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American Paint Horse Facts You Might Not Have Known

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By far the easiest to recognize horse is the American Paint Horse. The splashy markings makes them a favorite for many riders, both in and out of the show ring. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t appreciate a flashy black and white or a stunning palomino Paint. But how well do you really know the Paint Horse? The following are 8 fun facts about the American Paint Horse you may not know.

Lovely paint horse with western bridle

#1 – New World, New Horse

“Spotted horses” were first mentioned in 1519 by Spanish Explorer Hernando Cortes, whose historian recorded these colored horses in his diary. They originally called them “Pintos.” Why they developed in the Americas is not known. (www.apha.com)

Bay pinto horse run fast in green spring meadow

#2 – The Comanches Favorite

These spotted horses were a favorite among the Comanche Indians, who had large herds of them.  Images of them are found on painted buffalo robes of the Comanches. (www.apha.com)

Paint horse stallion looking

#3 – Many Names, One Horse

Before the 1950s, these horses were called by many names including Pinto, Paint, Skewbald, and PieBald. The Pinto Association solidified the name “pinto” in the late 50s and then The Paint Association was established in 1962 for stock-type, spotted horses.

Running paint horse mare

#4 – World-Over Popularity

Today, the American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second largest equine registry – people just can’t get enough of these beautiful horses. Over one million Paint horses are registered, with about 15,000 being registered annually.

#5 – Each One’s Unique

Much like a zebra’s stripes, each paint horse has his own unique markings. No two are alike.

Paint horse stallion

#6 – All Paints Are Pintos, But Not All Pintos Are Paints

While some use this term interchangeable, they are actually two different horses now. The Pinto is any breed of horse that has spotting – Arabian, Saddlebred, Miniature horse, etc. The Paint horse is a specific breed of horse that, in order to be registered, must have a sire and dam that are registered with American Paint Horse Association, the American Quarter Horse Association, or the Jockey Club (Thoroughbreds). Therefore, all Paints are Pintos because they meet the requirement of “any spotted horse,” but not all Pintos are Paints because they do not all have Quarter Horse, Paint or Thoroughbred bloodlines.

Interested in seeing more photos of paint horses? Check out our popular article 15 Breathtaking Images Of Paint Horses.

An American Paint horse in the pasture.

#7 – Colored With White Spots

People often ask if Zebras are black with white stripes or white with black stripes. Well, the Paint horse is a colored horse with white spots. They carry special genes that cause certain types of spotting “patterns” that give them their unique look. A horse can carry more than one spotting gene. (www.press.apha.com)

Running Paint Horse

#8 – White Paints

There is such a thing as a white paint! While white horses are rare, the gene is actually dominant and it can occur in Paints. Even more interesting, is the horse may actually have a paint (spotting) pattern but it won’t be visible because the base color is white as well. These horses are born white and have dark eyes and pink skin, which separates them from a gray horse. They are not genetically similar to an Overo Lethal White Syndrome foal. But, most likely, you will not ever seen one, they are that rare. (Shown below is a grey Pinto, as an example. It is not a Paint). (www.press.apha.com)

Interested in learning about another fascinating horse breed? Check out our popular article Percherons: The Fascinating Backstory Behind Our Favorite Cold-Blooded Giants

american paint horses

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