The Appaloosa is a horse breed, one of the color breeds, in which the breed has one of several distinct patterns of spots.

Missing image


Historians aren't exactly sure of the origin of the Appaloosa, some believe the Spaniards brought them on their quest for the god, glory, and gold, and others believe that the Russian fur-traders brought them. Both are plausible.

The early Appaloosas were short, sturdy, sure-footed, and fast. The Nez Perce tribe had strict selection policies to encourage traits that can be found in the modern Appaloosa. These traits include temperament, endurance, intelligence, along with a distinctive look.

When the breed was brought to the Americas the Nez Perce fell in love with the breed for its many characteristics. This horse became associated with the Nez Perce, which later caused problems for the breed.

The word Appaloosa originated from the name Palouse River, which runs through the orignal Nez Perce country, evolved a few times until the name Appaloosa was officially adopted by the Appaloosa Horse Club.

Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition wrote of the horses of the Nez Perce in a February 15, 1806 journal entry. "Their horses appear to be of an excellent race: they are lofty, elegantly formed, active and durable: in short many of them look like fine English horses and would make a figure in any country".

When the cavalry captured Chief Joseph and the remaining Nez Perce on October 5th 1877, they immediately took all of the horses and sold all they could, and exterminated the rest. The Nez Perce tribe once again began a breeding program in 1995 to develop the Nez Perce Horse. Their program is based on crossbreeding the Appaloosa and a Central Asian breed called Akhal-Teke. This is a program the Nez Perce Indians hope will resurrect their horse culture, a proud tradition of selective breeding and horsemanship that was destroyed by a 19th century war. The breeding program was financed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Nez PercÚ tribe and a nonprofit group called the First Nations Development Institute, which promotes such businesses.

In 1877 the Appaloosa breed was nearly extinct, but by 1937 the Appaloosa had caught the eye of the public and in 1938 the Appaloosa Horse Club, based in Moscow, Idaho was founded. Idaho adopted the Appaloosa as its official state horse in 1975. Today the breed is one of America's most prized breeds and there are over a million registered horses. More information on the history of the Appaloosa can be found at the Appaloosa Museum (

Physical Characteristics

Because the coloring of the Appaloosa is its primary qualification, there are several body styles found in the breed. There are stock-types, sporthorses, pleasure horses, race horses and some that are very nearly ponies. Because of this wide variety, Appaloosas can happily be used for just about anything.

The physical conformation of the stock-type Appaloosa is generally similar to that seen in the American Quarter Horse, partly because the Quarter Horse was used to "improve" the conformation of the Appaloosa when the breed was being established. Both breeds are powerfully muscled with broad bodies and thick bones. Their build is meant more for short bursts of speed and rapid stops and starts. They are therefore ideally suited to western sports: working cattle, reining, rodeo and playday sports such as barrel racing (Camas Prairie Stump Race) and pole bending (Nez Perce Stake Race) and short-length racing (generally one quarter-mile.)

The stock-type Appaloosa is not the only body type found in the breed. There are some Appaloosas that display more of a sport-horse conformation. They have longer legs, cleaner joints and more grace than sheer power. These horses have been bred to be used in English sports, in particular dressage and English showing.

Most Appaloosas are recognized by their colorful spotted coat patterns, striped hooves, mottles skin (most visible around their eyes and on their muzzle) and white sclera (on most horses this will be black). However, some do not display the typical traits and may appear to be "solid" (sans spots, visible coat pattern or other characteristics generally associated with the breed.) While the original, "old time" Appaloosas also had a sparse mane and tail among its characteristics, today's "modern" Appaloosas generally have thick, full manes and tails. Appaloosa characteristics (

The markings of an Appaloosa are distinct from the dapples seen in grays and some other horse colors. The base color of the horse can be any color, including bay, black, chestnut, palomino, buckskin, dun, grulla, and grey.

  • Patterns
    • Blanket - white over the hip that may extrend from the tail to the base of the neck. The spots inside the blanket (if present) are the same color as the horse's base coat.
    • Leopard - dark spots of varying sizes over a white body.
    • Few Spot Leopard - only a very sparse pattern or dark spots over a white body. Some may have as few as only one or two spots.
    • Snowflake - white spots on a dark body. Typically the white spots increase in number and size as the horse ages.
    • Varnish - dark points (legs and head) and some spots or roaning over a light body. May occur in conjunction with another spotting style and change with age.
    • Frost - similar to varnish but the white hairs are limited to the back, loins, and neck. May occur in conjunction with another spotting style and change with age.


The Appaloosa registries are fairly recent, and the breed was established from unregistered horses with certain color patterns. In addition to the spotting patterns above, certain other characteristics were used to determine whether a horse could be registered:

  • Mottling skin, which is apparent around the lips, eye lids, and genitalia
  • White sclera (a white ring around the eyes)
  • Striped hooves

At the present time, a horse without the color pattern on his coat can be registered with the Appaloosa Horse Club. The registry is based upon the pedigree of the horse reflecting a recognized Appaloosa bloodline. The horse must be the offspring of two registered Appaloosa parents or an Appaloosa and a horse from an approved breed registry. Appaloosas are commonly crossbred with Arabian horses, Quarter Horses, and Thoroughbreds, and these offspring are eligible for registration. When registering a solid-colored horse, it must be blood typed and there must be a DNA link established to both parents. The owner of the horse then must pay to have the horse inspected. The registration papers then indicate that the horse is not colored, but is registered through the Certificate Pedigree Option CPO ( CPO horses can be shown in ApHC approved events; however, CPO horses do have breeding restrictions. A CPO registered horse can be upgraded to regular registration at any time if the horse begins to show a color pattern.

Though there is much debate about CPO, the preface of the ApHC rule book ( states that the Appaloosa is "a breed defined by ApHC bloodline requirements and preferred characteristics, including coat pattern." In other words, the Appaloosa is a distinct breed that also has a color preference. It is not strictly a "color breed" as many people believe.

External links

nl:Appaloosa pl:Appaloosa sv:Appaloosa


  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools