Meet the Paint Horse:
My mare Trillium is a Paint Horse, although you might not notice it. She’s a solid bay in the summer time, with only a bit of white hair interspersed with the dark. In the winter, this ‘roaning’ becomes more obvious. Summer or winter, she does sport a white patch on her belly, but you pretty much have to lie underneath her to see it. Her mother was a Paint Horse with American Quarter Horses a few generations back in her pedigree, but her father was a Thoroughbred. This combination has been common from the inception of the breed.
The Paint Horse breed is not just a color breed, but one with specific characteristics, beyond coat color. The body type is typical of cattle horses. The breed has been frequently cross bred with American Quarter Horses, so many are heavily muscled cow horse types. In fact, one of the early Paint Horse registries was called American Paint Stock Horse Association and endeavored to preserve the stock “cow horse” type. Because Paint Horses can be out-crossed with Thoroughbred, racier body types exist. The registry allows full Thoroughbreds and American Quarter Horses entrance into the registry, provided they meet the specifications for color.
The Paint is usually between 14.2 HH and 15.2 HH. The average weight is from 950 to 1200 lbs. My mare stands a bit above average at 15.3 HH.
Paint Horses are ridden and driven in almost every English and western discipline. You’ll find Paint Horses barrel racing, jumping in the stadium and cross-country, working cattle, trail riding, combined driving and much more. My own mare was bred for the hunter ring, we have used her for jumping, trail riding, hunter classes, dressage and she is trained to go western as well.
Color and Markings:
There are several distinct color patterns seen on Paint Horses. These are general descriptions. The APHA has detailed explanations of coat colors and combinations.
- Tobiano: Dark and white coat pattern, with solid dark over one or both flanks, white legs, head dark with regular facial patterns such as stars, blaze, strips. The markings are smooth and regular shaped. Horses may have tail or mane hair in two colors.
- Overo: solid color over the horse’s back, legs are dark with regular stockings. Face is mainly white. Tail and mane are usually solid colors.
- Sabino: The horse is mainly solid color, and white patches have irregular edges. Legs are white and face has extensive white markings. Patches are of varying sizes, from large areas of the body, to small flecks.
- Tovero: Mainly white body, upper head area is dark color, eyes may be blue, dark over chest and flanks.
- Solid Colors: As long as the horse carries the genes for a colored coat, they may be registered as a Paint Horse.
All coat patterns may be interspersed with white hairs or ‘roaning’. Any regular coat color may combine with white and sometimes two coat colors plus white are seen.
History and Origins:
The Paint Horse registry is the second largest breed registry in the world, after the American Quarter Horse registry, and followed by the Appaloosa registry. Although spotted horses have been popular a long time, the registry only began in 1965, although there were several groups already recording and promoting Paint Horses. Many Paint Horses trace their lineage back to the wild horses bred by Native Americans who prized colorful coat patterns and those living freely on the plains. The first stallion registered was a black and white tobiano named Bandits Pinto. From somewhat tumultuous beginnings, the registry has grown with members enjoying their Paint Horses around the world.
The colored coat pattern distinguishes this breed of horse. But the breed is not just about color as there is a distinctive body type as well. Some Paint Horses are also registered with the Pinto Horse registry, which allows any breed, regardless of ancestry, as long as the coat color meets their specifications.
Paint Horse Champions and Celebrities:
Paint Horse Legends has an extensive list of foundation Paint Horses, with links to descriptions and photos.