The American Paint Horse is a breed of horse that combines both the conformational characteristics of a western stock horse with a pinto spotting pattern of white and dark coat colors.
Developed from a base of spotted horses with Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred bloodlines, the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) breed registry is now one of the largest in North America.
The American Paint Horse shares a common ancestry with the American Quarter Horse and the Thoroughbred. A registered Paint horse should conform to the same “stock horse” body type desired in Quarter Horses: a muscular animal that is heavy but not too tall, with a low center of gravity for maneuverability, and powerful hindquarters suitable for rapid acceleration and sprinting.
Undeterred, fans of colorful stock horses formed a variety of organizations to preserve and promote Paint horses. In 1965 some of these groups merged to form the American Paint Horse Association.
The American Paint Horse is known for its amiability. Its good nature, plus its innate intelligence, makes the American Paint Horse a pleasure to train for performance competitions, and above all, an ideal companion outside of the ring.
The American Paint Horse comes in various colors, amongst them, bay, chestnut, black, palomino, gray, buckskin, and blue roan. But, more important than their physical coloring, are their distinctive white markings. While the marks vary in size, the patterns are standard. The two predominant coat patterns of Paint Horses, the overo andtobiano, are distinguished by the position of the white coloring on the body.
- Tobiano: The most common spotting pattern, characterized by rounded markings with white legs and white across the back between the withers and the dock of the tail, usually arranged in a roughly vertical pattern and more white than dark, with the head usually dark and with markings like that of a normal horse. i.e. star, snip, strip, or blaze.
- Overo: A group of spotting patterns characterized by sharp, irregular markings with a horizontal orientation, usually more dark than white, though the face is usually white, sometimes with blue eyes. The white rarely crosses the back, and the lower legs are normally dark.
This breed is perceived as a generally healthy breed. With one known breed-specific health issues, owners have to watch out for lethal white syndrome. The American Paint is capable of performing various tasks very well. The most common ones are dressage, general riding, jumping, racing, rodeo, and work. With a diverse set of abilities, this breed can accommodate the various needs of horse owners.