Appaloosa Horse: Is It A Breed Or A Type Of Horse Color?

Last Updated on May 31, 2020 by Allison Price

What is an Appaloosa Horse?

First of all, Appaloosas are a breed of horse, not a color.

Appaloosa breed is said to have descended in the Nez Percé Indian territory of North America. It started from a breed of wild mustangs that descended from Spanish horses brought by explorers. 

The name “Appaloosa” derives from the Palouse River of Idaho and Washington.

Appaloosa is breeds of Horses that have spots and splashes of color. The abilities and beauty of this breed are more than skin deep. Besides its appearance, Appaloosas are known for being gentle, friendly, and loyal companions. These horses are very eager to please, which makes them a good choice for equestrians of all levels. 

Appaloosa has an athletic build resembling the quarter horse and hunter type thoroughbred. Appaloosa’s body types include: 
  1. Stock horses
  2. Sport horses
  3. Racehorses
  4. Trail horses

Fact: Male Appaloosa Horse is called a stallion. Female Appaloosa Horse is called a mare. Young male Appaloosa Horse is called a colt. Young female Appaloosa Horse is called a filly. Small horses are called Ponies.

Appaloosa Physique:
  • Average height: 14.2-15.2 hands. (about 57 to 64 inches, or 144 to 163 cm)
  • Weight: from 1,000 to 1,100 pounds (450 to 500 kg). 
  • The white sclera of the eye & mottled muzzle skin. The Appaloosa is the only horse that the white sclera is readily visible. Other horses show the white of their eyes when they roll their eyes back, up or down. Mottled skin is also a unique trait of the Appaloosa horse. It is a speckled or blotchy patch of pigmented and non-pigmented skin.
  • Life Expectancy: 30 years. Appaloosa Horses live the same as most other similarly sized horses. Appaloosa horses are known as easy keepers and generally healthy horses. Unless something unusual occurs, you should be able to enjoy your Appaloosa horse for a long time.

Appaloosa’s Color & Spots

Appaloosa’s base colors include bay, black, chestnut, palomino, buckskin, grulla, and dun. Others have a basic solid color with white dots over the entire body or are white with colored dots.

 The Appaloosa’s facial colors and patterns include bald, blaze, snip, stripe, and star. On the legs, you might find these different patterns:
  • Eel Pastern
  • Ankle half-pastern
  • Coronet
  • Stocking
  • Half-stocking
  • Lightning marks. 
The unique spotting patterns include:
  1. Blanket – are a white mark over its hip which can stretch from the tail to the neck base.
  2. Leopard -are a white pattern exhibited to a base colored spot of various sizes covering most of the body.
  3. Snowcap – this blanket can extend across most of the body. It usually retains its base color on the head, legs, flanks, and elbows.
  4. Snowflake -are white spots, flecks, on a dark body. The white spots usually rise in number and size as the horse grows older.
  5. Varnish – are dark points from its leg to the hip may show at an early age, and spots over a light body.
  6. Frost – It is similar to varnish but the white hairs are limited to the back, loins, and neck. This happens in conjunction with another spotting style and changes with age. It often starts as a solid-colored horse that gets more white as it ages.

Unique Characteristics of the Appaloosa

The Appaloosa’s agility valued traits, along with faithfulness and gentle demeanor. The striping on the Appaloosa’s hooves is unusual among horses. It runs vertically, with a distinct alternating pattern of dark and light on each hoof. In addition, Appaloosa’s sclera is visible. It is a characteristic not seen in many breeds of horses.

The Appaloosa Horse is an amazing animal, a horse can sleep by standing up in a normal position or lying down.

Are Appaloosa Horses Fast?

Yes, Appaloosa horses are generally fast and athletic horses. The Nez Perce bred for speed in their horses. The modern Appaloosa horses are infused with the quarter horses. The quarter horse gene further increased the speed in the Appaloosa. Appaloosa horses are generally fast and athletic horses.

Are Appaloosa Horses Good For Beginners? 

It depends on the horse you have.  There are some good kinds of Appaloosas and some bad ones too. In some rare instances, appaloosa can be aggressive and doesn’t like to be put under saddle. The horse becomes unruly and hard to discipline. 

However, if you pick the right horse, this gentle breed is a good choice for beginning equestrians. Appaloosa is perfect for anyone wanting a devoted equine companion. Many children can even comfortably manage an Appaloosa. It’s a fairly low-maintenance horse and a versatile breed that is ideal for a basic riding horse as well as an equestrian sports competitor.

What Is Appaloosa’s Temperament?

Appaloosa horses have temperaments you expect in hot-blooded horses. They are high spirited and willing learners that are smart, brave, and independent. Best suited for experienced riders.

The Appaloosa horse temperament is that of simplicity. This breed of horses is truly calm and reliable. Appaloosa horses are the type of animal that is great for training while it is still young. The horse can easily pick up skills. The young appaloosa has little personality thus avoid common attitude problems. 

Appaloosa Horse Is Use For?

Appaloosas are breed by the people of Nez Perce for travel, hunting, and war. Modern Appaloosa remains a highly versatile horse.

Its uses include:
  • Pleasure and long-distance trail riding
  • Working cattle and rodeo events
  • Racing
  • Many other Western and English riding sports. 

The breed is popular in film and on television, where its distinctive markings can steal a scene. It is a friendly, gentle horse, whose loyalty makes it a great companion.

The Appaloosas are use in: 
  1. Ranch work
  2. Show horse
  3. Stock horse
  4. Racing and Long-distance riding.

They are breed for strength and endurance. 

Appaloosa Horse’s Health & Behavior 

Appaloosa’s need a standard horse diet consists of:
  • Fresh grass
  • Quality hay
  • Grains
  • Fruits and Vegetables.
  • Appaloosa needs vitamin and mineral supplementations if they cannot graze freely in the pasture. The amount of food they need largely depends on their size and activity level. 

In general, appaloosas lack significant behavioral problems and are not susceptible to lameness. But many can develop certain eye problems. For one, their eyes tend to water, which can attract flies and lead to infection or irritation. A fly mask can help protect the area.

An Appaloosa Horse doesn’t have a gall bladder. An Appaloosa Horse has a better sense of hearing or smell than humans. Appaloosa Horse breeds are prone to recurring uveitis and innate stationary night blindness. Uveitis is an infection of the eye’s uveal tract. It causes puffiness, redness, and squinting. It can lead to retina damage if left untreated.

An adult male Appaloosa Horse has 40 teeth, and 36 teeth for the female. Moreover, many Appaloosas carry the gene that can cause congenital stationary night blindness. Afflicted horses lack night vision starting at birth. A veterinary ophthalmologist can check whether a horse has the condition.


Grooming at least once or twice a week is ideal to remove dirt, debris, and tangles. If you’ve got a white horse, brushings the coat regularly will keep it good. Regular use of horse shampoo can also help. In addition, make hoof inspections daily to look for injuries and prevent infections.

Appaloosas are vulnerable to sun damage, particularly the areas with light hair. Consider an equine-safe sunscreen, and provide your horse with shade at all times.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!