Guest Author - Kim Wende
It has been said that the Appaloosa has an excellent disposition. The characteristics of the Appaloosa are mottled skin, short mane and tail, and vertically striped hooves. One of the most interesting is the visible white sclera that encircles the iris of the eyes just like that of humans.
The horses were bred to be sure footed, fast, and strong. They are very intelligent, but can be stubborn. The average Appaloosa stands between 14.2 to 15.3 hands and some are taller. Those that are under 14 hands are not eligible for the registry.
Their coat comes in a variety of patterns. There are five basic coat patterns: Frost, Leopard, Snowflake, Marble, and the Blanket. Not all Appaloosas have a colorful coat pattern as some are a solid color which means they have no coat pattern. They can develop spots as late as five years old, but not all do. When breeding to solids it is possible to get a colored foal.
The first evidence of a spotted horse were found in cave paintings dating around 18,000 BC. They were introduced to the Nez Perce Indians by the Spanish explorers. The Nez Perce Indians refined the breed by breeding the best to the best.
The superior horses were used during war and also for buffalo hunts because of their stamina. The horses that were flashy were the most valuable. Their spots helped to camouflage the horse and rider from their enemies. The short manes and tails are a characteristic that was desired in the breed so that they wouldn't be easily caught in the brush.
The Appaloosa got its name because they inhabited the region of the Palouse River. The white settlers called them “a Palouse” which eventually became Appaloosa although the Nez Perce never referred to them as “Appaloosas”.
In 1877 the Army confiscated most of the horses when Chief Joseph surrendered that is when the horses were bred indiscriminately. This type of breeding caused many of them to lose their unique traits.
A farmer and long time breeder by the name of Claude Thompson realized the importance of preserving the breed and established the Appaloosa horse club in 1938. The Appaloosa registry has more than 635,000 registered horses. In 1975 the Appaloosa was named as Idaho's state horse.
Today Appaloosas are used in several disciplines such as endurance, trail riding, racing, dressage, jumping, roping, reining, western pleasure, working cow horse and rodeo's. If, you're looking for a good family horse, then consider the Appaloosa.