Color Patterns of the American Paint Horse

Palomino Paint Horse

Paint horses didn’t get their name because their owners thought of painting their horses. The name “Paint Horse” is given to this breed as horses in this breed have a patch of white hair growing on unpigmented skin. Since these horses have another contrasting darker color in addition to white hair patch, their body looks as if it’s painted by a creative artist.

The American Paint Horse Association has strict color pattern requirements for registration. Here are the coat color classes as defined by the association.

Black – Black Family

This paint horse is predominantly black. It has black flanks and black legs. Its muzzle is also black. The black color may become fade because of exposure to sun and it could even look rusty during certain months of the year.

Chestnut – Red Family

Chestnut is from Red family so its body color can be anything from dark red to brownish-red. Some shades of chestnut are so difficult to identify that you can only tell the difference by judging the hue in light.

Brown – Black Family

Paint horses with brown color coat have brown or black body. Their muzzle is usually lighter in tone along with flanks and eyes. Their mane and tail are mostly black but this is not a compulsion for this family of horses.

Cremello – Red Family

These horses have cream or off-white mane. Usually the tail is also the same color. Horses with this color coat usually have pale or pink skin. The white coat is visible but there is a yellow hue. These horses usually have blue eyes but some of them can have amber eyes.

Bay – Black Family

This coat color is from the black family of paint horses. Horses falling within this color pattern usually have a reddish brown body with many variations. These horses have black mane and tail.

Palomino – Red Family

Paint horses with palomino coat color belong to the red family. They usually have diluted body color. The base color could be pale yellow or gold. These horses usually have a pale or off-white tail and mane. However, some horses from this family can have the same color on tale as on their coat.

Bay Roan – Black Family

Horses with Bay Roan coat color have their white hair mixed with bay color. This mixing is visible on their body, head, mane, tail and sometimes on lower legs as well. Sometimes their tale is darker in tone.

Red Dun – Red Family

Paint horses with red dun coat usually have yellowish body color. Their mane and tail are often red. These horses can also have red marking on other parts of their body.

Blue Roan – Black Family

Blue Roans are beautiful paint horses. The white hair on their body mixes with black body color to produce this amazing shade. Their head and lower legs are usually of solid dark color and there is no color bleeding. Their mane and tail are also darker in color.

Other coat colors recognized by the American Paint Horse Association

Here are few more coat color patterns recognized by the American Paint Association.

  • Red Roan – Red Family
  • Buckskin – Black Family
  • Sorrel – Red Family
  • Dun – Black Family
  • Gray – Black Family
  • Grullo – Black Family
  • Perlino – Black Family



Essential Horse Riding Gear

Horse riding gear is like potato chips – you always get bored with it and you want a new flavor next time. That’s exactly the case with horse riding gear. You can find the perfect gear and then find yourself looking for new gear the next month. However, that shouldn’t mean that you don’t have to show interest when choosing your horse riding gear for the first time. In fact, it is one of the greatest joys of life to shop for new horse riding gear for horse owners.

Make sure you take care of your riding gear!  We’ve kept riding gear in a damp barn before, and this can cause it to get moldy.  Riding gear is expensive.  We had a professional mold restoration company in Freehold, NJ clean our gear for us and it was worth every penny.  Make sure to keep your gear in a clean, dry place.  Leather will get moldy especially quickly.  It goes without saying, hopefully, but mold is also a serious health hazard for you and your horse.

The essential horse riding gear that you will need before you can ride a horse includes helmets, shirts, pants and breeches, chaps, boots, gloves, socks under garments for the rider. For your horse, you will need to buy halters, leads, saddles, bits and bridles.

Only knowing the important horse riding gear won’t help you make the right decision when it comes to buying it. You will need to know more details and understand what works best for new riders and what’s preferred by experienced riders.

What do you need?



When you ride a horse, you need a helmet for safety. You should always buy a certified and approved helmet so that don’t risk your safety when riding your favorite horse.

If you are buying horse riding gear, you should spend on a helmet first. You can compromise on quality when it comes to other essential gear but not on helmet since its going to keep you safe.

Having a helmet makes you safe since you never know when you can be involved in an accident. You shouldn’t think about your skill level and buy a helmet even if you’re an amateur and only want to ride your horse for pleasure riding.

When you go to horse riding lessons at a junior level or start trail rides, you will be asked to wear an approved helmet. You can ask your local horse riding club or association about list of approved gear.

Shirts, pants and breeches

Depending on where you live, you will make a different choice for your shirt, pant and breeches. Western riders usually put up a Wrangler whereas English riders have a culture supporting breeches.

For both categories of riders, the range of pants is unlimited. If you don’t care much about the culture of horse riders in your area, you won’t run out of choice neither in terms of color nor in terms of style.


Horse riders love to show their style with customized chaps. You can easily find leather chaps and homemade English schooling type half-chaps at every horse riding gear shop. These are great addition to your gear and you can easily use it to customizes your look as a rider.

Horse riding gear for your horse

You don’t just have to buy gear for yourself but you also need a few things for your horse in order to ride it safely. First you will need to buy halters and leads. Once you have them, you can buy bridles and bits to match them. The choice is unlimited when it comes to horse gear. Just be sure to buy quality products so that you can use them for years to come.


Genetic Issues of Paint Horses

Horses are prone to genetic issues. Some can have tie ups while others have eye problems and immune-deficient foals. Paint horses can have Lethal White Overo Syndrome. These horses may also show other genetic disorders such as HYPP and HERDA.

American paint horses were developed from Quarter and Thoroughbred horses. Due to their color pattern, they were not included in Quarter breed and therefore some fans started making their own associations. These associations later combined under the American Paint Horse Association. Due to the bloodline, American paint horses can have genetic issues which were common to its parents, especially the Quarter breed.

Lethal White Overo Syndrome – The Most Common Genetic Issue in American Paint Horse Breed

Lethal White Overso Syndrome is common among paint horses. This genetic problem is caused by color pattern. The syndrome can become active when a frame overo is bred with another similar horse.

The reason this genetic issue is common among horses with both parents from frame overso category is that the baby usually suffers from an underdeveloped digestive system, resulting in death. Usually, the horse that suffers from this genetic issue is born white and has brown or blue eyes. This horse differs from albino horses since albinos have pink eyes.

These horses born with the Lethal White Overo Syndrome usually have a lifespan of 72 hours. However, most Lethal White horses don’t live that long.

How to avoid breeding a Lethal White foal?

To avoid breeding a horse Lethal White foal, you can get your horse a test to see if it carries the Lethal White gene. Various paint horse clubs, associations and organizations provide such testing facilities. A little care can help you breed a horse free from genetic defects.

HYPP- Impressive Syndrome

HYPP or Impressive Syndrome is a genetic disorder that American paint horse inherits from Quarter breed. In this disorder, the muscle cells suffer from an extreme deficiency of sodium channels and therefore the blood in potassium isn’t regulated.

This disease came from a Quarter horse named Impressive. The horse has a huge family with over 50,000 living descendants.

A horse with this disorder will have a 50% chance of survival.

This genetic disorder isn’t unique to paint horses as it’s found in other breeds as well. It’s actually common in western stock horses due to heavy muscling –something prevalent in European halter shows competitions.

HERDA – Hereditary Enquine Regional Dermal Asthenia

HERDA is another genetic disorder common in paint horses. This disorder came from a Quarter horse believed to be named Poco Bueno. The disorder, identified in 1971, causes the skin to leave the underlying tissue. It’s result of a collagen defect.

This genetic issue in paint horses is fatal and chances of healing are extremely rare. Even if a horse heals from this syndrome, its skin will have clear scars. In some severe cases, the skin starts peeling off the body after getting detached.

If a horse suffers from this genetic syndrome and survives, it can actually live for years if proper care is given. The horse won’t be useful for riding anymore but one can keep it as a pet.

Want a little more help?  There are commercial solutions available to help diagnose genetic issues with paint horses:


A Paint Horse Primer

Paint horse rider

Paint horses are remarkably patterned light horses. This breed is popular in America and Europe due to its strikingly beautiful white and dark colored pattern. There are numerous associations, horse clubs and organizations for paint horse owners. These clubs and associations conduct various competitions and shows that keep the world aware of paint horses.

Although paint horses are usually used for horseback riding, they are good for a lot of things. You can take them to competitions and use them for trail riding. In competitions, they deliver good performance with good overall record of performance in rodeo, general riding and jumping events. People also love taking paint horses to dressage events.

Different categories of paint horses

Paint horses can have different types of markings and colors. These distinguish paint horses from one another. They can also be grouped into different categories based on their country of origin or stock type. Majority of paint horses are firm and have slender legs. They usually weight over 1500 pounds.

These horses usually have three different color patterns.

  1. Tovero: These paint horses have dark spots on their forehead and behind their ears. Usually, Tovero paint horses have one blue colored eye. Their chest and tail has various spots.
  2. Tobiano: These horses are recognized by the color and special pattern on their tail. The oval areas over their chest and neck give them a remarkably different look from other categories of pintos.
  3. Overo: The third category of paint horses is Overo. These horses have dark legs. The white color is usually present on their forehead and elsewhere on the body in irregular markings. Unlike Tobiano, Overo has a single color tale.

Paint horse shows – Ratings by the American Paint Horse Association

The American Paint Horse Association declares top 20 shows each year. If you are a fan of this horse breed, you should read the list and pick the shows you want to attend. All the shows in the list are top shows so you can go to any one of these.

The ratings by the American Paint Horse Association are based on different factors. An elite panel of judges determines the winners and leaders for annual ratings. Here are the top 3 shows for the year 2015.

  1. The No.1 spot for 2015 goes to Western Regional Zone 2 Zone Show. This year the show took the number 1 spot for seventh consecutive year. The show took place in Utah last year. The Utah Paint Horse Club proudly sponsors this show every year.
  2. The No.2 spot for 2015 belongs to Zone 12 European Championship show. The show is held in Germany every year and it’s easily the largest show outside the U.S. A total of five judges preside over this international paint horse competition.
  3. Worldwide Paint Horse Congress grabbed the 3rd spot in 2015. This show has grown its repute over past few years. It attracted many new horse lovers this time and that’s the reason it sits at this position.

Other popular paint horse shows are Arizona Copper Country POR, Texas Memorial Day Spectacular Zone 4, and Texas Wildflower Celebration POR.

Registering a horse with American Paint Horse Association

There are various paint horse associations in the world that recognize the breed and register it. However, the largest of them all is American Paint Horse Association. This association registers only American Paint Horses that has a strict standard to register a horse in this breed.

For example, a horse has to have the typical coat pattern and meet bloodline requirements set by the association. In addition, horse’s sire and dam will need to register with the association or with a club that the association approves for registration. There are also requirements about parents’ registration as American Paint Horse.

Even when a horse meets the bloodline requirements, the association has the right to reject its registration. One of the reasons that the association can put forward is improper or unnatural paint marking on the horse. The requirements for coat color are given below.

  • The horse must have at least one solid white patch of hair.
  • This patch must meet minimal patch size requirements as decided by the association.
  • The association also requires American paint horses to have an unpigmented skin pattern at the time of birth.
  • In case the horse has white as predominant color, there should be at least one dark colored patch present on the horse’s skin.

World’s most famous paint horses

Paint horses are achievers. Although many use this breed for leisure riding, it’s perfect for competition as well. This is the reason various paint horses have made a name for themselves by competition in world’s top horse competitions for glory.

One of the famous paint horses was Painted Joe. This graceful runner was a king of the track. It gained top rating as a race horse during its days and went on to claim registration no. 5 in APSHA. Paint horse fans could never forget this beauty sprinting next to Grey Badger during those years. It was definitely one of the best scenes of its time.

Another famous paint horse was Wahoo King. It started racing when young and attracted a lot of people to this breed. It became hugely famous when it performed well during competitions in those days.

Living with your Paint Horse

Paint horses are great horse partners. They are athletic and can take you on its back for long without showing signing of getting tired. A paint horse is easy to train and even amateurs can ride these beautiful horses.

These horses are hard-working and they love to compete. They have good speed and stamina, which makes them a great choice for barrel racing and jumping events.

Paint horses are easy to keep as long as you are ready to take basic care. The only common issues with these horses are their ability to overeat and become lazy if uncared.


The American Paint vs. the American Quarter Horse

Quarter Horse

American Paint Horses came from Quarter horses and therefore both the breeds are quite similar. Paint horses were often killed as foals in their early days since people back in those days didn’t like the patterned horses for some reason. They though horses should be only solid color. However, some enthusiasts got together and decided to save these horses. As a result, a new breed was registered.

American Paint Horses have the same stocky and sturdy build as Quarter horses and both can be used for various things from riding to jumping and showing. Both the breeds share similar limits when it comes to associating horses with breeds. Unless you start jumping into technical breed details, both horses are exactly the same except for their color patterns.

Cropped out Quarter Horses registered as Paint Horses

The difference between the two breeds is so strictly limited to color that a lot of Quarters are registered as American Paint Horses. Many solid and nearly solid horses are also added to the registry considering them ‘spotless paints’ although they are actually Quarters.

Until recently, these Quarter horses were not registered as Quarter because of having too much white and were cropped out. The American Paint Horse Association has controversially started registering them as Paint Horses, leaving the paint pattern to be the only difference between the two breeds as of now.

With this recent change in breed registry, it seems that the difference between the Quarter and the Paint has slowly vanished, leaving coat pattern to be the only difference other than the bloodline.

Difference in uses

Both the breeds can be put to any common use such as dressage, general riding, jumping, racing, and rodeo.

Both can be put to work without any issues. However, the Quarters have excellent skills for mounted athletics. American paint isn’t used for that use. Similarly, Quarter can be a good horse for hunting. American Paint is usually not used for hunting.

Other small differences

Although not of clearly noticeable, these breeds have some minor differences apart from their coat color. Here are those minor differences.

Height: American Paint is usually a touch shorter than Quarter breed. They measure 16 hands while Quarters usually measure 17 inches.

Weight: American Quarter and American paint weigh almost the same. Sometimes American Paint horses can weigh more than Quarters at the same age. However, most horse owners don’t recognize this difference.

Life expectancy: Both the horse breeds have similar life expectancy but sometimes the American Paint horses have a higher life expectancy, especially when bred with care.

Colors: Color is the major difference between these two breeds. An American Quarter can be a Quarter and a Paint at the same time. However, a Paint can’t be a Quarter. Considering the dark color in Paints and the solid color of Quarter, both breeds share colors. Both have bay, black, brown, buckskin, chestnut, cremello, dun, gray, grullo, palomino, and perlino coat colors. The Paints will have a clear white patch in addition to the dark color.



The Differences Between a Pinto and a Paint Horse


Paint horse and pinto horse could be used interchangeably when talking about color. A pinto is a categorization of horse color. On the other hand, Paint Horse is a breed. So if someone is talking about a pinto horse, it means the color of the horse and if someone is talking about paint horse, it is a reference to a horse breed.

American Paint Horse

Paint Horse

An American Paint Horse is a specific breed of horses with stock and sturdy body type. These horses are cousins of famous American Quarter horses. A Paint Horse can only be registered in the breed if the horse has specific bloodline and meets color pattern requirements set by the American Paint Horse Association.

American Paint Horse can have different coat colors, not restricted to black only. Here are different coat colors that the American Paint Horse Association has recognized.

  • Black
  • Chestnut
  • Brown
  • Cremello
  • Bay
  • Palomino
  • Bay roan
  • Red Dun
  • Blue Roan
  • Red Roan
  • Buckskin
  • Sorrel
  • Dun
  • Gray
  • Grullo
  • Perlino

The American Paint Horse Association has defined each of these coat colors. Horses should meet these requirements to be registered in this breed within one of the coat color categories.

Pinto Horse

Pinto Horse

A pinto horse can be from any breed or category. This means that every pinto horse isn’t necessarily a paint horse. For example, a Saddlebred could be a pinto but never a Paint Horse.

Pinto horses don’t have specific shape or size since they are not a breed. Recently, a registry for these horses has opened that registers horses based on color only. There are no bloodline or breeding requirements for pinto category.

The following color patterns may be registered as ‘pinto’.

  1. Tobiano

Tobiano is probably the most common color pattern in pinto horses. Horses categorized as Tobiano usually have white legs. Even if they have color on legs, it should be white below knees to qualify for this category. Tale of Tobiano horses is often of mixed color. The color pattern is dominant and therefore covers flanks. The body color of these horses can be white or dark.

  1. Overo

Overo is another popular category of pinto horses. These horses will have white but it will not mix with the other color or cross it out in tail and withers. These horses have all dark legs. The white color is spread all over the body, usually in jagged or irregular pattern. These horses usually have bald faces but can be bonnet or apron faced as well. There are further categorizations of Overo based on color pattern.

  • Sabino Overo
  • Frame Overo
  • Splash White Overo
  1. Tovero

Tovero usually results from breeding an Overo with a Tobiano horse. The result is usually a color mix and it’s categorized as Tovero. Sometimes a horse can look like a Tovero due to similarities in color pattern even when it is genetically not a tovero. This is the reason that categorizing Tovero is extremely difficult and requires a pinto expert.


The History of the American Paint Horse

The American Paint Horse is one of the most valuable horse breeds these days. It has a unique pinto spotting pattern and remarkable history that makes it such a favorite among horse lovers. The American Paint Horse is also far more intelligent and gentle compared to other breeds in addition to being astonishingly graceful.

Things you will instantly notice about the American Paint Horse is its color pattern and sturdy muscle build. The horse is capable of performing various tasks due to its competitive nature. People have taken this breed to competitions and farms but they have been mostly used for pleasure riding due to their remarkable color pattern and sturdy body.

The history of the American Paint Horse

The American paint horse wasn’t always America’s most sought-after horse breed. In fact, people were reluctant to buy these horses early on. They were disregarded by the modern world. The reason was their bold markings – something that became the most important reason for the popularity of this breed later on.

With the current popularity of this horse breed, the American Paint Horse Association is now enjoying massive growth. In fact, it is now among top three horse associations in the United States.

Chances are good that you’ve already seen an American paint horse even if you’re not a horse lover. This horse breed is so popular that it has been included in numerous Wild Wild West movies.

Where did these horses come from?

The American Paint Horses came originally with the Spanish conquerors that came to America to loot resources and occupy land in the New World. They brought these horses with them. Some historical records state that these conquerors brought 17 horses with them. These were the original paint horses.

It was during the 15th century that these horses came to America. It took them nearly two centuries to become popular. By the mid of 17th century, American Paint Horses were among the popular horse breeds in Europe.

Unfortunately, these horses didn’t remain popular in Europe for long. The merchants were fed up with low demand. As a result, they sent a lot of these horses back to America during the next century to be sold. Majority of these horses were released into the wild since no one seemed interested in this breed back in those days.

How these horses came to Native Americans?

When Europeans sent these horses back to America, most of them were released. They were later captured by Native Americans who decided to domesticate them. These horses then joined the herds of Western Americans.

These horses were perfect for American Indians. They were able to improve their life using these horses as they were versatile due to their sturdy build. They were soon the most popular horses in America and were called Pinto [Spanish for ‘pointed’].

Are the American Paint Horses the first breed with unusual colors?

Many people think that they are probably the first breed with such unusual colors and probably that’s the reason these horses are so popular today. However, that’s not the case. Historical evidence indicates that even Ancient Egyptians used painted horses.




10 Popular Paint Horse Events and Shows

Paint horses are a popular horse breed in the world, especially in the United States. The American Paint Horse Association (APHA) recognizes various clubs and organizations that hold shows and competitions throughout the year. Paint horses compete for fame and big cash prizes in these shows and events.

Paint horse events and shows help fans of this breed watch the best horses compete for the glory. If you are a fan of this breed, you might want to attend some of the shows that APHA listed in its Top Twenty list for 2015. Here is a list of these shows with location and date information. If you’d like to take your paint horse to the event or show, be sure to register with APHA using the new one-page application form.

Western Regional Zone 2 ZOR:

This show is held at South Jordan, UT on May 21 and 22 every year. The show is sponsored by Zone 2 Coordinating Committee. There were total 1110 entries last year and the show ranked No.1 in APHA rankings for the year.

There are six ZOR judges and four POR after. There is also an adjoining show sponsored by Utah Paint Horse Club.

Zone 12 European Championships

This show is sponsored by Zone 12 Coordinating Committee. It’s held during the last week of August each year in Kreuth, Germany. The show was ranked No. 2 in the world last year. It took 922 entries and there were a total of 200 paint horses on display at the show. The show has 5 ZOR total judges.

Worldwide Paint Horse Congress

This show was at N0.3 spot last year. It is held on Tulsa, OK each year during the last week of July. The show is proudly sponsored by Kansas PHA. Last year there were 267 paint horses on display in this show. There is also an adjoining show named Worldwide Paint Horse Congress.

Texas Memorial Day Spectacular Zone 4

This show is sponsored by Zone 4 Coordinating Committee. It’s held at Waco, TX on May 23 and 24 annually. Last year there were 223 paint horses at the show and 846 registered entries. The show was fifth in 2014 in APHA rankings but managed to climb to No. 4 spot in 2015. TX Memorial Day Ranch Horse Special Event is also part of this paint horse show.

Texas Wildflower Celebration POR

Texas Wildflowers Celebration is held at Waco, TX on March 21 and 22. The show is sponsored by Gulf Coast PHC and Texas PHC. It attracted 185 paint horses and had 811 entries last year. The show was 3rd in APHA rankings in 2014 but lost a spot in 2015. Still, it’s a great show for paint horse fans.

Arizona Copper Country POR

The show is sponsored by Arizona PHC. Last year there were 176 horses that participated in this show. A total 790 entrees were registered. The show is held in Scottsdale, AZ on January 1 and 2 annually.

The Arizona Copper Country show was previously ranked as No.10 show in the world for Paint Horses but it lifted itself to No. 6 in 2015. The show also has adjoining Arizona Copper Country POR show held in December.

IPHA Beginning of Season POR

This event is sponsored by Illinois PHA. The show is held at Scottsdale, AZ on 18th and 19th of April each year. The show had 766 entries last year and a total of 167 paint horses participated in the event. The show was previously ranked No.13 in the world but it jumped to No. 7 in 2015.

Paint the Future POR

Paint the Future POR was ranked No. 8 in 2015. It is a great achievement considering the show wasn’t even ranked in 2014. The show doesn’t have an adjoining event. It’s held in Waco, TX on April 11 and 12 annually.

There were 735 entries and a total 188 paint horses at the show last year. The show is sponsored by Texas PHC

Color on the Coast #1

The show color on the Coast #1 is sponsored by Virginia PHC and Carolina PHC jointly. The show was ranked No.9 by APHA last year, which is the same ranking that the event had before last year’s show. There were 152 paint horses and 695 entries last year.

It’s held at Williamston, NC in mid-July annually. The show also has an adjoining event called Color on the Coast #2. It’s also sponsored by Virginia & Carolina PHC.

IPHA Fall Breeders Futurity and POR

The IPHA Fall Breeders is ranked No.10 by APHA. The show wasn’t ranked previously. There were 148 paint horses and 678 entries last year.

It’s sponsored by Illinois PHA. The location for this show is Gifford, IL. The show is held during October. Last year the show was held during the first week of October.

More Horse Shows and Events

Although we’ve covered all the major events recognized by the American Paint Horse Association, there are various other events of importance. If you are a fan of this horse breed, you might want to attend some of the shows and events listed below. All these events are recognized by APHA so it’s easy to participate. You can even take part in competition and showing if you own a paint horse that meets the APHA criteria for the event. The list of these shows is below.

  1. Delmarva PHC Summer Spectacular POR sponsored by Delmarva PHC
  2. Music City Classic sponsored by Tennessee PHC
  3. INPHC IPHA Fall Paint Partners POR sponsored by Indiana PHC and Illinois PHA
  4. Fall Color Classic sponsored by Michigan PHC
  5. Florida Holiday Classic sponsored by Florida PHC
  6. Arizona Copper Country POR sponsored by Arizona PHC
  7. Zone 1 ZOR sponsored by Zone 1 Coordinating Committee
  8. Fort Worth Stock Shows sponsored by Texas PHC
  9. Rocky Mountain Rendezvous POR sponsored by Rocky Mountain PHA
  10. German Paint Horse Championships sponsored by Paint Horse Club Germany