Horse Colors, Patterns And Markings

Blood Bay Horse: Color, Info, Images, Characteristics, & FAQ

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Did you know that blood bay is one of the rarest shades of bay? Despite its rarity, blood bay is one of the most well-known shades of bay, often getting confused with standards like mahogany and cherry bay. Learn more about the intriguing debates surrounding these vibrant equines.

Blood bay is a striking color variation of the base color bay. The coat color bay comes in a handful of different shades and it can be hard to identify which is which.

On top of that, there is no strict guideline as to names for the bay color variations, and opinion on the shade of bay can vary slightly.

Some circles may call a lighter blood bay horse a cherry bay or a dark blood bay horse a mahogany bay. But I see them as separate shades.

In this blog post I will go over the characteristics of a blood bay horse, the genetics behind the color, quick tidbits of info about the color, blood bay vs. bay, an image gallery of blood bay horses and more.

What is a Bay Horse?

Bay horses are not a breed of horse, they’re a certain horse coat color.

The body of a bay horse is reddish-brown. The mane, tail, legs below the knees and hocks, ear tips, and sometimes the muzzle of a bay horse are black. Bay is a common coat color for many types of horses .

The black points of a bay horse are essential to identifying it as such. If a horse has a coat that is brown or almost black but does not have black points, it is not a bay. There are many shades of bay, from a very light golden color to a very dark brown.

Blood bay with dapples

Characteristics of the Blood Bay Horse Color

Blood bay horses have black points like any other bay horse but the reddish brown coat color is a deeper red, more vibrant, and resembles the color of blood, sometimes in certain lights giving off purplish or plum hues.

Blood bay is a medium bay color, despite some horse blogs saying they are a darker bay shade that is almost black. I also read some blogs saying that blood bay is one of the second darkest shades of the bay.

In my opinion, I don’t think so. I can name a few shades darker than Blood Bay off the top of my head: seal brown, black bay, dark bay, or mahogany bay.

Mahogany Bay is another shade similar to Blood Bay but much darker. I am curious if the other blogs I have read were confused by Mahogany Bay and Blood Bay.

Blood Bay Horse Genetics

There is no known difference in genetics between a blood bay and the average bay horse. Simplified to the basics, a bay horse has a dominant Agouti gene (A) that pushes back the black color in the Extension gene(E).

There is more to it and wild bay and seal bay have been thought to have a slightly modified Agouti gene. But for blood bay, it is the plain standard agouti gene, just a shade variation. There are other known genes involved in creating the more vibrant bay coloring.

Info About The Blood Bay Horse

  • Blood bay horses often get confused with standard bay, cherry bay, and mahogany bay.
  • Blood bay is one of the rarest shades of bay.
  • Despite being rare, blood bay is one of the most well-known shades of bay.
  • Blood bay is also known as red bay.
  • Blood bays are seen more in certain breeds such as the thoroughbred, Arabian, and quarter horse.
  • Bay horses have 2 tone coloration when you clip their coat and with blood bays, it is more evident. This is because the base or shaft of the hairs doesn’t have much red in the color whereas towards the end of the hairs, there is much more red coloring. So the bay can look almost dun or more yellowish brown in color when you clip their coat.
  • Fun fact there is a blood bay thoroughbred in the game Red Dead Redemption 2.

Identifying a Blood Bay Horse

  1. First, determine if the horse is bay. Is the horse a reddish-brown color with black points? If so, then the horse is a bay.
  2. Does the horse have a richer bay with red coloring and possible purple hues? Doesn’t need purple hues to be a blood bay, but the horse should have a more rich red color than a standard bay.
  3. Is the horse a medium bay color? Not very light and not very dark? A red lighter bay may be a cherry bay, and a very dark red bay may be mahogany. So look for medium red coloring.

Blood Bay vs Bay

The biggest difference between other bay horses and a blood bay horse is the deeper, richer red tones in the coat and like I said before a medium bay color.

The truth of the matter with many of the shades of bay is that there is no exact agreed upon definition or chosen name for them. It comes down to what you learned and your best observations and opinions. Although, with that in mind, the blood bay is one of the well-known shades of bay.

Pinterest Board: Blood Bay Horses

For more images of blood bay horses check out my blood bay horse board on Pinterest.

Photo of Frankel Thoroughbred Race Horse (Wikipedia)

Famous Blood Bay Horses

  • Frankel: A blood bay who was an amazing race horse from the UK. He was a champion and only raced in 14 races, which he won all of before he was retired to stud.
  • American Pharoah: a blood bay thoroughbred racehorse that won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the American Triple Crown in 2015.
  • In Walter Farley’s popular Black Stallion book series, the black stallion gave birth to a blood bay colt who goes on to win many races.
  • Popcorn Deelites: A blood bay who was one of the forty horses who were chosen for the part of Seabiscuit in the film.

Blood Bay Horse Video

Here is a video of a blood bay horse that was from the New Vocations Racehorse Adoption program, so you can get a better sense of what they look like.

Unique Blood Bay Horse Names

If you have or are getting a blood bay horse and you are trying to think of some color related names here is a few names to consider.

  • Chilli
  • Hot Pepper
  • Hot Tamale
  • Ginger
  • Rowan 
  • Blaze
  • Sienna
  • Phoenix
  • Garnet
  • Cinnamon
  • Auburn
  • Rusty
  • Sangria
  • Scarlet

Blood Bay Horse FAQ’s

What Color Is Blood Bay?

Blood bay is the color bay but also a shade within the color bay. It is a vibrant reddish brown color with black points on the mane, tail legs and ear tips.

What Does A Blood Bay Horse Look Like?

A blood bay coat looks similar to the color of blood, though not exactly. Aside from the black points the body is a reddish brown and can have purple hues in the coat. The blood bay has a much more vibrant color than a classic bay horse.

Are Blood Bay Horses Rare?

Yes although blood bay horses are well known in the horse world and a much liked color, it is a rare shade of bay.

Wrapping Up

Next time you see a bay horse you should be able to tell if it is a blood bay or not.

You now know all about the shade called Blood Bay, but what about all the other shades of bay? Be sure to read my article about bay horses . It goes into more detail about the color, genetics, and different shades that bay horses can come in.

There are many horse coat colors to learn about and how to identify, so be sure to check out the blog’s horse color category under the About Horses section in the menu!

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Disclaimer Notice: Please be aware that horseback riding and related equestrian activities carry inherent risks. The advice and experiences shared on this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional training or advice. Ensure your safety and that of your horse by wearing appropriate gear, practicing safe horse handling, and consulting with certified equestrian professionals. Remember, each horse is unique, and techniques may vary accordingly. Always prioritize safety, respect, and patience in your equestrian endeavors.

Kacey Cleary Administrator
Kacey has been an equestrian since 1998. She was a working student at several eventing and dressage barns. She has owned horses, leased horses, and trained horses. Kacey received an A.S. in Equine Industries from UMass Amherst, where she rode on the dressage team. She was certified with the ARIA and is licensed to teach riding in MA. She has been a barn manager and has run her own horse farm.
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