Can any horse get dapples? Technically no, but some horses are more likely to than others. Dapples are the textured, concentric rings within the coat, and look like amazing darker circles of coat with a lighter color on the inside. They are commonly spotted along the rumps, and sometimes bellies or necks, of some horses. Dapples can be a sign of good health, but sometimes the overweight horse will dapple. Also know that a horse without dapples does not mean unhealthy.
Dapples are also possible if your horse has the silver dapple gene. This gene is common in Scandinavian breeds, as well as a few American breeds. The silver dapple gene is responsible for diluting the base coat color (normally black).
You may also have a horse that dapples if he is true gray horse. Gray horses are born black, or almost black, and over years and even decades will lighten up and eventually become flea bitten grays. During this process, they spend several years as dappled grays.
Let’s assume you have a non Scandinavian horse that is not gray, but instead chestnut or bay. There’s a chance that he can still display dapples – and it may take some experimenting to find them. This is because genetics is infinitely more complicated than “he has the gene, so he will have them”.
Some horses will dapple in the summer, but not winter. Some will dapple in the winter, but not summer. Some dapple only when fully body clipped. Others never dapple! What definitely helps bring out dapples for the horse that has them is daily grooming, coupled with a healthy diet including omega fatty acids and proper vitamins and minerals.