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By Smith Northam

Last updated: 5th July 2023

American Paint Horse


Smith Northam
Last updated: 5th July 2023

The American Paint Horse is one of the most rapidly-growing North American horse breeds that are marked by their signature color patterns combining splotches of white with other common dark colors. These are horses with a pleasant personality. Unlike the leopard pattern of the Appaloosa, the design on the coat of this horse is splodged, though, rarely, they can be solid-colored as well. In order to be registered with the American Paint Horse Association, an American Paint must belong to the bloodline of the Thoroughbred, the American Quarter Horse, or the American Paint Horses.

American Paint Horse

Quick Information

Other Names/Nicknames Paint
Behavioral Characteristics Obedient temperament with a docile disposition; amiable, loyal, intelligent, easily trainable
Physical Descriptions Muscular, firm neck; muscular but short back; stout legs; sloping shoulders; mid-size ears; intelligent eyes
Colors Two types found – Spotted and Solid; the Spotted horses are a combination of white with bay, chestnut or sorrel, brown, black; Solid color horses are extremely rare
Common Uses General riding, work, sports, jumping, racing, rodeo
Lifespan/Expectancy 30-31 years
Weight 1150 pounds
Height (size) 16 hands
Health Problems Lethal white syndrome (LWS) or, Overo Lethal White Syndrome (OLWS) or, White Foal Syndrome (WFS) is common with foals that are born homozygous for this gene. Such horses are euthanized shortly after birth else they die within a few days with underdeveloped intestinal tract complications. Other genetic disorders might include  Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP), Hereditary Equine Regional Dermal Asthenia (HERDA), Equine polysaccharide storage myopathy (called PSSM, polysaccharide storage myopathy, in Paints, Quarter Horses and Appaloosas), Malignant hyperthermia (MH) and Glycogen Branching Enzyme Deficiency (GBED), Wobbler’s syndrome (those that have the influence of Thoroughbred down the bloodline)
Movements Even walk; energetic trots with long strides
Blood Type Warm-blooded
Ancestors Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred
Popular Traits Strong and hardy, multi-talented, easily maintainable
Feeding/Diet General horse diet consisting of hay, grass, grains, vegetables, etc.
Country of Origin USA
Year/Time of Development 1962
Breed Information Breed Standards
Pedigree Search

Video: American Paint Horse

History and Development

During the invasion of the Empire of Rome at around 500 A.D., a few of the barbaric tribes introduced spotted Oriental steeds to Spain which they brought from Eurasia. It was then that these spotted horse bred with the local stocks. This breed flourished in Spain, and started taking after what is generally called the standard Paint Horse markings.

The ancestry of the American Quarter Horse and the Thoroughbred are the same as these Paint Horses. Thus, the paint horse must also abide by the same body type that has been set for the ‘stock horses’ like the Quarter Horse. It describes: “a muscular animal that is heavy but not too tall, with a low center of gravity for maneuverability, and powerful hindquarters suitable for rapid acceleration and sprinting.”

700 A.D. records have demonstrated that the spotted horses had the standard tobiano and overo patterned coats. At that point, the Spanish Conquistadors brought their own horses with themselves when they visited the United States. These steeds are believed to be the precursors of the present day American Paint Horses.

In 1940, as the American Quarter Horse Association came into being, they started to preserve the horses that fall under the ‘stock’ type. However, they kept the pinto coats and the ‘crop out’ ones from consideration – the ones that were born with white marks above the hocks and knees, or with white spots on their bodies. The fans of colorful stock horses, not losing their enthusiasm, formed several organizations with the intention of promoting and preserving the Paint horses. Thus, in 1965, some of these bodies converged to establish the American Paint Horse Association.

Interesting Facts

  • The American Paint Horse is very similar to the Pinto horses in color. However, the main difference between them is related to their bloodlines.
  • The APHA, since foundation, has become the third largest registry, has grown from 3,800 registered horses to more than a quarter of a million in the present day. The association registers more than 25,000 foals every year.
  • The two main colors of these horses, viz. the ‘overo’ and the ‘tobiano’ are distinguished by the position of the white coloring on their coats.

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