The American Paint Horse is a western stock horse with pinto coloring. This horse is considered a “color breed’ and was developed by crossing pinto colored horses with quarter horse or thoroughbred bloodlines. Currently, to be registered in the American Paint Horse Association, the horse must be a descendent of either of these two breeds or from another registered Paint horse.
Paints are currently one of the fastest growing bloodlines due to their appearance, acceleration and agility. Paint horse colors include combinations of white with any color of the equine spectrum including brown, dun, black, bay, grulla, sorrel, palomino, buckskin, grey and roan.
The shape and size of the markings may vary and can be located anywhere on the horse’s body.
There are three main types of color pattern found on Paint horses. They are overo, tobiano and tovero. The overo has a colored base with white patches that start under the belly and spread
upward. There are sub-categories that fall under the overo, which are sabino and splashed white. The tobiano has a white base with large colored patches, usually with white legs and white markings across the back. The tovero has dark pigmentation around the ears and muzzle, a chest spot, a flank spot, and usually one or both eyes are blue.
The difference between a Paint and a pinto is as follows: the Paint horse must have the Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred or American Paint Horse bloodlines in order to qualify as paint. A pinto is a horse of any breed that has the pinto coloration. Therefore all APHA horses are pintos, but not all pintos are paints.
The original ancestors of the American Paint Horse were the free- range horses of the American plains. Horses with the pinto coloration were recorded as being seen as early as the 1500’s. By the 1800’s, they were a favorite mount of the Commanche Indians.
In the 1950’s, a group of people interested in preserving the heritage of the pinto horse got together and formed the Pinto Horse Association. While this group was dedicated to all bloodlines, another association formed in the 1960’s. This latter group decided to preserve those colored horses of the stock-type body. In 1962 the first pedigree was recorded for what later became the American Paint Horse Association. Now the APHA is the second largest horse registry in the US, behind the American Quarter Horse Association.
The Association is much like the AQHA in that it offers affiliate shows and even a World Show where the best of the best in the paint world can compete. Classes range from western pleasure to hunt seat classes, cattle classes to speed events, and from halter and showmanship classes to reining.
The American Paint Horse has common ancestry with the American Quarter Horse and should resemble the build and structure of that breed. This means that they should be a muscular animal that is heavy and not overly tall, maintaining a low center of gravity for best dexterity and maneuverability. They should have powerful hindquarters that allow rapid acceleration and extreme sprinting over short distances. This type of build and athletic ability, combined with their flashy color, makes them an extremely popular breed.
One thing to be aware of as a paint horse breeder is the predisposition to a genetic disease called lethal white syndrome. Affected foals are born apparently normal, though they have all white or nearly all white coats and blue eyes.
These foals, no matter how normal they seem on the outside, do not have a functioning colon. Within a few hours, signs of colic appear, and the foals die a painful death within a few days. Most owners choose to euthanize the foals before they suffer this end. It is a rare condition and is virtually undetectable until the eleventh month of gestation when an apparently normal foal is born.