The Appaloosa is one of the most recognizable horse breeds, thanks to its distinctive spotted coat. Similar to American Quarter Horses and Paint Horses, Appaloosas are typically considered a “stock” breed hailing from the western part of the U.S.

The history of the Appaloosa dates much further back, however. From cave drawings to Chinese, Persian and European artwork, leopard-spotted horses appear across many centuries. It is theorized that Appaloosas were included in the horses brought to North America by the Spanish conquistadors, and, like the forerunners of Paint and Quarter Horses, escaped and formed the wild horse herds of the American West. The Appaloosa was discovered by the Nez Perce on the plains of the Palouse region–hence the eventual name of Appaloosa. The Nez Perce selectively bred these horses; however, the breed was almost lost after the horses were confiscated upon the Nez Perce surrender to the U. S. Cavalry. A small group was determined to preserve these horses, and through their careful efforts, the Appaloosa was saved.

What Does an Appaloosa Look Like?

Overall an Appaloosa should be balanced with a muscular build. The head should be straight and lean with prominent eyes. The neck starts with a clean throatlatch and blends into well-muscled sloping shoulders with prominent withers. The back is short and straight, and the underline is long, leading to smoothly covered hips that are long, sloping and muscular.

Color and Coat Patterns

The base coat color can be any one of many different colors and can include dilutes, duns, grays, roans and other modifying types. Eyes may be any color, including (but not limited to) blue, hazel, green, brown, amber and black. Coat color patterns may vary from a solid pattern, meaning no spotting at all, to multi-spotted to blanket-hipped with no spots. Patterns

and markings are extremely varied and found in many sizes and combinations, with great variations in areas with white backgrounds. No two Appaloosa horses are identically marked.

The modern Appaloosa has adapted to use in all disciplines from show, ranch, trail and

pleasure to parades, polo, racing and jumping. These distinctive equine athletes are true all-around horses. For more information, visit