With their gorgeous coat patterns and lively personalities, it’s no wonder the Appaloosa horse is one of the most popular color breeds in the world. Their distinctive spots create mesmerizing patterns, and these gorgeous horses bring home ribbons in both western and English disciplines. Even if your Appaloosa sticks to trail riding or looking pretty in a pasture, there’s a lot to admire about these gorgeously spotted horses.
With so many variations, we can stare at their photos all day long. Here are 20 of our favorite Appaloosa images for you to drool over.
Appaloosa Coat Patterns
Appaloosas are a “color breed,” and they come in various colors. Base colors can include black, chestnut, buckskin, dun, bay, palomino, and grulla. Their uniquely spotted coats are also grouped into different patterns recognized by the Appaloosa Horse Club.
Snowflake: A dark base coat is adorned with white spots and flecks.
Leopard: A white horse with dark spots distributed all over the body.
Blanket/Snowcap: A solid white section covers the horse’s hip area to contrast the rest of the coat’s base color.
Blanket with Spots: A blanket pattern with dark spots within the large white area.
Varnish/Appaloosa Roan: A version of the leopard complex, a varnish roan has intermixed dark and light colored hairs.
Frost/Roan Blanket: A blanket pattern with the addition of roaning over the horse’s croup and hips.
Spots make Appaloosas easy to pick out of a crowd, but coat pattern isn’t their only interesting characteristic. The Appaloosa Horse Club recognizes three other distinctive characteristics.
Mottled or Parti-colored Skin: Along with their spotted coats, Appaloosas also have mottled, splotchy, or speckled skin. It’s most often on their muzzle, genitals, and around the eyes. A solid-colored horse can sometimes be registered as an Appaloosa if it has this skin characteristic.
White Sclera: The sclera is the white area of the eye. In most horse breeds, you can’t see the whites of their eyes unless the horse is rolling their eyes or you pull back their eyelid. In Appaloosas, the sclera is more visible even when the horse is looking straight on.
Striped Hooves: It’s common for Appaloosa horses to have light or dark stripes on their hooves.
A Horse For (Almost) Any Job
Most Appaloosas stand 14.2 – 15.2 hands tall and have an athletic build similar to a Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse. That isn’t the rule, however. Appaloosas come in several different body types and excel in a long list of disciplines.
They’re a favorite in western riding and often do well in barrel racing and working with livestock. Their endurance also makes them great for long-distance trail riding. For English riders, Appaloosas can also perform well in eventing, show jumping, and fox hunting.
Changing With Age
You can’t always tell what an adult Appaloosa will look like when it’s born. It’s common for their spots to change color, shape, and number as they age.
This is especially true for the snowflake and varnish roan color patterns. These horses will mostly likely grow up to look completely different than they did at birth.
A Native American Legacy
The Native American Nez Perce people are the main contributors to the Appaloosa breed. They lived in Washington, Oregon, and western Idaho before foreign settlers arrived. By the early 19th century, they were well-known for their quality Appaloosa horses.
The Nez Perce even had a hand in naming the breed. The spotted horses were originally called “Palouse horses” in reference to the river that ran through Nez Perce territory. With time, that name evolved into several variations. There was Apalouse, Appalucy, and Apalousy before the current version took over.
Do you have an Appaloosa horse? We’d love to see! Share you horse’s picture with us for a chance to be named our Horse of the Day!
Want to see more gorgeous horses? Check out these gorgeous Paint Horses next!
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