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The Appaloosa is a horse breed, one of the color breeds, in which the adult has one of several distinct patterns of spots.

Spotted horses were known and prized in Europe, before horses were brought to the Americas. However, in the New World, the Nez Perce tribe particularly valued horses with these patterns, and modern Appaloosas are believed to descend from the herds of this tribe.

The physical conformation of the Appaloosa is secondary to the coloration, but the build of the horse is generally similar to that seen in the American Quarter Horse, partly because the American Quarter Horse was used to "improve" the conformation of the Appaloosa when the breed was being established.

The early Appaloosas were short, stout & fast. The Nez Perce did almost everything from horseback, so the animal had to be short-coupled & close to the ground. The Quarter horses added height & the beautiful confirmation we see in the show horses of today.

The markings of an Appaloosa are distinct from the dapples seen in grays and some other horse colors. The base color of the horse can be white, black, chestnut or bay.

  • Patterns
    • Blanket
    • Leopard
    • Chestnut Varnish
    • Few Spot Leopard

The Blanket pattern includes a white blanket over the hips from the loin to the dock of the tail. The color of the spots on the blanket will generally be the same color as the base color. The blanket pattern is not present when the horse is born but develops with age.

The leopard pattern has uniform spots all over the base color, which is white. Like the blanket pattern, the spots are not apparent at birth, but develop with age.

The varnish markings show darker areas on the shoulder, legs, and point of the hips, with some spots. Again, this pattern develops with age.

The Appaloosa registries are fairly recent, and the breed was established from unregistered horses with certain color patterns. In addition to the spotting patterns above, certain other characteristics were used to determine whether a horse could be registered:

  • Mottling skin, which is apparent around the lips, eye lids, and genitalia
  • White sclera (a white ring around the eyes)
  • Striped hooves

At the present time, a horse without the colour pattern on his coat may be registered with the Appaloosa Horse Club[?]. The registry is based upon the pedigree of the horse reflecting a recognized Appaloosa bloodline. The horse must be the offspring of two registered Appaloosa parents. S/he is then blood typed & there must be a DNA link established to both parents. The owner of the horse then must pay to have the horse inspected & must transport the horse to the inspector. The registration papers then indicate that the horse is not coloured, but is registered. The registration can be upgraded at any time if the horse begins to show a colour pattern.

There is much debate going on about this rule, as the Appaloosa is a colour breed, & the front page of the APHC[?] rule book states: "Appaloosa-a breed with a colour preference."

The principle behind this rule is that since colour is actually a recessive gene[?], the non-patterned horses have good bloodlines & should be able to be registered & shown, too. Sometimes colour will skip a generation, so that a solid mare will give birth to a brightly spotted foal.

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