Appaloosa Horse Facts And Information – Breed Profile

The Appaloosa horse is one of the spotted horses believed to have originated in North America. The name of this horse is derived from the Palouse River, where the Nez Perce people lived.

These native Americans are credited with breeding this horse which is also known as the Palouse horse.

Appaloosa Horse

This spotted horse breed is popular thanks to its gentle and friendly nature. This makes it a great horse for even beginners. This colorful horse is used mainly as a riding or mount horse.


Spotted horses have been around for centuries. The ancestors of these horses were the ones used by nomads of Central Asia more than 30 centuries ago. The spotted horses from Austria and Hungary were brought to the Americas by the Spanish at the beginning of the 16th century. 

The Nez Perce Native Americans were one of the tribes that bred horses. The Appaloosa breed was bred by these tribes. When the US government took over the native American areas, it was believed that this breed was lost.

The horses that survived were used to breed the modern Appaloosas in the 1930s. It is the state horse of Idaho. Residents of the state can have a license plate featuring this spotted horse.

In 1938 the Appaloosa horse club was formed. This club established the Appaloosa breed registry. Since then, it has become one of the biggest horse registries worldwide.


The distinctive characteristic of this breed is its spotted coat that resembles a leopard. The spots are apparent over the base color of the horse. There are three significant color patterns in this breed of horse.

Mottled skin, striped hooves, and eyes with white sclera are the three distinctive characteristics of the Appaloosa. The original horse was similar to the Andalusian horse. Since then, Arabian and American quarter horse bloodlines have been added giving rise to the characteristics of the modern Appaloosa.


This horse needs a standard diet that is fed to most horses. Good quality hay, fresh grass, fruits, vegetables, and grains are fed to this horse. The horses would get their nutrients when they graze in the pasture.

If this is not possible, then minerals and vitamins need to be given as supplements. The quantity of food the horse needs depends on its size and level of activity. Fresh and clean water is needed. The horse loves sugary food like apples and molasses but it should be given in moderation to prevent teeth rot.

Breeding And Uses

This horse was bred by the Nez Perce tribe for use in hunting, riding, and even for use in battle. This is a breed used for many purposes. The stock horse is used for trail riding, racing, rodeo, and other riding sports.

The horses are extensively used in television and film shows. The unique markings on the coat make these horses stand out. “El Dorado”, “True Grit” and “The Appaloosa” are movies that featured this horse.


The Appaloosa horse weighs between 1000 and 1200 pounds on average. The height of this horse ranges from 14 hands (56 inches) to 15 hands (60 inches).

What Breeds Make Up The Appaloosa Horse?

This horse originated from the spotted horses of Europe that were brought to America. The Nez Perce tribe bred these horses to create the Appaloosa horse. Subsequently, other breeds with which this horse was crossed include the Arabian horse and the American quarter horse.


The color of the Appaloosa has a base color on which there is the famous Appaloosa pattern of spots. Some of the base colors that the Appaloosa horse club recognizes are chestnut, bay, black, dun, grey, gruella, cremello, palomino, and buckskin.

An interesting fact is that the color of the foal cannot be predicted. Once the baby’s hair is shed, then the spots appear. There are also solid-colored horses that have a base color but none of the Appaloosa coat patterns. The mottled skin and any other characteristic are used to register the horse.

Appaloosa spotting patterns include leopard (white with dark spots), blanket (all white or with small spots), snowflake (dark with white spots), and marble (white and dark).

Appaloosa Horse

What Do They Look Like?

The spotted coat color is the main distinguishing characteristic of this horse. The vertically striped hooves are the other distinct feature of this horse. The sclera, which is the white part of the eye surrounding the iris, is clearly visible. This is a unique feature, unlike other horse breeds.

Mottled skin around the eyes, muzzle, genitalia, and anal regions is another key feature of this horse. There are different body types in this horse. This is because there are more than one horse breeds that influenced the development of this breed.

This horse has a broad head, a straight back, with sloping shoulders. It has a long neck and a deep chest. The withers are not prominent but it has strong legs that help it do well in riding. The mane and tail are usually sparse.

What Are They Used For?

They are used mainly for riding (both English and Western). They participate in eventing, show jumping, fox hunting, barrel racing, reining, roping, etc. They are used for both endurance riding and casual trail riding.

They are commonly used for middle-distance racing.

Where Do They Live?

The Appaloosa horse is an American breed and is found in the United States. The Appaloosa horse club that maintains the registry of horses has more than 500,000 horses in its registry. These horses are found in Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and other European countries.

How Long Do They Live?

The Appaloosa horses are one of the horses that live for a long time. These horses live for around 30 years. This is mainly due to their hardy build and good health. The horses have the ability to quickly adapt themselves. This has helped in ensuring the horses can live for a long time.

The horses do not face many health problems. Watery eyes and equine recurrent uveitis are common problems this breed faces. If not treated on time, it can lead to retinal damage. Night blindness is another common problem that these horses are genetically predisposed to.

How Fast Are They?

These horses are used for middle-distance horse racing. They have strong legs enabling them to run fast. The horse can run at an average speed of 30 to 41 miles per hour.

How Much Do They Cost?

Appaloosa horses can be purchased from different breeders. The price varies and depends on various factors. It can range anywhere from $1000 to $10000. The factors that determine the price include age, health condition, pedigree, and training undergone.

If you are planning to buy this breed, it is advisable to spend some time understanding the horse’s temperament. You need to look for any health problems. Knowing the history of the horse and its training is important.

Are These Horses Good For Beginners?

The Appaloosa horse breed is perfect for all types of horse lovers. Beginners to advanced riders, and children to adults – everyone can ride this horse. The main reason is the amiable nature of the horse.

This horse is friendly, it adapts itself quickly to its environment making it easy to manage. The horse is gentle in nature and unlikely to be unruly. It is considered a very intelligent horse making it easy to train.

These horses have a calm and pleasant temperament. This is what makes it suitable for beginners and even younger riders. It is a faithful horse, that is trustworthy. 

Conclusion / Summary

The Appaloosa horse gets its name from the Palouse river where the Nez Perce tribe lived. This native tribe is responsible for breeding this American horse that has its origins in Europe. The horse is one of the more popular ones with more than 500,000 registered horses.

If you are a beginner, then this is one of the best horses that you can ride. The horse has strong legs making it good for casual and event riding. It has an extremely calm and pleasant temperament. It is also intelligent, making it easy to train. All these characteristics make this horse a good one for use by beginners.

The most distinctive feature of these horses is the leopard-spotted coats that they have. The spotted coat makes the horse easily distinguishable along with other features like striped hooves and a visible sclera. The mottled skin texture is another key characteristic.

The Appaloosa is used for trail riding. It is used in English and Western riding. The horse has also been featured in movies and TV shows.

The good health of this horse makes it a low-maintenance horse, which is again perfect for beginners. This is one of the long-living horses with a life span of around 30 years. The horse rarely has serious health issues. It has no special food requirements and requires the usual horse diet.

There’s a whole world of horse breeds out there to explore! Discover and find out more information by checking out our horse breed guides.