Roan refers to a coat color pattern of horses distinguished by a combination of white and colored hairs on the body with solid-colored points on the head, mane, lower legs, and tail. Roan horses can have an even mixture of white hairs with any other color. The true roan color occurs at birth, although it is hardly visible until the foal coat sheds. Roans may slightly darken or lighten from winter to summer, but they do not turn progressively lighter with maturity.
The horse’s underlying coat color occurs in combination with roan to produce different shades, including the blue roan (roan with a dark background coat), red roan (roan with a chestnut base), and bay roan (roan with an underlying bay coat). Roans also occur with lighter base colors, like the palomino roan and buckskin roan.
An unusual characteristic of roan horses is that their coat grows back in solid colors (devoid of any white hairs) when their skin is cut or damaged. Reverse dappling is another trait in roan horses in which lighter dapples appear instead of the typical darker ones. The American Roan Horse Association is responsible for defining, promoting, and registering roan horses.