What Is A Palomino Horse? (An Ultimate Guide)

The Palomino Horse is more of a type of horse than an actual breed. It is usually golden in color and it has a white mane and tail that often have an ivory hue.

Many experts argue that it is this characteristic color that makes a Palomino Horse rather than it being a true breed.

Palomino Horse

These golden horses have been around for a very long time and despite the lack of consensus on whether they are an actual horse breed or not, they have always been extremely popular and well-loved all over the world. 

Where Did They Originate From?

There is no clear agreement of the origins of these golden horses and experts will probably never agree on one definitive answer.

They have been featured in the myths and legends of many different countries and they can even be found in ancient paintings across Asia and Europe. 

These beautiful horses have also witnessed and played parts in important eras of history such as the Crusades. It was then that Queen Isabella of Spain, who was known to be very fond of these golden horses, shipped five mares and a Palomino stallion to her viceroy in Mexico, which was known as New Spain at the time.

From there, the horses quickly spread to the United States in states such as Texas and California, where they can be found aplenty today.  

“Palomino” is actually a common Spanish surname. As previously mentioned, many experts and horse owners believe that Palomino is a color, not a breed and that is because it is also a coloration term that is often used to describe a wide variety of different horse breeds. 

What Breeds Make Up A Palomino Horse?

The Golden Dorado, which was the Palomino of Spanish times was the closest to becoming a true breed.

It was the result of breeding between Arabic, Moorish and Spanish breeds, making it very similar to the Moorish Barb and Arabian horse breeds.

This was recorded in an old book from 1774 in Barcelona. 

So, what this implies is that a true Palomino could be descended from the original stock of Moorish Barbs and Arabian horses from Spain instead of being just a color. 

What Size Are They? 

The size of a Palomino horse varies greatly depending on the actual breed the horse is. Usually, they are about 14.1 to 17 hands, which is roughly equal to 56.4 to 68 inches. This means that they are usually very tall, huge horses.

The average weight is 1,250 lb and they can grow to be very huge and heavy when taken care of and fed properly.

What Do They Look Like? 

Usually, the coat color of the horse is what makes it a Palomino horse. They have golden coats and a white mane and tail. This color is the most distinctive characteristic that they have.

It is important to remember that the description and physique of the Palomino horse will vary depending on the actual breed of the horse. Usually, they look very strong, lean, and muscular.

What Colors Are They? 

Even though Palomino horses usually have golden coats, there are variations that are accepted. For instance, variations that are up to three shades darker or lighter may also be accepted and horse with such colors registers as Palomino in many cases. They may range from a creamy white color to a dark shade of brown. For this reason, they often look like chestnut horses.

The white mane and tail, which create a sharp contrasting look, are also important characteristics. Many Palomino horses often have a white mark on the face that may be in the form of a snip, star, or a blaze.

In case the horse has white hair on its legs, it should not go beyond the hocks and the knees. Moreover, the rest of the body should not have white markings of any kind, especially on the coat. The coat color, apart from being a shade of gold, should also be glossy or shiny. 

The magnificent color of these horses is the result of the cream dilution gene, also known as cream dilute. This is the reason behind the chestnut base coat and the cream dilute color of the coat. 

What Are They Used For?

This Horse has many uses. They are extremely versatile horses with incredible endurance and maneuverability. Many Palomino horse breeders breed them for riding, racing, trail rides, jumping, ranching, etc.

In earlier years, the Native Americans commonly used this horse breed for hunting, transportation, as well as warfare. Up until recently, owning a Palomino was a reflection of your wealth and high status in society. People used to own these horses to show off their wealth and impress people. 

Moreover, their beautiful coat and white color of their mane and tail, and their strong and lean physique make them perfect for shows, parades, fiestas, and all kinds of tourist attractions


Palomino horses are a result of breeding between Arabic, Moorish and Spanish breeds. Many horse breeders of America agree that it is the visible coat color that makes a horse a Palomino, as opposed to any underlying hereditary factor or the presence of the dilution gene. 


They are usually sociable, friendly, and approachable, making them relatively easy to train. Their calm temperament, combined with their incredible versatility makes them ideal for horse owners and riders of all levels. Even if you are a beginner with very little riding experience and limited interaction with horses, you likely wouldn’t have a problem with them.

However, it is important to note that Palominos can come in different horse breeds, which implies that the temperament of an individual horse would also depend on its true breed.

For example, if you have a Thoroughbred horse that was golden in color and has white mane and tail, it would be considered a Palomino, but since Thoroughbreds are usually hot-blooded, you would have a Palomino that is anxious, energetic, and high-spirited

However, if you owned a quarter horse that was a Palomino, then you would have a horse that is calm, friendly, and easy to train since these are the basic characteristics of quarter horses.


The diet of a Palomino horse includes hays, grasses, grain, salt, as well as plenty of fresh water. Depending on their diet, these horses can develop dark patches and variations in their coats, which is known as smutting. 

This means that the lifestyle habits and diet of the horse can change the shade of its coat color. For example, if you feed your horse grains with high protein content, it could result in the formation of shadows on their coats, making them appear darker. High iron intake could lead to the formation of a red shade on the white mane and tail of the horse.

So, if you want to prevent smutting in your horse, it is important to be very careful about the food you feed it. Smutting often develops as a result of excess intake of oils and proteins, vitamin A and trace minerals like iron, copper, and selenium. So, avoid feeding your horse protein meals, rice bran, sunflower seeds, lucerne and clover chaff, as well as molasses. 

In order to lower the risk of smutting, you can feed your Palomino a cereal-based diet that is made up of grains, pollard, or mill-run cereal hay, cereal chaff, or even grass hay. 

It should be noted that not every Palomino carries the gene for smutting. Several sensitive horses may be at a higher risk. 

Are Palominos Good Horses? 

They are great horses that are friendly, sociable, and usually have a calm temperament. Whether you are using them for pleasure riding or training them for racing, you can be assured that you will not have such a hard time bonding with them.

They are very approachable and you can easily gain their trust, making them ideal for all kinds of horse owners and riders, even if you may not have years of experience. Besides, their majestic golden coat and white mane and tail, combined with their strong and lean physique add to their appeal. 

How Much Are They?

This breed is a highly valuable animal that is worth tens of thousands of dollars. Usually, they range from about $5,000 to $30,000. Of course, plenty of other factors are at play too including the true breed of the horse, the health, strength, and fitness of the horse, its skill sets, etc. 

How Rare Are They?

This horse breed is not very rare, but they are not extremely common either. Just because they are considered more of a color doesn’t mean that every horse that has a golden or brownish shade of coat can be considered a Palomino horse. 


Palomino horses are not exactly a true breed (although they have been considered as one by many). Most Palominos are determined by their golden coats and white mane and tail. They are very versatile and can be used for ranching, riding, as well as for shows, and parades.

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