What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


White Hair appears on Body, Head, Face or Elsewhere


White hair appears as a consequence of skin injuries such as saddle sores or freeze brands. When white hair develops, color-producing cells in the hair follicle have been lost, resulting in hair with no pigment.

Patches of white hair under tack is a clue to poor fitting saddles and tack. It can also be a clue to infections and other skin disorders. Older horses experience a gradual roaning (increase in white hairs) of the coat. There is not much to be done to counteract this process.

There are also several rare and poorly understood conditions in which white hair appears in an abnormal way, the so called leukoderma/ leukotrichia and vitiligo syndromes.

  • Code Yellow

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your role


What To Do

Assess the area for wounds, heat or swellings. If this condition is accompanied by any other abnormalities, contact your vet with your findings and concerns. Send a photo of the condition to your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet assesses the pattern of white hair development, and the underlying skin. They assess general health, environment and management. In some cases they may take skin biopsies or other samples for laboratory testing.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Where is the white hair located?
  • Is the white hair in a location where it could be associated with pressure from saddle or tack?
  • When did you first notice this problem?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • Does the horse's general health seem good to you otherwise?
  • Do you know of a prior injury to this area?
  • Are there noticeable skin lesions, crusts or scabs in the area?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
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further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP