• Kathy Winkler Studio

Four Shades of Bay


These four bay horses all showed up at the watering tank at the same time. All four horses are different shades of bay. I thought it was rather serendipitous. There were other horses in the pasture, but four bays drinking at the same place at the same time?

There are so many different body colors of horses, e.g., silver dapple, smoky black, smoky cream, white, multi-colored, and on and on. When I approached the pasture to start bringing the horses in for the night (at a facility I once kept my horses), I was simply amused with the four amigos, per se, at the watering hole. My first impression was I wondered what kind of painting this would make? How is it that four “bay” horses are at the watering tank at the same time. Then, I started wondering about how difficult or challenging would it be to create a painting of four shades of bay, since, basically, a bay colored horse isn’t just a bay colored horse. I really wondered if I could paint the obviously four different shades of bay.


For example, for some people observing horses, the word “brown” is used by some of the breed registries to describe dark bays. However, there is a very distinct chromosomal variation that darkens a bay coat to seal brown, but it is not the cause of all forms of dark brown bay. If, one looks at it informally, “brown” horses are actually bay or chestnut. However, with the absence of DNA testing, a chestnut (a reddish body color with no black) and bay can be distinguished from each other by looking at the mane, tail and legs for the presence of black points. I know, I probably gave you more information than you ever cared to know, but just in case you were curious …


The interesting aspect on coat color is that the color is not a solid color; it has variations that may not be distinguishable by ordinary eyesight. A bay is classified as having a reddish coat with black mane, tail and points. But, a bay coat color ranges from light brown to dark red - a wide variety of different shades.


I really have to say, the most incredible part of painting is the knowledge I gather when I research my subject matter. I have been around horses for decades, and always knew the many colors, but never what constituted such minute color details of a “bay” horse. In any event, I loved the four different shades of “bays” I depicted in this painting. Finding nuances and discovering ah-ha moments is what I find so exciting about painting animals.



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