What Is A Medicine Hat Horse?

Last Updated on March 1, 2022 by Allison Price

Horses are amazing creatures. But, there’s something special about medicine hat horses. They are rare and supposedly have special powers. What is a medicine-hat horse, beyond myths and mystery?

Technically, a pinto horse is a medicine horse. Pinto horses have alternate white and dark patches in their coats. Medicine hat horses, like all pinto horses are also patched. Their only dark spots are usually on the ears and head.

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Medicine Hat Horse Coat Patterns & Color

Horses with a Medicine Hat are horses that display a particular – and very rare – color pattern.

These horses sport dark patches on their ears and heads that resemble hats or bonnets. Although the face is predominantly white, some horses may have darker patches around the chin. The horse’s body is also largely white. However, some horses may have small dark spots on their belly or flanks.

Technically, medicine hat horses have a tovero coloration mixture, which is a mix of the overo and tobiano pinto horse patterns.

What is the Tovero Pattern?

Tovero is a pinto horse that displays a mixture of overo and tobiano patterns.

Tobiano is a spotted design that is produced by the dominant gene. These horses have dark brown hair with pink spots and white patches. All tobiano horses have the same characteristics regardless of their pattern disposition.

  • White legs starting at the knees and hocks
  • Similar facial markings to a solid-colored horse
  • White crosses the back between the withers and the tail at the base.
  • Dark colors that run down the neck, giving it the appearance of a shield.
  • White patches with oval or round shapes
  • White is best arranged vertically.

Overo can be described as a variety of white-overdark coat markings. The most common is frame overo.

Although frame overo horses look solid-colored, they have a white face and white patches in horizontal orientation. The majority of markings are jagged, rather than the oval or round tovero shapes.

Medicine Hat Horse

Blue eyes are a common characteristic in frame overo horses. This can also be found in tovero (medicine hat) horses.

Tovero horses, pintos with both overo and tobiano characteristics, are called tovero horses. A tovero horse might have oval or round patches on its body, and blue eyes.

The heads of medicine hat horses are white and have no markings. Any existing markings are oval or round in shape and have sharp edges.

Medicine Hat Horse Colors

Pinto horses can have any color that is found in medicine hat horses, such as black, chestnut brown, palomino or roan. These horses are extremely rare because their predominant color is white.

Watch A Medicine Hat Filly’s first day outside

Horse Temperament and Behavior of Medicine Hat Horses

Medicine hat horses are not classified as a particular breed, just like all pinto horses. Any horse can be a medicine horse, regardless of its breed. As long as it has the correct coat pattern, it is not necessary to have a specific breed. The behavior and temperament of a particular medicine hat horse will determine its behavior and temperament.

Medicine hat horses are smart and easy to train. Many horses get along well with other horses and other animals.

  • Standard medicine hat horses measure at least 14 hands in stature
  • The size of medicine hat ponies is between 9.5 to 14 hands
  • Miniature horses for medicine hats are usually between 8.5 and 9.5 hands. However, Miniature-B horses may be larger than that.

Legends and beliefs about the Medicine Hat Horse

Due to their rarity, medicine-hat horses were thought to possess magical powers. Anyone riding such a horse would be safe. The horse would be more powerful if one or both of its eyes were blue.

Native American culture is the source of most legends about medicine hat horses. These horses were believed to provide supernatural protection. They were often ridden frequently by the “medicine men”, the healers of the tribes.

The Medicine Man, a figure of healing and spiritual leadership in many indigenous tribes was a strong character.

The connection between the Medicine Man and Medicine Hat Horses

Native American history is full of stories about the connections between healers and spiritual leaders and rare medicine hat horses.

According to legend, healers shared a supernatural connection often with animals. Therefore, the only horse they should have ridden was a horse called a medicine horse or a war horse.

It was easy to understand why. The reason was simple. Most tribes believed that the medicine hat horse would help heal others and protect the medicine man in battle. Many tribes believed that the man-horse pair could warn of imminent dangers.

Most tribes painted symbols on horses’ coats to celebrate their special abilities as medicine hat horses. The tribes used different paints to paint symbols depending on their purpose, such as protection, victory or luck.

Medicine Hat Horse Symbols and Their Meaning

To distinguish themselves from other tribes, Indigenous tribes used various symbols. Some symbols were painted on horses with medicine hats, however, and these symbols were common among the tribes. Let’s look at the meaning of the most popular symbols:

  • A circle around either one or both eyes. This symbol is generally red and was used to alert vision.
  • A circle surrounding the nostrils – Similar to the circle around an eye, it was believed a circle around each nostril would give a more keen sense of smell.
  • Arrow – A straight, blue arrow was thought to bring victory.
  • Fire Arrow: This red color, usually in a zigzag pattern, would give strength to the warrior and cause trouble for the enemy.
  • Thunder (or lightning) stripes: These stripes, which are usually blue or purple, were believed to please war gods.
  • Yellow Arrowheads: This symbol is painted on the four hooves of horses to make them move quickly.
  • Hailstones : These hailstones, which were either blue or purple, were more of an appeal for hail to hit the enemy.
  • Red Cross: The horse and its rider were rescued from an ambush by a red cross.
  • Horseshoe prints – The number of horseshoe symbol denotes the number of horses that the warrior has captured in raids.
  • Two green handsprints were placed on the chest of a horse to indicate that it had defeated an enemy.
  • One purple upside down handprint: This symbol is the most valuable that a warrior can place on his horse. It denotes warriors who are on do or die missions.
  • One blue print: This symbol is placed on the hip of horses and was intended to signify that they have returned home safely from dangerous missions.

What Does a Medicine Hat Horse Cost You?

Medicine hat horses, as mentioned previously, are very rare. They can be pinto horses from any breed but most medicine hats are Mustangs or Spanish Barb horses. Medicine hat horses are rare and highly sought-after, making them expensive.

A miniature mare will cost you around $3800, while a filly of American Paint can cost around $5,000. Horses that have been trained for hunting or racing will generally be more expensive than stallions.

Thoroughbreds and other more expensive bloodlines can run you up to $10,000 depending on their lineage and performance.


Medicine hat horses are one of the most rare types of pinto. They have been long considered to be magical and possess supernatural powers. Although we now know these beliefs are legends, it is not impossible to believe that riding a medicine horse while winning a race can give you a sense of power.

You can see the differences in their temperaments and behaviors depending on which breed they are. Medicine hats, like all pinto horses are easy to maintain and low-maintenance. A medicine hat horse is a great choice for anyone looking for a horse to enjoy, race, or show.

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!