California Riding Magazine • September, 2014

Sommer Ranch Andalusians
The pearl gene was a very colorful discovery at Murrieta breeding and sales program.

Rocoso Dorado, a 2013 PRE buckskin pearl colt sired by Oriundo VG
and out of a Bravio daughter.

Palomino pearl Andalusian mare, Guindaleza R.

Established in 1989 by Suzan and Scott Sommer, Sommer Ranch is the U.S. birthplace of some fascinating genetic history. It all started with their copper bay PRE stallion, Bravio, when he produced what appeared to be perlino and cremello foals when bred to palomino and buckskin mares.

These first babies arrived in the early to mid-90s and were a complete surprise, not only to Sommer Ranch, but also to the equine genetic community. These foals broke all the then-known rules on color breeding. Bay bred to buckskin or palomino should not have produced a double dilute looking horse.

Unfortunately the technology of the time was not ready for these unusual colored horses and it took almost a decade before they could even think about getting answers to the mystery. During that time period, an unrelated chestnut mare, Chica, surfaced that could also produce foals that looked double dilute. At first, their unique foals were said to have inherited the Bravio/Chica mutation gene and the increasing number of odd colored babies eventually drew the interest of geneticists and UC Davis.

Based on Carolyn Shepard's hypothesis that there was another gene residing on the same allele as the cream gene, UC Davis went to work. With the help of hairs pulled from Sommer Ranch horses, the pearl gene was officially discovered. It was also determined that this gene was the same rare and unique gene found in a handful of Quarter Horses, then known as the "Barlink Factor;" a gene originally passed down from their Spanish ancestors and now collectively known as "pearl."

Genesis, by the Bravio son, Balitor,
with his mother Guindelza R, at 3 weeks of age.

Patina de Bravio Oro, a 2011 PRE buckskin pearl filly sired by
Oriundo VG and out of a Bravio daughter.

Although there is no set standard and variations can be observed, it is Suzan Sommer's personal experience with homozygous creams, homozygous pearls and cream/pearl combinations in the Iberian breeds that the double creams tend to be much lighter with little to no color change between their body color and their mane/tail color. The cream/pearl horses continue to have lighter body color but their mane/tail color tends to have a much deeper, bronze hue, which is also seen on the legs. And the double pearls are usually a bright, metallic color ranging from vivid gold to bronze or platinum with eyes that tend to be green ... not the blue of the double creams or cream/pearls. But it is the unusually brilliant shine to them that really sets pure pearls apart from any other color. (Contact Suzan for photographic examples of pure pearl Andalusians.)

Oriundo VG, the imported PRE smokey black sire is part of the current stock
of cream and cream pearl foals at Sommer Ranch.

Genesis, a purebred Andalusian of "pure pearl" color, pictured at approximately 18 months of age, when the muted apricot colored coat
of his youth had turned to the brilliant shine of adulthood.

The pearl gene is recessive. A horse with a single pearl gene and no cream, will have no outward color effect. That horse, like Bravio, would have to be DNA tested in order to determine if he/she carries pearl. But this secret treasure hidden inside can open up a world to many new color combinations including buckskin pearl (like Sommer Ranch horses, Patina and Rocoso Dorado), palomino pearl (like Guindaleza R) and smokey black pearl (like their new 2014 arrival Oso de Oro). Oso is the very first PRE smokey black pearl bred and born in the United States just as Genesis was the very first U.S.-bred purebred Andalusian homozygous pearl (also born at Sommer Ranch).

These distinctive, almost one-of-a-kind, horses are a common sight at Sommer Ranch in Riverside County's Murrieta and several PREs are currently being offered for sale. Sommer Ranch also stands the imported smokey black PRE stallion, Oriundo VG, sire to Patina, Rocoso Dorado, Oso Oro and many other PRE offspring of notable colors.

Oso de Oro, a smokey black pearl colt (no grey). He was sired by Oriundo VG and is out of a Bravio granddaughter. Oso de Oro is the only smokey black pearl PRE in the U.S., Suzan notes.

Sommer Ranch has been offering their nationwide referral program for Iberian horses since the early 90s. Suzan welcomes the opportunity to help educate equine community members on these special colors and how to breed for them while maintaining the integrity of the PRE breed standards.

Article provided by Sommer Ranch. For more information on sale horses and breeding stallions, visit, call 951-304-0437 or e-mail