August 06, 2008 | | Comments 0

Appaloosa Horses

Celebrating the Uniqueness of the Appaloosa

It is difficult to miss an Appaloosa horse when you see one. The distinct spotted coat of Appaloosas is an obvious clue to their breed of origin. There is however more to the breed than just its unique coat.

History of the Appaloosa Breed

There is some evidence based on prehistoric art of the early origins of this breed. It is possible that the ancestors of the modern Appaloosa were already around as early as the Paleolithic era. The movement of the breed has since been traced throughout the centuries in various places in Europe and Asia particularly in France and China. It did not however, achieve international prominence until it was bred in America.

It is possible that the horse reached North America through Spanish adventurers. This however is in no way absolutely confirmed. What is certain is that the unique spotted horses were bred by the Nez Perce tribe in America. These people were known as breeders not just of the Appaloosa but of other horse breeds as well. In fact, the Appaloosa breed was only a fraction of the many breeds they maintained. The horse came to be known first as Palouse after a similarly named river. The name eventually changed to Appaloosa.

The Nez Perce eventually went into battle and lost to American forces. This resulted in the transfer of the Nez Perce to another settlement. It was at this time that the specific breeding of the Appaloosa was temporarily put on hold. The horses that were bred were either taken or left behind when the Nez Perce were relocated. It was only in 1937 that a renewed interest in the horse breed grew to such an extent that a registry was initiated.

Unique Spots

There is no question that the Appaloosa is easily recognized because of its coat. Although their coats are often referred to as leopard spots, there are other Appaloosa coat patterns. A horse of this breed can have a light coat with dark spots, a dark coat with light spots, a coat that is mottled in some areas and a light coat with a few spots. It is commonly believed that the leopard gene is what creates the spots in Appaloosas. There is a need however for further research to establish a clear understanding of this gene and the spotting effect on Appaloosas.

Aside from their distinct coat pattern, they also have hooves with stripes. Depending on the use of an Appaloosa, it can be short or tall. Appaloosas however are primarily lean. These horses have a gentle and calm nature but because of their strong and hardy nature, Appaloosas can survive in a variety of situations and circumstances.

Appaloosa Use

Appaloosa horses are quite versatile. They can participate in formal ridding, jumping and dressage events. These horses however are more known for their participation in rougher events such as rodeos, racing, trail rides and reigning. It is probably because of their association with American western-type activities that they have become popular choices for inclusion in western movies.

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