The Appaloosa Breed

Appaloosa Breed Description

Height 14.2 to 15.2 hands high.
Eye The eyes are encircled with white sclera, just as in a human.
Skin The skin is mottled with irregular spotting of white and black, which is especially noticeable around the nostrils and the genitalia.
Hoofs The hoofs are striped vertically black and white.
Mane and Tail Both the mane and tail tend to be sparse.
Colours There are five coat patterns in the Appaloosa breed. The “leopard” pattern is a white coat with dark round or egg shaped spots of varying sizes. The “blanket” pattern has white over the hips with or without dark spots on the white. The “snowflake” coat has spotting all over the body but most dominant over the hips. The “frost” pattern has white specks on a dark background. The “marble” coat is red or blue roan with dark colouring on the edges of the body, and frost in the middle.

Appaloosa Breed History

Drawings of horses with Appaloosa markings dating back 20,000 years have been found in the caves of Cro-Magnon man throughout Europe. Spotted horses have also been depicted in Chinese art from 500 B.C., and Persian art of the fourteenth century. These horses, with a variety of names, have been prized throughout the centuries, in Europe and in Asia. Spotted horses are called Knabstrupers in Denmark, and when they were bred in the Royal Stud in Britain, they were called Blagdon. In France they were called Tigres.

Spotted horses appeared in America in the late sixteenth century, when Spanish stock carrying the spotting gene were brought by the conquistadores. They originally landed in Mexico, and eventually were taken north by the Plains Indians, particularly the Nez Perce tribe. The Nez Perce lived in northeast Oregon, and the Palouse river ran through their lands. The Appalooa was originally called “a Palouse horse” and over the years the name evolved to Apalousie, and finally to today’s name, Appaloosa.

The Nez Perce were knowledgeable horse breeders. From the mid-1700s, they enforced a strict breeding policy which resulted in a distinctive type of horse that showed great endurance and stamina, sure-footedness, and, of course, a spotted coat. The horses that did not meet the standards were either gelded or traded to other tribes.

The Appaloosa was almost completely wiped out by the end of the 19th century. By 1877 the American government was deeply involved in an attempt to drive the native population out of their traditional lands and onto reservations. The men of the Nez Perce resisted this action, and under their leader, Chief Joseph, they attempted to cross the border into Canada. This journey involved crossing some of the most mountainous terrain in the western United States. They travelled 1800 miles or so (2900 km), and were stopped by the US army in Montana, just short of their goal. The army, to punish the Nez Perce for their defiance, took away their valuables, and slaughtered the Appaloosa horses.

In 1938, in an attempt to save the Appaloosa from disappearing completely, the Appaloosa Horse Club was created with a few of the descendants of the Nez Perce horses that had escaped the slaughter. Appaloosas are now bred throughout the world, and are used in Western riding, racing, jumping, long distance events, and show classes. The Appaloosa is truly a versatile breed.

2 Responses to The Appaloosa Breed

  1. Trixie says:

    My first horse was an Appaloosa. They are fantastic horses, colorful and athletic.

  2. Jena Fiset says:

    My first horse was an Appaloosa. They are fantastic horses, colorful and athletic.

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