The word “Appaloosa” comes from the phrase “A Palouse Horse” referring to the origin of the breed in the Palouse. The Appaloosa arose among the Nez-Perce Indians of the Pacific Northwest. The Nez-Perce were skilled horse breeders, and by selecting the best animals from among the wild herds, they produced equines especially suited to war and hunting. The horses were practical, hardy, and versatile with the additional advantages of tractability, good sense, and almost endless stamina.
The four identifiable characteristics are: coat pattern, mottled skin, white sclera, and striped hooves. In order to receive regular registration, a horse must have a recognizable coat pattern or mottled skin and one other characteristic.
A remarkable aspect of the Appaloosa is the myriad of color and pattern combinations it can exhibit. Appaloosa patterns are highly variable and there are many which may not fit into specific categories easily.
Horses exhibiting the Appaloosa roan pattern develop a lighter colored area on the forehead, jowls and frontal bones of the face, over the back, loin and hips. Darker areas may appear along the frontal bones of the face as well and also on the legs, stifle, above the eye, point of the hip and behind the elbow.
Without an apparent Appaloosa blanket or spots, a horse with only the above-listed characteristics will also need mottled skin and one other characteristic to qualify for regular registration. The gallop averages 40 to 48 kilometers per hour (25 to 30 mph).
As a domesticated animal, these horses eat hay, dried grasses, and grain. They also like foods that have high sugar content like apples and molasses
Over 700,000 Appaloosas have been registered since the APHC’s founding in 1938.
True to their reputation as an extremely versatile breed, Appaloosas can be found in nearly every discipline: setting speed records on the racetrack, working cattle, performing dressage, jumping, performing western pleasure, endurance riding or serving as reliable family horses. Appaloosas are also used in 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. The Appaloosa can be a fairly good jumping horse. Their bone joints seem to take a bit more abuse than many of the other breeds, especially their back hocks. They are strong and clever, with willing minds and generally lots of get up and go.