I think Appaloosa horses
are super fascinating. No wonder they are a favorite of horsecrazy girls!
Known for their colorful and leopard spot-patterned coats, they are the most popular in the US.
This breed has been around for a long time. Lots of ancient artwork show that these horses were originally domesticated in Ancient Greece, Persia, and China. They were popularly used in parades, for riding, and as coach and horsemanship horses and were especially preferred by noble and royal families.
During the 16th century, they were brought to the US by Spanish conquistadors and, from there, the breed spread from Mexico to California and Oregon.
The Nez Perce were the first people to use and become very fond of Appaloosa horses in the US. They called them “Palouse Horses,” after the Palouse River that ran through the center of the Nez Perce country.
The population of this beautiful breed declined when the Nez Perce lost many of their horses in the war of 1877. It was not until 1937 that the preservation of this breed was encouraged by Francis D. Haines.
Characteristics of the Appaloosa Horse
Aside from its patterned
coat, the Appaloosa horse is known for other distinct physical
characteristics – mottled skin or partly-colored skin, striped hooves
and white sclera. They also have straight lean heads, wide foreheads,
medium pointed ears, deep chests and long sloping shoulders. These
horses are usually 14 to 16 hands high with an average weight of 950 to
Coat colors range from bay, brown, black, dun, palomino, chestnut, gray, to bay, blue and red roan.
There coat patterns include: Cape/Blanket, Snowcap, and Leopard
As mentioned earlier, the Appaloosa horse is the most popular breed in the US. In fact, these horses have been adopted by the state of Idaho in 1975 and are considered "official state horses."
Appaloosa horses are widely used for Western and English riding today. In fact, you've probably seen them in early Western TV shows and movies. A few famous ones include Cojo Rojo (The Appaloosa, 1966) and Zip Cochise (El Dorado, 1966). You might want to ask your parents about these movies – they’re way before our time!
But aside from Western and English riding, horses from this breed are also used for barrel racing, pole bending, fox hunting, show jumping, eventing, endurance and trail riding as well as for horse racing.