American Paint Horse

Breed Name: American Paint Horse

Origin: Spain

Physical Description:

While the colorful coat pattern is essential to the identity of the breed, American Paint Horses have strict bloodline requirements and a distinctive stock-horse body type. To be eligible for registry with the American Paint Horse Association (APHA), a Paint’s sire and dam must be registered with the APHA, the American Quarter Horse Association, or the Jockey Club (Thoroughbreds). At least one parent must be a registered American Paint Horse. To be eligible for the Regular Registry, the horse must also exhibit a minimum amount of white hair over unpigmented (pink) skin.

Each Paint Horse has a particular combination of white and any color of the equine spectrum: black, bay, brown, chestnut, dun, grullo, sorrel, palomino, buckskin, gray or roan. Markings can be any shape or size, and located virtually anywhere on the Paint’s body. Although Paints come in a variety of colors with different markings, there are only three specific coat patterns: overo, tobiano and tovero.


In 1519 the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes sailed to the New World to find his fame and fortune. Along with his entourage of conquistadors, he brought horses to help his men search the vast land for riches. According to the Spanish historian Diaz del Castillo, who traveled with the expedition, one of the horses was described as a “pinto” with “white stockings on his forefeet.” The other was described as a “dark roan horse” with “white patches.” These were the first known recorded descriptions of early Paint Horses in the New World.

By the early 1800s, the western plains were generously populated by free-ranging herds of horses, and those herds included the peculiar spotted horse. Because of their color and performance, flashy, spotted horses soon became a favorite mount of the American Indian. The Comanche Indians, considered by many authorities to be the finest horsemen on the Plains, favored loud-colored horses and had many among their immense herds. Evidence of this favoritism is exhibited by drawings of spotted horses found on the painted buffalo robes that served as records for the Comanches.

Throughout the 1800s and late into the 1900s, these spotted horses were called by a variety of names: pinto, paint, skewbald, piebald. In the late 1950s, a group dedicated to preserving the spotted horse was organized–the Pinto Horse Association. In 1962, another group of spotted horse enthusiasts organized an Association, but this group was dedicated to preserving both color and stock-type conformation–the American Paint Stock Horse Association (APSHA).

Primary uses:

Western sports and pleasure

Famous Horses:

Gunner: Became the first Paint to reach the million dollar sire mark in NRHA history. He was the 1996,7 World Champion Paint Horse Show Open reining champion. He is the highest earning Paint Horse in NRHA history and the 2002 USET Breyer model horse. 

Breed Association: American Paint Horse Association

(Information provided by the American Paint Horse Association)

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