by Carolyn Shepard
In the study of what "is" champagne, one also needs to address what "is not" champagne. Several horses have been presented to me over the past several months as "possible champagnes" who are not. All of these horses are related to the Paint stallion, Barlink Macho Man, a chestnut splashed white/frame overo. The Barlink factor dilution gene is not champagne, but can mimic it. I believe this gene has not yet been described in the literature. It appears to work as an incomplete dominant, similar to the cream gene, and also enhances the cream gene, as does champagne.
In single dose, the Barlink factor appears to dilute the skin of the carriers. The chestnuts with submitted photographs have pink speckles on their otherwise black skin, very similar to what happens on many cream dilutes. The gene is not cream, as these mares do not demonstrate the cream gene when tested by UC Davis. With a single Barlink gene, the coat color does not seem to be affected.
In double dose, the Barlink factor appears to dilute the hair coat to a medium dilute shade (similar to one cream or one champagne gene), and dilutes the skin to near pink.
The Barlink factor appears to enhance cream, essentially causing a double dilution of the hair coat, skin and eyes. This would cause the phenomenon of pseudo-cremello and pseudo-smoky cream foals. I have not yet seen the effect on buckskin, but it is likely a pseudo-perlino would result.
While this proposed new Barlink dilution gene can resemble champagne, it is not. Thus, future Barlink related horses submitted for registration with the ICHR will be scrutinized more closely, and will need to demonstrate champagne in the immediate pedigree before being accepted into the registry.
Barlnk Peachs N Cream appears to have two doses of the "Barlink factor," one from each of her Barlink parents. Her skin is diluted to near pink with darker freckling, which closely resembles champagne skin. Her hair coat appears single dilute, and is similar to a palomino or gold champagne. Both of her parents are chestnut, and likely each carry a single dose of the Barlink factor. Owned by Carol Schneider.
These two foals (below) are single cream dilutes (palominos) with an added Barlink factor from their chestnut dams. Their resemblance to cremello is uncannily accurate.
END OF C. SHEPARD'S ARTICLE
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