The Appaloosa Breed of Horse
The Appaloosa is more about the color and pattern of a horse
than about any other breed standards. The body types of
Appaloosa Horses is consequently far more varied than in
other horse breeds. But the colors and patterns are very
distinctive, so the Appaloosa stands out and is an
attractive, distinctive and striking breed of
The color and pattern of the Appaloosa results from a
genetic plan that creates certain spotting patterns over
particular solid base coat colors. The genetics for the
Appaloosa's patterns, called the "leopard complex mutation,"
has apparently shown up in horses since antiquity, as
similarly spotted horse appear in history from cave
paintings to the American West, where such pattern were
prized by the Native Americans.
All spotted horses are not automatically Appaloosas. A true
Appaloosa should have the distinctive spotting of the coat,
often with dark skin, lighter spots and "halos" around the
spots. There should also be mottling on the skin, especially
around the face and rear, visible white in the eye around
the iris (white schlera), and sometimes striped hooves.
However, a horse may be registered as an Appaloosa if it has
Appaloosa parents, mottled skin and at least one of the
other basic characteristics, so a registered Appaloosa might
actually have no visible coat spots.
Because the identifying characteristics are pattern and
color rather than body type and because a number of horse
breeds went into their breeding, body types vary. Appaloosas
range from 430 to 570 kilograms (950 to 1,250 pounds) and
fourteen to sixteen hands tall. They are never draft or pony
Acceptable Appaloosa horse base colors include black,
buckskin, palomino and its variations, chestnut, roan, bay,
grulla, gray, and dun, and the spots may be darker or
lighter than the base coat. The Appaloosa's spots should be
seen in one of five acceptable areas: the hips, the loins
and hips, the hips and extending up the back up to the
withers, the hips and parts of the body, but not covering
the entire horse, or the entire horse's body.
Foals are often born lighter than they will be when grown,
with gray horses being born darker. Plus, Appaloosa foals do
not always show the spotted pattern at birth, so often the
other characteristics, such as mottled skin, must be used to
determine whether a foal is Appaloosa.
Appaloosas are popular for pleasure riding as well as trail
riding and nearly all competitive sports including racing.
The beautiful Appaloosa has also been very popular in
television and movies, especially Westerns. Several American
horse breeds have Appaloosa ancestry, including the Pony of
the Americas, the Nez Perce Horse, and the Colorado Ranger.
Appaloosas have something to offer everyone, regardless of riding
interest, from trail riding to dressage Appaloosas can do it all!
- Cutting, Reining,
Dressage, Team Roping, Western Pleasure,
Driving, Endurance, Saddleseat, Trail, Huntseat, Combined
Training, Jumping, Gaming and
See in addition to the above: Appaloosa Horse History