Real Horses Who Look Like They Were Dipped In Liquid Gold

Don't fall for all the pretty horses.

He is the most beautiful horse in the world.

This refrain carried breathlessly across the interwebs, alongside an image of a dazzler steed resplendent in a golden coat.

The oohs and ahhs of social media adulation grew to such a fevered pitch, he was even awarded the title of Most Beautiful Horse based on a worldwide vote in some anonymous contest.

Of course, the contest was a phony, as Metaspoon so kindly points out. Evidently, we just got that carried away by those blinding good looks.

Where did this four-legged fable come from? Well, firstly, this horse is real, a stunning specimen of a breed called Akhal-Teke. The horse's ethereal, almost metallic glow actually comes from a unique hair structure, Horse Nation writes, that actually bends, yes bends, light.

At some point, some ardent admirer posted this picture on social media. The world wasted no time in being smitten. Someone got the idea that this horse must have won an award for his beauty - nay, this must be The Most Beautiful Horse in The World.

Cue the social media swoon.

This horse's pedigree hearkens back to ancient times, but the breed has only emerged relatively recently. The Akhal-Teke first garnered worldwide admirers after Turkmenistan was annexed by Russia in the late 19th Century.

Today, the odds of glimpsing an Akhal-Teke, much less owning one, are slim. Recent estimates peg their numbers at around 1,250 worldwide.

But now that we've awakened your lust for gold, may we suggest some other perfectly splendorous options in that shade?

While all that gallops isn't gold - horses come in so many glorious hues - you don't actually have to be a princess to afford a golden mount. Even if the cost of owning a horse is still hardly cheap.

As spectacular as the non-golden variety can be, there's something irresistibly regal about a golden horse. Perhaps, it's the lingering influence of one of history's most notorious horse hoarders, Queen Isabella of Spain - a monarch who banned commoners from owning gold horses.

Or maybe it's the fairy-tale notion that we all grow up with: Heroes may ride white horses, but princesses are always surrounded by gold. A more mundane possibility? Gold makes us look good, as in rich, powerful and privileged.

Well, according to science, your best odds lie with a palomino or a cremello.

As the story goes, Isabella was so fond of golden horses, she owned 100 of them. She sent one of her finest, a palomino stallion, along with five mares, to Mexico in the early 1500s.

Isabella hoped to sow seeds of gold in the New World. And, to some extent, she succeeded. Palominos are enormously popular in America, renowned for their versatility.

"They are to be found in ranching, racing, rodeos, pleasure riding, parades, shows, fiestas, jumping, trail rides, and all other equine activities," writes the Palomino Horse Association on its website.

Isabella, who famously banned commoners from owning the horses, might be rolling in her gilded grave today.

Did we mention this guy was a palomino?

Compared to the deep golden pitch that a palomino can reach, a cremello horse is a considerably mellower customer.

"The cream color can vary from a very pale off white to a richer color resembling a pale gold," writes Horse Genetics.

Not a breed, according to Moonrock Horses, cremello is a color "consisting of a cream-colored body with a cream or white mane and tail."

While a cremello horse is often a study in cream and pink, he often takes on a very light, golden hue - owing much to what's called the, errr... cream gene.

In either case, if you're looking for a golden horse, you will certainly have to pony up. Even if you adopt one - and certainly, there are countless reasons to rescue a horse from dire straits rather than buy one - the costs can add up handsomely.

That said, it's one thing to fall in love with a horse, quite another to buy one. Especially since the horse trade is already a source of such resounding tragedy.

Consider the thousands of horses who are brutalized and abandoned by owners who can no longer afford them. Or no longer need them.

Consider, instead, making a donation to a worthy organization that actually helps horses, gold, black and white alike.

Or, if it's a golden horse you must absolutely must have - if the little princess inside you won't be satisfied with anything less - at least consider the most affordable option of all.