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Some of the first art created by primitive man depicted horses–and still, to this day, the horse captures our collective imaginations.

The modern horse comes in a variety of breeds and colors. Gobie is a horse I adopted from a local rescue. He’s technically a pony–which means he is under 14.2 hands tall. His breed is indeterminate, called “grade”–he was one of many horses in a herd that was neglected and abused in Western Maryland.

Gobie shares something with those primitive horses our ancestors painted on cave walls–his coloring is an ancient one: dun. The dun coloration has different shades: dun, red dun, and grullo. Gobie is grullo (also called blue dun). One characterization of the dun gene is the presence of what’s called “primitive markings”:

  • Dorsal stripe, which is a dark line that runs down the spine of the horse.
  • Horizontal striping on the back of the legs.
  • Shoulder blade striping or shading.

Most duns have the dorsal stripe, but the leg and shoulder stripes may be faint or non-existent on some horses. And, as you can see from the photos above, awesome mane highlighting can also be a characteristic.

Gobie’s coloring is gorgeous: pewter velvet in the fall and winter, burnished in the spring and summer. But–like our cave-dwelling counterparts–what draws me to my primitive pony isn’t just aesthetics: it’s his whole self, his intrinsic being, his spirit. No wonder the bond between man (woman!) and horse has spanned over thousands of years.

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