Realistic Horse Genetics

122,812 Downloads Last Updated: Mar 1, 2021 Game Version: 1.16.5

Realistic Horse Genetics


 Realistic Horse Genetics adds biologically accurate genetics for Minecraft horses.

SEE AVAILABLE FILES HERE, and you can also search by Minecraft version from there. If this is your first mod, make sure you have installed the correct version of Forge.



Horses can be dun, palomino, bay, black, buckskin, chestnut, gray, roan, white, pinto, leopard spotted, and many other colors. If this is all new to you, don't worry, just breed the colors that you like and there's a good chance you'll get more of them. You may even get an unexpected color from recessive genes.

The color genes include extension, agouti, dun, cream and pearl, gray, silver dapple, tobiano, roan, frame overo, splashed white, sabino and dominant white, leopard complex, and mushroom. These genes are testable in real life and likewise they can be tested in game by using a book on a horse. There are also hidden genes, not testable, controlling traits with genetics that are not known in real life. Flaxen, seal brown, sooty, rabicano, shade variation, and how quickly or slowly a gray horse changes color are all affected by these hidden genes.


Speed, health, and jump strength:

In vanilla Minecraft, it is sometimes easier to just find a good horse than to breed one. With genes controlling the stats, there is actually a reason to breed. Horses will typically spawn with stats that are pretty close to average. However, foals are just as likely to be better than their parents as they are to be worse. This is an important difference from the vanilla system, where once the parents are very good their foals are almost always worse than them. That means once you have good horses, it is easier to breed very good horses with genes than with the vanilla system. In exchange, you need to be careful - there are some pairs of horses that will always produce foals that are exactly as good as them, never better nor worse. This happens if horses are too inbred. You can avoid inbreeding by keeping a larger population of horses, or if your horses are already too inbred you can reduce it by breeding them to an unrelated horse.

All of the usual ways to measure stats still work, plus you can get more detailed info by right clicking a tame horse with a book.

If for whatever reason you want to use the vanilla system, just set "useGeneticStats" to false in the config.



Horses can have a wide range of sizes. Most that spawn will be 12-15 hands high, but you can breed to get miniature horses, draft horses, or any size in between. Smaller horses can fit in smaller spaces (sometimes even on boats!) while larger horses have more health and can carry heavier riders.

Sizes were added in version 1.5.0, available for MC 1.15 and 1.16. If for whatever reason you want all horses to be the same size, set "enableSizes" to false in the config.



- Genes control color, speed, health, jump height, and size, as described above

- Non-mendelian genetics including chromosome linkage where applicable (read more here)

- Put a carpet in the horse armor slot to use it as a decorative saddle cloth (since version 1.2.1)

- Genetic testing, right click on a horse with a book (since version 1.2.4)

- Peaceful creatures and villagers can also ride the horses. Mount/dismount them using Ctrl + right click. (new in version 1.5.0)

- Horses spawned in village pens have a small chance to start off tamed and saddled (since version 1.2.5)

- Netherite horse armor (for Minecraft 1.16.3 only)

- Highly configurable

Opt-in features, not included by default but edit the config if you want them (see here for how, if multiplayer make sure client and server configs match):

- Genders, including pregnancy. Stallions can be bred much more often than mares. Gender is visible from the horse's inventory screen. (new in version 1.3.2, set "enableGenders" to true)

- All horses are trained to ground tie and will stay still while saddled (since version 1.2.1, set "enableGroundTie" to true)

- Foals can grow gradually into their adult size and shape (since version 1.2.6, set "foalsGrowGradually" to true)

- Change how long foals take to grow up. By default it's one day as in vanilla, but I think two days works nicely. (new in version 1.2.6, change "growTime" to the desired value)


For tack, I recommend Misteriawolfe's Horse Tack mod.


Thanks to faainleog for many lovely textures!

Thanks to KevinBevin and Thea2176 for translating to Danish, Robbie2345 for translating to Dutch, Endless for translating to Polish, and Regenherz and Hufflepp for translating to German!

Thanks to RosaNera for drawing the rabicano texture

Thanks to Mnesikos for helping back port changes to 1.12

The horse model is based on Minecraft's 1.12 model, originally created by DrZhark


Right clicking a horse with a book allows you to see detailed information. The first two pages show estimates of traits affecting speed, health, and jump strength. To get more exact info I would recommend also measuring like you would without this mod, by jumping horses over different heights of blocks, racing them against each other, etc.

Breeder's Guidebook showing stat info


This page shows genetic test results for the color genes.

Breeder's Guidebook showing genetic test results


Here's some examples of coat colors and how you can recognize them (though some of these screenshots are old).



Bay horses are brown with a black mane, tail, and lower legs.



Chestnut horses are brown all over, no black.



Black horses are black everywhere. Pretty simple.


Seal brown:

Seal brown horses are very dark but have lighter areas on the flanks and around the eyes and mouth.


Bay dun / yellow dun:

Dun horses are tan with a dark stripe down the back. They have black manes, tails, and lower legs like a bay horse does.


Red dun:

Red dun looks like bay dun but the mane, tail, and lower legs are brown instead of black.


Red roan:

Like chestnut, but with white hairs mixed in on the body.


Slightly sooty palomino:

Body color is golden, mane and tail are white.


Cremello (left) and perlino (right)

Cremellos and perlinos are both so light as to be nearly white. Perlinos tend to have a slightly darker coloration on the mane, tail, and sometimes legs.


Combinations are possible, such as this bay dun roan:



Gray horses are born a darker color and lighten to white as they age. Even when they have turned fully white, you can still tell them apart from a true white horse because the nose is black, not pink.

Graying, 500x speed

A seal brown tobiano (left) and bay with white socks (right) horse graying. The color change shown here happens over the course of 5 Minecraft days (configurable). There is also a config option for horses to stop changing color at a certain age, by default 15 years.

Gradual graying is new as of version 1.2.x.



Unlike gray, the nose is pink. White is hard to tell from cremello especially with the Minecraft eyes, so to tell which you have you may want to try a breeding experiment. Breed the white/cremello horse to a chestnut horse. If the mystery horse is cremello, the foal from that pairing has to be palomino. If the mystery horse is white, there is half a chance the foal will be white and half a chance the foal will be some other color. If the mystery horse is sabino white (white from two copies of sabino rather than from one copy of dominant white), the foal will be sabino.


Bay tobiano:

This is a bay horse with white in the tobiano pattern. Tobiano is just a pattern of white and can go with any base color; this one just happens to be bay. Tobiano tends to have large, circular areas of (non-white) color, and tends to leave the head, chest, and flanks colored.


Black frame overo:

A black horse with white in the frame overo pattern. Frame overo tends to have white areas on the face, neck, and sides, but generally leaves a darker "frame" of color around the white, as seen from the side. It's not a good idea to breed two horses together if they both have the frame overo pattern because there is a 25% chance the foal will have Lethal White Syndrome.


Chestnut splashed white:

This chestnut horse has the splashed white pattern. Splashed white tends to leave horses looking like they ran through white paint.


Seal brown sabino:

This specific sabino pattern, Sabino 1, tends to put white in very irregularly shaped patches, and often adds individual white hairs spread throughout the coat so even the colored areas look lighter.



In some cases no one knows what the genetic control for a trait is, so I looked at the available evidence and took a guess. This let me add more traits like flaxen, liver, and sooty. The genetics behind these might not be quite the same as in real horses, but I tried to get it as close as I could. Seal brown falls in this category as well.


Flaxen chestnut / blond sorrel:


Liver chestnut:

Sooty bay:



Quick overview of the genes you can see in the book:


    E - black

    e - red (chestnut)


    A - bay or brown

    a - black

Agouti has no effect on the color if extension is e/e


    D - dun, light in color with a dark stripe down the back

    nd1 - Non-dun 1, not dun, "dark" (normal) color but stripe down the back still visible

    nd2 - Non-dun 2, not dun, "dark" (normal) color


    G - gray (will turn white with age)

    g - not gray


    + - normal

    Cr - cream

    prl - pearl

    sn - snowdrop (a very rare and recently discovered dilution)

Silver dapple:

    Z - silver dapple

    z - not silver dapple

KIT: This is sometimes also called the white locus

    + - normal

    To - tobiano

    Rn - roan

    Sb1 - sabino 1

    W - any variant of dominant white that makes the all or most of the horse white, dominantly. I don't distinguish between W1, W2, W3, and W4.

    W20 - increases white markings

    To+W20 - both tobiano and W20 combined on the same allele, see here

Frame overo:

    O - Frame overo / lethal white syndrome

    + - normal

MITF (splashed white):

    + - normal

    SW1 - splashed white 1

Leopard complex:

    + - normal

    Lp - leopard complex

Pattern 1:

    + - normal

    PATN - pattern 1


    + - normal

    mu - mushroom

LCORL has normal and large alleles, which are self-explanatory, and likewise HMGA2 has normal and small. Most genes affecting height are still unknown, and height is not entirely genetic.


This should be enough to at least get you started, but by all means look online for more complete descriptions. This website: shows you what the different genotypes look like, though it isn't exactly the same because there's a few unknowns in horse genetics.



 Vague update plans:


Stuff to be added eventually, no promises as to when:

donkeys and mules

better handling of horses with multiple spotting patterns and general white pattern variation


Stuff I want to add and may or may not get around to:

zebra dun

champagne dilution

gaits including pacing and ambling

cohesive herd spawning and/or breeds

eye colors


This is not a complete list of what is planned.




Where can I learn more about horse genetics?

UC Davis has a good overview here, and Wikipedia has an overview of coat colors here and more about the genetics here.

This interactive website shows what the different genotypes look like, but beware because they do include some genes that are speculated but not proven to exist.

The Appaloosa Project is one of the most reliable sources of information about the leopard complex patterns.


How can I make the horses pull the Astikor carts?

Edit the astikor carts config file and add horse_colors:horse_felinoid to the lists of entities that can pull the carts. As of Minecraft 1.16.3, Astikor carts accepts these horses by default with no configuration needed.


How can I summon a horse with custom stats?

See the explanation on the wiki.


What genetic diseases can the horses have?

I've added only genetic problems linked to coat colors.


    Frame overo / lethal white syndrome - Frame overo is a type of pinto pattern. Frame overo horses are perfectly healthy, but if two are bred together, the foal may (25% chance) inherit two copies of the gene, which give it lethal white syndrome. Foals with lethal white syndrome are born white and die at a young age.

    MCOA - Silver dapple is linked to Multiple Congenital Ocular Abnormalities, basically the eyes can have some problems. MCOA can show up in horses with a single copy of the silver dapple gene but tends to be worse in horses with 2 copies. Mildly affected horses usually have normal vision, so in game the effect is just that the horse will have a lower max health.

    Equine melanoma - The gene for the gray coat color also causes equine melanoma.This seems to be much more common in horses with two copies of the gray gene than in horses with just one. Equine melanoma caused by gray is typically benign, which means usually the problems it causes are the sort you get from having a lump where there's not supposed to be a lump. So in game, this just decreases max health by a small amount. As the horse gets older there is a chance the melanoma could turn malignant, but Minecraft does not have old age so this will not happen in game. Since the rate of equine melanoma is highly variable between breeds, with breeds that gray out faster and more completely having a higher rate of melanomas, I've also made some risk factors heritable in game.

    Deafness - The splashed white gene sometimes causes deafness because it removes pigment from hairs in the inner ear. In game, this means the horse has a slightly lower max health.
     Congenital stationary night blindness - This is caused by having two copies of the leopard complex gene. Horses with night blindness will move very slowly and carefully in the dark because they cannot see, but they are fine when there is more light.

    Equine Recurrent Uveitis (ERU) - This is an autoimmune condition affecting the eyes. It may actually be two separate diseases, one caused by infections by a certain bacteria, and the other linked to the leopard complex gene. The one that appears in game is the one linked to leopard complex (Appaloosa horses). There is probably also at least one other genetic risk factor, which I have included. In real horses this is often painful and can sometimes lead to blindness. In game, it decreases max health.


Equine diseases are . . . really not my cup of tea, but it's important to be aware that these coat colors can have consequences.






Realistic Horse Genetics has a discord! Join to see sneak peeks, ask questions, or show off your horses.