What Is A Black Bay Horse? (Answers From 5 Horse Owners and Experts)

With horses colors are so much more complicated then they should be. But horses are definitely complicated animals that are amazing in their own right so it is fitting.

There are many variables that go into what color they are called that include where you live to what color the mane or tail is as well to go along with the main color of the horse.

So what is a black bay horse exactly? 

Although there is some controversy with black bays just like most colors a black bay horse is generally described as being more of a bay then black so it is technically a dark brown and with almost black tint they are also called seal bays.

This may not be enough to answer your question and that is okay that is why we went into more research to hear back and gather data from actual horse owners an their thoughts.

What Is A Black Bay Horse To You?

We gather this information mostly from forums that include Reddit and HorseForum. We corrected the grammar and spelling where it was needed. If you would like to send us your thoughts and opinions on this subject or some other subject be sure to go to our contact page or email us directly at admin@horsefaqs.com

  1. wakiya – Most of the “black bay” horses I’ve seen are genetically brown
  2. verona1016 – I’ve seen the term “black bay” before and perhaps I’m taking it too literally, but a horse cannot be both black and bay. If one of the agouti genes are not present then the horse is black; if any of the agouti genes are present it is some variation of bay. Perhaps he’s a very dark seal bay (aka seal brown or brown) horse. Or maybe he’s a black horse that fades dramatically in the summer.
  3. KigerQueen – Its also called seal bay, and is not actually a bay color, it is technically considered brown.
    This is my seal bay/black bay mare
  4. deserthorsewoman – I was more thinking in German terms, since the horse is Oldenburg lol. We don’t have the term brown or seal brown in horse colors. The only differences in bays,” braun”, are braun( bay), dunkelbraun( dark bay) and schwarzbraun( black bay). Maybe the English term is just the literal translation from German for a German breed
  5. Yogiwick – At the end of the day the horse is either black, bay, or brown. Everything else is a description.
  6. verona106 (another response) -Registries often have their own definitions that aren’t based on genetics. There’s a difference between “classic” bay (A) and seal bay/seal brown/brown (At) that can be seen in DNA. There’s also wild bay (A+), but there’s no test for that at the moment.Just like there are different shades of chestnut (everything from bright coppery red to nearly black liver) there are different shades of classic bay and seal bay. So there is a such thing as dark classic bay that is genetically distinct from seal bay. And you can have two seal bays that are wildly different visually but are (based on our current understanding of color genetics) the same color.

    But from the one picture, I’d guess OP’s horse to be a fading black. What the registry calls it… well that’s another story

    ETA- I’ve seen “black bay” used for Andalusian stud ads, so it’s definitely not just a German breed thing


Examples Of What Horse Owners Call Black Bay



Final Thoughts

So there you have it there is no set definition or exactly what to call this color horse, but the overall standard is either black bay or seal bay. Let us know your thoughts and send us a message and a pic of your black bay/seal bay horse.


I have owned over 50 horses and currently own a small horse farm with 8 horses. I have competed on and off for over 25 years while doing mostly trail riding and cow sorting these days. I write these articles to help anyone out there if you love this article pin it to your Pinterest or Share on other social media platform. Thanks for visiting.

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