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The Appaloosa Horse, or "Appy" as it is called, was bred by The Nez Perce Indian tribe. They called the breed "Palouse". The basic coat colors are the same as found in most breeds. What sets the Appaloosa foal apart from other breeds are spots and blankets containing spots. They are some of the most recognIzable coat patterns.
The origin of the Appaloosa Horse traces back many centuries to ancient China and Persia. However recent history credits its' survival to the Nez Perce Indian tribes of the area of eastern Washington, Oregon and western Idaho.
The "Palouse" horse almost certainly came to North America with the Spanish Conquistadores who attained them from Austria and Hungary.
When the Nez Perce came into contact with their first Appaloosa horses they soon recognized the potential of the breed and took advantage of the outstanding conditions of the climate and terrain in which they lived. They established breeding herds by the year 1750 and used a strict selection process. They traded away inferior animals and gelded unsuitable males.
Lewis and Clark first became acquainted with the Nez Perce and their outstanding horses in 1806. Lewis made a journal entry on February 15 of that year, writing "Their horses appear to be of an excellent race: they are lofty, eligenty (sic) formed, active and durable and in short many of them look like fine English Coursers and would make a fine figure in any country."
By 1861 the popularity of Appaloosa horses, described as "elegant chargers fit to mount a Prince" were enriching the tribe. When ordinary horses were selling for $15, the Nez Perce would often turn down offers of as much as $600.
The "Appy" is best known for its' distinctive colorization and spotting pattern. However, there are three other "core characteristics". They are mottled skin, stripped hooves and eyes with a white sclera.
The skin mottling is generally seen around the eyes, muzzle, anus and genitalia.
Stripped hooves are normal in the breed and considered a common trait.
The sclera surrounds the iris and is a distinctive characteristic, seen more in the Appaloosa than in other breeds.
There is probably a wider range of colors in the "Appy" than in any other breed. The usual colors, such as chestnut, sorrel, bay, brown,, black, gray or roan are present. Additionally, buckskin, grulla, dun and palomino are recognized.
Spotting patterns are often not apparent in a foal and may not appear until later. Dalmation dog owners are well acquainted with this characteristic. Some of the most common patterns are:
1-SPOTS: Refers to a horse with white or dark spots over all or a portion of its' body
2-BLANKET OR SNOWCAP: A white area, usually over the hip, with a contrasting hip color.
3-BLANKET WITH SPOTS: A white blanket with dark spots within the white.
4-LEOPARD: A white individual with dark spots.
There are many other coat patterns, but the afore-mentioned are the most common.
The Appaloosa has been trained for just about anything horses can do. They, in addition to being ridden as Western or English pleasure horses, are used as cutting or roping horses, polo ponies, jumpers, barrel racers and race horses. A serious attempt to increase the speed in the breed was made in 1937 when many mares were crossed with Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse stallions.
A cross with ponies also produced the popular "Pony of Americas". The "POA'S" must stand between 11-2 and 14.0 hands in height and possess Appoloosa-like characteristics.
An additional popular use of the Appoloosa horse is as a parade horse. Probably the most famous of which was "Domino" who took the parade world by storm in the 1940's.
Considering the Appoloosa body type is where a wide variation is noticeable. The "Appy" has been cross-bred with Arabians, Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds as well as, to a lesser degree, just about every breed of horse available.
The Appaloosa X Quarter Horse was probably the most prevalent, but many were also crossed with Thoroughbreds in order to produce a faster individual for racing.
In 2004 the Nez Perce tribe in the Clearwater River area of Western Idaho began an equine genetic experiment. They decided to attempt to regain the conformation of the Appaloosa of the Lewis and Clark era. They purchased an Akhai-Teke stallion from Turkey for crossing with their native Appaloosa mares. The hope being that this cross would result in offspring that would resemble the Appaloosas of the early 1800's.
NOTE: I am attempting to obtain the result of the Akhai-Teke experiment as well as some pictures to be included with this page. As soon as I can they will be included. You may want to check back occasionally as this page is still under construction.
You are invited to visit the home page for Foal To Yearling Halters here.