Breed profile: Information about the paint horse

Breed profile: Information about the paint horse

The paint horse is an extremely popular breed due to its unique markings and, much like a zebra’s stripes, no two are the same! The paint horse is a versatile breed standing at a medium to large height (14-16 hands high) with a life span of up to 31 years and lends itself well to both competitions and those who are looking for a companion who is easy to train. These horses are known for their social and friendly temperament and make ideal all-rounders due to their willingness to please.

The origins of the paint horse

The paint horse has its origins dating all the way back to 500 AD! It’s difficult to think of early Americana without picturing the paint horse. Brought over by Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes to the New World (North America) in the 1500s these horses began to cover the landscape and were soon picked up by the American Indians for riding. Records state that the Apaches and Comanche were among the first tribes to acquire these horses and as experts in the art of camouflage, it’s no surprise why these horses were favoured as due to their colouring, they were able to find a paint horse to blend with every season.

What is the paint horse used for?

Being such a versatile breed, the paint horse has been used for a variety of disciplines throughout the years. Due to their muscular build and easy trainability they are an extremely well-balanced horse. From barrel racing and working cattle in the United States to jumping and cross-country events and much more. Whichever sport you can think of involving horses, there is usually a paint horse to be found, individual horses can excel at a number of different tasks from dressage to trail riding, ranch and farm work to showing, lending themselves to be an exceptional horse for the first-time rider.

Markings and colour

The paint horse has an array of colours and markings that are unique to each horse, these can be a combination of colour; bay, black, chestnut, grey, palomino, with white spots showing up on the body. The colours and patterns vary a lot with some paint horses being a near solid colour.

  • Overo
    • These horses have egg-shaped markings on their bodies, these horses have bold white markings on their heads and often will have white markings placed sporadically over their bodies with their back, and often legs, remaining a darker colour. The tail is usually solid in colour and many of them will have blue eyes.
  • Tobiano
    • These paint horses have a solid coloured head, with the exemption of a star, blaze, etc. They tend to have white legs and the marking on their bodies will usually be in a strong contrast – some tobiano horses are mostly white, whilst others are such a solid colour, they may not appear spotted at all! They usually have bi-painted tails and dark eyes.
  • Tovero
    • These types of paint horse are a mixture of the colour markings of the overo and tobiano, the coat is often on the darker shade around the head and ears, the eyes are either blue or heterochromatic with just one eye being blue.

Paint horse or pinto?

Both types of horses are very similar, they both appear as though they have white patches with solid colourings; bay, black, chestnut, grey, but there is a difference and it’s not so easy to tell from sight alone. The major difference between the paint horse and pinto horse is their lineage; according to the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) say that a paint horse must have strict bloodline requirements and a distinctive stock-horse body type; registered Paint, Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred parents. Pinto refers to the coat pattern than the breed of the horse. So, a paint horse can be a pinto, but a pinto can only be a paint horse with the correct breeding!

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