Breed Organization Appaloosa Horse Club ApHC Website:
http://www.appaloosa.com Native Country United States of America Other Names N/A Average Height 14 to 16h Adult Weight 950 to 1,250 lbs. Rider Experience Level It varies on level of training.
Breed Description Although Appaloosas are most commonly
recognized by their colorful coat patterns, they also have other
distinctive characteristics. The four identifiable characteristics
are: coat patterns, mottled skin, white sclera, and striped hooves.
The Appaloosa Horse Club recognizes thirteen base coat colors. It is
not always easy to predict the color a grown horse will be from the
shade it has as a foal. Most foals are born with lighter colored
coats than they will have when they shed their baby hair with the
exception of gray horses, which are born dark and progressively
become lighter. A remarkable aspect of the Appaloosa is the myriad
of color and pattern combinations they can exhibit. The seven common
terms used to describe Appaloosa coat patterns are blanket, spots,
blanket with spots, roan, roan blanket, roan blanket with spots, and
solid. Appaloosa patterns are highly variable and there are many
which may not fit into specific categories easily.
Mottled or partli-colored skin is also an Appaloosa characteristic.
Mottled skin is different from commonly found pink (flesh-colored or
non-pigmented) skin in that it normally contains dark areas of
pigmented skin within its area. The result is a speckled or blotchy
pattern of pigmented and non-pigmented skin.
is the white area of the eye, which covers the entire eyeball except
the cornea - the colored or pigmented portion. The white of the
human eye is an example. All horses have sclera but the Appaloosa's
is white and usually more readily visible than other breeds. Readily
visible white sclera is a distinctive Appaloosa characteristic
provided it is not in combination with a large white face marking,
such as a bald face.
Many Appaloosas will have bold and
clearly defined vertically light or dark striped hooves. However,
vertical stripes also may result from injury to the coronet or found
in association with a white marking on the leg. Also, light colored
horses tend to have thin stripes in their hooves. As a result, all
striped hooves do not necessarily distinguish Appaloosas from
non-Appaloosas. The Appaloosa is an average sized light horse with
most standing 14.2 to 15.2 hands at the withers and weighing about
1000 lbs. The modern Appaloosa continues to display the same
qualities so highly valued by the Nez Perce and the early
frontiersmen -- versatility, endurance and temperament.
History The Appaloosa's heritage is as colorful and
unique as its coat pattern. Usually noticed and recognized because
of its spots and splashes of color, the abilities and beauty of this
breed are more than skin deep.
Appaloosas are found in
nearly every discipline. Setting speed records on the race track,
excelling at advanced levels of dressage, jumping, games, reining,
roping, pleasure, endurance and as gentle family horses - any of
these roles can be filled by the versatile Appaloosa. Their
eager-to-please attitudes and gentle dispositions make them a
pleasure to work with in any area.
recognized and appreciated the spotted horse throughout history.
Ancient cave drawings as far back as 20,000 years ago in what is now
France depict spotted horses, as do detailed images in Asian and
17th-century Chinese art.
The Spanish introduced horses
to North America as they explored the American continents.
Eventually, as these horses found their way into the lives of
Indians and were traded to other tribes, their use spread until most
of the Native American populations in the Northwest were mounted
The Nez Perce of Washington, Oregon and
Idaho became especially sophisticated horsemen, and their mounts,
which included many spotted individuals, were prized and envied by
other tribes. Historians believe they were the first tribe to breed
selectively for specific traits - intelligence and speed - keeping
the best, and trading away those that were less desirable.
When white settlers came to the Northwest Palouse region, they
called the spotted horses "Palouse horses" or "a Palouse horse."
Over time the name was shortened and slurred to "Appalousey" and
During the Nez Perce War of the
late 1800's, Appaloosa horses helped the Nez Perce avoid battles and
elude the U.S. Cavalry for several months. The tribe fled over 1,300
miles of rugged, punishing terrain under the guidance of the famed
Chief Joseph. When they were defeated in Montana, their surviving
horses were surrendered to soldiers, left behind or dispersed to
settlers. Nothing was done to preserve the Appaloosa until 1938,
when a group of dedicated horsemen formed the Appaloosa Horse Club
for the preservation and improvement of the diminishing spotted
Behavior Appaloosas are found in nearly every
discipline. Setting speed records on the race track, excelling at
advanced levels of dressage, jumping, games, reining, roping,
pleasure, endurance and as gentle family horses - any of these roles
can be filled by the versatile Appaloosa. Their eager-to-please
attitudes and gentle dispositions make them a pleasure to work with
in any area.
Health Appaloosas have an eightfold greater risk of
developing Equine Recurrent Uveitis (ERU) than all other breeds
combined. Up to 25 percent of all horses with ERU may be Appaloosas.
Uveitis in horses has many causes, including eye trauma, disease,
and bacterial, parasitic and viral infections, but ERU is
characterized by recurring episodes of uveitis, rather than a single
incident. If not treated, ERU can lead to blindness, which occurs
more often in Appaloosas than in other breeds. Eighty percent of
all uveitis cases are found in Appaloosas with physical
characteristics including roan or light-colored coat patterns,
little pigment around the eyelids and sparse hair in the mane and
tail denoting the most at-risk individuals. Researchers may have
identified a gene region containing an allele that makes the breed
more susceptible to the disease.
Appaloosas that are
homozygous for the leopard complex (LP) gene are also at risk for
congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB). This form of night
blindness has been linked with the leopard complex since the 1970s,
and in 2007 a "significant association" between LP and CSNB was
identified. CSNB is a disorder that causes an affected animal to
lack night vision, although day vision is normal. It is an inherited
disorder, present from birth, and does not progress over time.
Studies in 2008 and 2010 indicate that both CSNB and leopard complex
spotting patterns are linked to TRPM1.
Function Appaloosas are used extensively for both
Western and English riding. Western competitions include cutting,
reining, roping and O-Mok-See sports such as barrel racing (known as
the Camas Prairie Stump Race in Appaloosa-only competition) and pole
bending (called the Nez Perc Stake Race at breed shows). English
disciplines they are used in include eventing, show jumping, and fox
hunting. They are common in endurance riding competitions, as well
as in casual trail riding. Appaloosas are also bred for horse
racing, with an active breed racing association promoting the sport.