Sorrel vs. Chestnut : Comparative Analysis


Sorrel vs. Chestnut : Comparative Analysis

There are many different colors of horses, and it is common to get confused about them. The majority of you might be under the impression that all red-colored horses are sorrels, but is this true? Let’s figure this out. 

Sorrel and chestnut are different colors of horses. The basic difference between the two is while sorrel is true Red in color. However, the coat color of chestnut horses can vary from reddish-brown to deep shades of Red. 

The term sorrel is more commonly used in the United states, chestnuts are usually found in Europe. In addition to coming from different parts of the world, they also have other differences, which we will discuss in a later section. 

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Sorrel vs. Chestnut Difference

Comparing ParametersSorrelChestnut
Coat ColorThey are bright Red in colorThey can be any shade of red, usually of darker shades of red
Color of body hairThey usually have black hair on their bodyThey have no black hair
Place of OriginThey are usually found in AmericaThey are usually found in Europe
Mane and TailThe manes and tails of these horses are similar to coat colors The mane and tail are usually flaxen colored
Different ShadesSorrel, Blonde sorrel, light sorrel, chestnut sorrel are few of the shades of sorrel horsesLiver chestnut, flaxen chestnut, palominos, carmellos, red roans are few of the shades of chestnut horses
Sorrel vs. Chestnut Difference

What are Chestnut Horses?

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After black horses, chestnuts are another popular coat of horses that can be found in most horse breeds. Let’s find out what exactly chestnut horses are.

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This coat tone is one of the most well-known coat tones on most sorts of horses. From palominos, Carmelo’s, to liver chestnuts, they come in a wide range of shades and are most popularly found in Europe. 

Although they don’t have black hair or markings on the body, they are popular for their white markings on the body. Chestnuts horses are valid varieties, so they are in every case liable to deliver a chestnut foal in case they are reproduced together. It is likely that one of the parents must not have been a chestnut if the colt is any other color.

What are Sorrel Horses?

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Being red in color, sorrel horses usually resemble sorrel flowers and have the same genetic identity as chestnuts. Let’s find out what exactly sorrels are and how they look. 

Sorrels are bright Red in color without any black markings. They are typically found in America and come in different shades like blonde sorrel, chestnut sorrel, and light sorrel. 

Sorrel vs. Chestnut Coat Colors

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Now that it is clear what sorrels and chestnut horses are, let’s find out the difference between these two. 

The color of sorrel differs from that of chestnut. It looks like bright orange or copper-colored chestnut and is a light red color. Sorrel is a variation of chestnut, which is a dark red base color. 

Sorrel vs. Chestnuts Mane and Tail Colors

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Manes and Tails are not only the essential but the most attractive parts of horses. They make them look attractive and beautiful. Let’s find out the difference between sorrels and chestnuts, mane, and tails.

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Sorrels have same-colored manes and tails, while chestnuts don’t. It is also possible for sorrels to have lighter shades of red on their tails and manes. Since chestnuts have different colors, so do their manes and tails.

The difference between sorrels and chestnut horses

You must have heard the popular phrase, “All sorrel is a chestnut, but not all chestnuts are sorrels.” Let’s find out what distinguishes sorrel from chestnuts. 

Chestnut horses with a lighter red color are sorrels. The only difference is sorrels have the same color or lighter shades of mane or tails as chestnut horses. 

On the other hand, sorrels have black hair on their coat while chestnuts don’t. Additionally, sorrels have the same color or slightly red manes and tails, whereas chestnuts have different colors of manes and tails, with most of them being flaxen and liver chestnuts.

What are different shades of chestnut horses?

It is the different shades of sorrel that make it different from chestnut. Let’s examine these shades in more detail.

Here are some colors of horse coats that are genetically Chestnuts-

  • Liver Chestnuts
  • flaxen chestnut
  • palominos
  • carmellose
  • red roans
  • gold champagnes

Liver Chestnuts-

Liver chestnuts are the darkest and chocolate-colored horses. Their color ranges from dark red to almost black. Their mane and tail are also red. However, a true liver chestnut horse would have lighter coats around its lower legs than its body. 

Flaxen Chestnuts-

In horse lingo, a flaxen chestnut horse refers to a chestnut horse lighter than manes and tails.


In palominos, a dominant cream gene is present on the base of a chestnut. There is a complete absence of red in their coats and their coats are golden in color.

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Carmello’s are made by two cream genes that impact a chestnut base. Their cream-colored coats, blue eyes, and pink skin make them look beautiful and attractive creatures. 

What is the Genetic Difference between Sorrel and Chestnut Horses?

Chestnut and sorrel horse colors are genetically the same, with the only difference in distinctions being the appearance of the horses’ colors.

Horses with the genotype ee are generally chestnut in color. On the other hand, sorrel horses are a recessive extension of genotype “e.” 

The genetic composition of a chestnut horse and a sorrel horse is the same.Red coats are the aftereffect of recessive genes, so any horse brought into the world with a red coat would have to have two genes that cause the shading.


Sorrels and chestnuts have a beautiful appearance and are common among several horse breeds. Though the term sorrel and chestnuts is not widely accepted, it is usually known as an equine with a lighter and darker reddish coat. So, if you are planning to ride or buy a horse, the above distinctions between sorrel and chestnuts will allow you know the horses more accurately.

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