse Breeds
Buckskin Horse Breeds

Here is a short list of horse breds that can have buckskin colors.

  • American Quarter Horse
  • Andalusian
  • Morgan
  • Mustang (wild horse)
  • Tennessee Walking Horse

Famous Buckskin Horses

Famous Buckskin Horses
Famous Buckskin Horses

Perhaps the most famous buckskin horse is not even a real horse! DreamWorks Animation created a film starring Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron! Spirit is an animated buckskin horse! 

Aside from Spirit, there have been other, non-animated, real buckskin horses in the entertainment industry. 

Interestingly, in the TV shows Gunsmoke and Bonanza, Marshall Matt Dillon (“Gunsmoke”) and Ben Cartwright (“Bonanza”) both rode the same horse! 

His name was Buck, and he was a buckskin Quarter Horse! This American horse was the favorite of actors James Arness (Matt Dillon) and Lorne Greene (Ben Cartwright).

O the silver screen, Kevin Costner rode a buckskin horse in the film Dances with Wolves who was named Cisco. The character horse, Cisco, had two horses that played the stallion.

American Quarter Horses, Plain Justin Bar, from Redstone Farm in Texas and Buck from Murdo, South Dakota, which happens to be the state in which many scenes were filmed. 

According to Notes from the Frontier, the Dances with Wolves scene with Cisco bucking around in the corral was not planned. The horse was just excited so they filmed it and ultimately it was included in the final cut.

There are even some horses that are featured in the world of video games. One popular video game, in particular, has a lot of opportunities to interact with horses. 

The video game Red Dead Redemption 2 features a variety of buckskins and duns as options in the playable realm, depending on what you want from a horse in the game.

Are Buckskin Horses Rare?

A horse this unique looking would be pretty hard to find, right? Actually, on the contrary, buckskin horses are not that rare. 

Are Buckskin Horses Rare
Are Buckskin Horses Rare?

The different color variations can range in rarity, but the color pattern as a whole is not largely uncommon.

Buckskin Size

Buckskin horses are roughly fourteen to fifteen hands tall and are generally smaller than average horses. 

Buckskin Horse Characteristics

Buckskin horses are some of the hardest workers you can find. They are also know to have very sturdy hooves, making them ideal to work on varied surfaces and conditions.

Buckskin Horse Temperament

Buckskins generally are easy going, docile and calm. They are a pleasure to work with and great for pleasure rides.

Buckskin Horse Care

Remember, horses are a much larger commitment than ordinary dogs or cats.

Buckskin horses like a diet of grass from pasturelands, barley, bran, hay, rolled oats, and well-prepared forage plants. 

Their unique skin coat and black points does require regular grooming and upkeep.

Buckskin Horse Associations

When you are ready to show off your new steed, there are a few places specifically for buckskin horses. 

Buckskin Horse Association
Buckskin Horse Associations

The top two are the American Buckskin Registry Association (ABRA) and the International Horse Association (IBHA). 

If you own a buckskin horse it makes sense to find a club to join. Clubs and associations are a wealth of information and you communicate with like minded people.

American Buckskin Registry Association (ABRA)

The American Buckskin Registry Association was founded in 1962 with a purpose to collect, record, and preserve the buckskin and dun coloring pedigree. 

ABRA serves as a community of information for American buckskin owners, as well as providing opportunities to exhibit and sell buckskin horses. 

The Association has a variety of tiered memberships to suit all buckskin owners. 

There is also the opportunity to register horses that fall outside of ABRA’s guidelines through their Buckskin Bred program.

American Buckskin Registry Association Charter Clubs

ABRA also has charter clubs that promote ABRA horses and host a variety of activities in the following areas/states:

  • Florida (Northwest Florida Buckskin Horse Association)
  • Idaho (Inland Empire Buckskin Horse Association)
  • Iowa (Buckskin, Duns, and Grullas of Iowa)
  • Kansas (Kansas Buckskin Horse Association)
  • Michigan (Buckskin Horse Association of Michigan)
  • Missouri (Heart of America Buckskin Horse Association)
  • New Mexico (New Mexico Buckskin Horse Association)
  • Oklahoma (Oklahoma Buckskin Horse Association)
  • Texas (Lonestar Buckskin Horse Association)
  • Wisconsin (Dairyland Buckskin Horse Association)
  • Wisconsin Southern (Southern Wisconsin Buckskin Association)

International Buckskin Horse Association (IBHA)

The International Buckskin Horse Association was founded in 1971. Originally titled the International Buckskin Horse Registry with roots in California before moving to Indiana in 1970. 

IBHA is the largest and most forward-thinking registry for buckskin horses. IBHA’s mission is to preserve the pedigree of buckskins and duns. 

They also provide support and activities for the horses and their owners. There are five buckskin membership categories for buckskin owners.  

  • Open 
  • Youth (18 & under)
  • Amateur (19 & over) 
  • Amateur Select (50 & over) 
  • Adult Walk-Trot (19 & over) 

IBHA Charter Clubs

  • Arizona (Arizona Buckskin Horse Association)
  • Illinois (Illinois State Buckskin Horse Association)
  • Indiana (Mid America Buckskin Association)
  • Iowa (Heartland Buckskin Horse Association)
  • Maine (Northeast Buckskin Horse Association)
  • Maryland (East Coast Buckskin Horse Association)
  • Michigan (Great Lakes Buckskin Horse Association)
  • Ohio (Ohio State Buckskin Association)
  • Wisconsin (Upper Midwest Buckskin Association)
  • Wisconsin (Wisconsin Buckskin Horse Association)

You can also look for local buckskin owner groups in your area. 

Buckskin Horse Names

You have to have a great name for your buckskin horse right? Well, here is a list of popular names for buckskin horses.

  • Bambi
  • Buck
  • Buckwiser
  • Cisco
  • Chewbacca
  • Colonel Mustard
  • Fawn
  • Latte
  • Spirit 
  • Moose
  • Rusty
  • Skippy
  • Twinkie

Which buckskin name is your favorite?

Buckskin Horse Rescue

If you are interested in finding a buckskin horse for your very own please consider adopting a buckskin horse from a rescue service your area.

Buckskin Horse Summary

Is a Buckskin Horse a Breed?

A Buckskin horse is not a specific breed, it is a color pattern caused by a single cream dilution gene, often found in bay horses. 

What Color is a Buckskin Horse?

Buckskin horses are characterized by tan or gold colored coats with black points.

Is a Dun Horse the Same as a Buckskin Horse?

No, they are not the same and are often confused. The main difference between dun horses and buckskin horses are the markings featured on duns, either on the shoulders, legs, or dorsal areas. 

Some dun colorings are allowed into associations of buckskins due to the similar dilution genetic.

What are Dun Genetics in a horse?

Dun genetics is basically just describing a color coat that has lightened except for in the mane, tail, lower legs and dorsal stripe areas.

Where did Buckskin Horses Originate?

Buckskins are a result of Spanish horses mingling with wild horses upon coming to the New World. 

Sorraia horses were favored for their coloring and work ethic which has been retained to their buckskin descendants.

What are Some Famous Buckskin Horses?

Famous buckskin horses include Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron from the DreamWorks animated movie.

Buckskin horses were also used in TV shows like Gunsmoke and Bonanza as well as the hit film Dances With Wolves.

Buckskin horses (and duns) are featured animals in the video game Red Dead Redemption 2 that players can interact within the game.

Are Buckskin Horses Rare?

Buckskins are not as rare as believed by the populace. They are generally a small horse in stature but large in their ability to work hard. 

Is there a Buckskin Horse Registry?

You can apply to register your horse with either the International Buckskin Horse Association or the American Buckskin Registry Association, and any of their charter clubs.

Related Buckskin Horse Questions

What is a Silver Buckskin Horse?

Basically, a silver buckskin is a horse that has gray hairs mixed into its coat giving them a light silver type look.

Can a Buckskin Horse Have White Markings?

Yes, some buckskins do have white markings on their lower legs. These are often called ‘white soaks’ on a horse.

Can Black Horses be Buckskin?

No, but a true buckskin horse will have a black mane, tail and lower legs.

How Much Does a Buckskin Horse Cost?

There is a wide range of prices for buckskin horses due to the fact that buckskins can be found in many horse breeds. 

You can expect to pay anywhere from about $1500 to $25,000 depending on the qualities of the specific horse.

What is a Grulla Horse?

A Grulla horse is simply a dun horse that has a grayish coat color. This color is fairly rare.

What is a Grulla horse
What is a Grulla Horse?


A beautiful buckskin horse has long been a prized possession for any horse lover.

buckskin horse

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