What Are Ermine Spots?
Ermine spots on a horse are black or dark spots that appear in white markings just above the hoof. Ermine spots are also sometimes called "ermine marks." To be an ermine spot as opposed to just a regular spot or mark, ermine spots need to touch the coronary (aka "coronet") band.
Below: Ermine spots, or ermine marks, on a horse.
Below: A different photo showing the same horse as above. From this angle you can see that the horse has several ermine spots on both back legs.
Ermine Spots And Hoof Coloring
If a horse has ermine spots, the spots may affect the hoof coloring beneath them. For example, if a horse with pink hooves has ermine spots the areas of hoof that grow beneath them might be black, or at least darker. This is common, but it isn't a given.
Let's Get Confused: Ermine Spots and Distal Spots
In addition to ermine spots, there's another name for spots on horses called "distal" spots. Both of these types of spots are small and located in areas of surrounding white. After that, there can be disagreement as to how they are defined, where they can be located (only above the hoof or anywhere on the body), and by which name they should be called, ermine spots or distal spots.
Even though not everyone agrees on the definition of an ermine spot, the way we have defined it on this page (black or dark spots that appear in white markings just above the hoof, touching the coronary band) has been in widespread use for a many years, so we're comfortable with using that definition here.
Below: A spot surrounded by white in the middle of a horse's blaze. Depending on who you ask, this spot is called a distal spot or an ermine spot. Not everyone agrees.
How Ermine Spots Got Their Name......A Theory
Here at CowboyWay.com we've been curious for a long time as to how ermine spots on horses got their name. While we've never been able to find an answer to this question, we have formed a theory.
So, here goes our theory about how ermine spots on horses got their name......
An "ermine" (also called a "stoat" or "weasel") is a furry mammal native to North America and Eurasia. It's famous for its luxurious fur that is brown on top and white on the belly during the summer, but beautifully, snowy white all over in the winter except for a black-tipped tail.
Below: A drawing of an ermine in its snowy white winter fur. Notice the black-tipped tail.
In medieval times ermines were recognized for their beauty. Their white winter furs were frequently sewn together, which formed a sort of white-with-black-spots pattern because of their black-tipped tails. In addition to using the actual ermine furs, numerous cloth and tapestry designs of the time were based on an ermine's winter coloring. These types of designs on fabrics were called "ermine spots" or "ermine marks."
So, somewhere along the way, we wonder if the description "ermine spots" and "ermine marks" made the jump from furs and fabrics to horse markings. Remember, this is just a guess. But it's kind of fun to think about.
- Attach A Leather Rope Strap
- Bridle A Horse
- Buy Cowboy Stuff On eBay
- Care For A Silk Wild Rag
- Care For Your Felt Cowboy Hat
- Care For Your Saddle Pad Or Blanket
- Close A Gate With A Chain Latch
- Estimate Cattle Age By Their Teeth
- Estimate A Horse's Weight
- Estimate Western Cinch Size
- Fishtail Braid Your Horse's Tail
- Flatten Cow Horn
- Hydro Dip A Cow Skull
- Make A Collapsible Wood Saddle Rack
- Make A Flag Boot Out Of A Horn
- Make Homemade Hoof Conditioner
- Make Homemade Horse Fly Spray
- Measure A Horse's Girth
- Measure A Horse's Height
- Measure A Western Saddle Seat
- Put A Horn Knot On Your Rope
- Put A Speed Burner On A Honda
- Recognize Common Horse Colors
- Recognize Common Horse Face Markings
- Saddle A Horse
- Stop A Saddle From Squeaking
- Take Horse Pictures
- Tell A Boy Cow From A Girl Cow
- Tie A Honda
- Tie A Horse
- Tie A Quick Release Knot
- Tie A Stopper Knot
Tie a stopper knot for the end of a rope,
or a metal, rawhide, or plastic honda
- Tie A Stopper Knot For A Honda
Tie a stopper knot for a tied honda
- Tie A Wild Rag Knot
- Trim A Bridle Path
- Turn Blevins Buckles Over
- Turn Western Stirrups
- Understand Leather / Hide Thickness
- Weigh A Horse and Optimize Rider Weight
- Whiten Bone
- Wrap A Saddle Horn With Rubber
What Is / Are...
- What Are 5 Reasons Horse Trailer Lighting Matters?
- What Are Chestnuts and Ergots?
- What Are Cowboy Chinks?
- What Are Ermine Spots?
- What Are Horns?
- What Are Horse Blood Marks?
- What Are Horse Vaccines and How Do They Work?
- What Are Horse Whiskers?
- What Are Leads?
- What Are The Parts Of A Western Saddle?
- What Are Saddle Rigging Positions?
- What Are Some Interesting Horse Facts?
- What Are Some Interesting Charts and Graphs With Horse Information?
- What Are Some Options For Temporary Horse Fencing?
- What Are Slobber Straps?
- What Are Synthetic Saddles Made Of?
- What Are The Rodeo Catch Pens?
- What Are The X's In A Cowboy Hat?
- What Are The Three Legal Head Catches?
- What Are Wolf Teeth?
- What Is The Angle System For Branding?
- What Is A Bosal?
- What Is A Bull Riding Vest Made Of?
- What Is A Domain Name?
Why would I need one for my farm or ranch even if I don't have or want a website?
- What Is A Fifth Wheel Trailer Hitch?
- What Is Flag and National Anthem Etiquette At A Rodeo?
- What Is Floating A Horse's Teeth?
- What Is Freeze Branding?
- What Is Freeze Branding......What Do Horse Freeze Brands Look Like?
- What Is A Galvayne's Groove?
- What Is A Gooseneck Trailer Hitch?
- What Is A Headstall?
- What Is A Pony Express Mochila?
- What Is Hermann Oak Leather?
- What Is Larvicidal De-Worming?
- What Is The Flying Gallop?
- What Is The Mark Out Rule?
- What Is A Nord Fork?
- What Is The Rodeo Return Gate?
- What Is Rotational Grazing?
- Horse Tips
Short tips to help horse owners and anyone who lives or loves a Western lifestyle do something faster, easier, or better.
Link To This Page
If you found this page useful or interesting and would like to link to it from your own website or blog, you can use the small code snippet below to make a link. Thanks!
Use ctrl+C in Windows or command+C on a Mac to copy the link.
Below: Like and share this page on Facebook!