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The Camarillo White Horse is a United States horse breed recognized by its pure white coat color and pink skin. The body is compact and muscular, with a clean-cut head and well-arched neck. The Camarillo White horse is not a gray horse that gets white with age; it is born white and remains white throughout its lives.
The breed was founded in California by Adolfo Camarillo in the 1920s. Camarillo bought a 9-year-old Spanish mustang stallion named Sultan at the California State Fair in Sacramento, and Sultan became the foundation sire for the Camarillo White horse breed. Adolfo Camarillo’s daughter Carmen continued her father’s legacy, and the Camarillo family owned and bred horses until the death of Carmen in 1987.
The Camarillo White horse is a prominent symbol of the city Camarillo, and can be seen depicted on city street signs, vehicles, banks, shops, and more. The Camarillo Chamber of Commerce sports a Camarillo White horse as a part of its insignia.
Unlike many other white horses, the Camarillo White horse does not carry the genes for Lethal white syndrome, which causes death in newborn foals.
Examples of breed characteristics:
- Pure white coat
- Pink skin
- Compact yet refined build
- Strong limbs
- Well-defined withers
- Laid-back shoulders
- Clean-cut head
- Well-arched neck
- Expressive face with large eyes
In 1921, the prominent land owner Adolfo Camarillo purchased a Spanish mustang at the California State Fair. The stallion, born in 1912, was shown by the Miller & Lux cattle ranch and bore the name Sultan.
Camarillo bred Sultan to Morgan mares at this ranch, and thus developed the Camarillo White horse breed. From the 1930’s and onward, the Camarillo horses were staple at parades and other festivities in the region, such as the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Santa Barbara Fiesta Parade.
When Adolfo Camarillo died in 1958, his daughter Carmen continued the breeding of Camarillo White horses, and showcased them local events. According to her wishes, the horses were sold at public auction after her death in 1987.
The Camarillo White Horse Association
By 1991, only 11 Camarillo White horse remained. The following year, the Camarillo White Horse Association was created to save the breed from extinction. Since the number of extant horses was so small, the stud book is open to prevent issues with inbreeding. Only one parent is required to be of original Camarillo stock; the other parent can belong to any of a number of approved breeds, including certain Andalusian and Standardbred bloodlines.
The association also maintain a separate registry for non-white foals belonging to the bloodline.
About White horse genetics
The white W gene is dominant. If a foal inherits one from each parent (WW) it will die in the womb. All living true white horses are therefore heterozygous (Ww) for the gene. To avoid WW, true white horses are typically bred to non-white horses. When a (Ww) horse is bred to a non-white horse, there is a 50% chance of the foal being white (Ww) and a 50% chance of the foal not being white. To most breeders, this is preferably over mating two true white horses with each other, since that brings a 50% chance of a white foal (Ww) and a 50% chance of a foal that dies in the womb (WW).