Appaloosa photo
Photograph by Kersti Nebelsiek. License: GNU.

Appaloosa photo
Appaloosa stallion; horse show, Císa?ský ostrov, Prague, Czech Republic
Photograph by Karakal. Some rights reserved.

Appaloosa photo
Photograph by WarX. License: GNU.


The Appaloosa is a breed of horses that are not only bred for their endurance capabilities and strength but also for the color of their coat and spotting patterns. The Appaloosa club that was formed in the year 1938 in order to revive and preserve this breed is currently the third largest breed registry in the world.

The height of the Appaloosa horse ranges between 14.2 - 15.2 hands. The most distinguishing features of this breed are their mottled skin and muzzle. The white sclera in their eyes encircling the iris is another feature that stands out. Their eye color is brown, hazel or blue. These horses which have a short, but full tail and mane have striped hooves which help us identify this breed easily. They have long legs which are strong and sturdy. The Appaloosas are sure footed horses.

An Appaloosa horse is a hard working creature that has tremendous endurance capabilities. These animals are willing and amenable too. Though at times, they are a little stubborn to handle, once they break their barrier you can see their good attitude. These animals are intelligent and versatile creatures.

14.2 - 15.2 hands

The base color of the coat of an Appaloosa can be black, chestnut, bay, buckskin, palomino, gruello or dun.

The Appaloosa horses are categorized into six distinct groups based on the color of the coat and the spotting pattern. The six categories are “leopard” (base colored spots of different sizes covering the body), “few spot leopard” (base color covered by white patterning – patches on elbow, knee, flanks or head), “blanket” (white color in the hip region that can extend up to the base of the neck starting from the tail), “snowflake” (a dark coat with white spots or flecks), “varnish roan” (head and legs have dark colors) and “frost” (white hair restricted just to the back, neck and loins)

Suitable for
The Appaloosa horses were used as war horses by the Nez Perce tribe. These animals are good ranch workers. They are also used a show horses and for riding purposes. They also find their use in a variety of sports like rodeo, jumping, trail riding and endurance riding. They are also used in certain movies. They are also used for racing and parades.

The Appaloosa is also a horse breed that is a descendant of the horses that were brought to the American soil by Spanish explorers. The Nez Perce Indians who inhabited the northwest inland regions initially started breeding these horses. The breeding of these horses changed their culture and they moved on from being fishermen to hunters. The horses helped them hunt animals with ease since they were fast and sure footed creatures.

When the European settlers invaded their territory, they fought back and used these horses as war horses. Unfortunately this tribe was defeated and the settlers slaughtered a number of their horses. These horses were also indiscriminately bred thus diluting the blood line of this breed.

However, the performance of these horses in rodeo events brought them back to spotlight and people started making efforts to preserve this breed. In 1938, Claude Thompson who was a wheat farmer started the Appaloosa club which today has about 600,000 registered Appaloosa horses.