10 Fun Facts on Appaloosa Horses: Things You’ve Never Heard

The Appaloosa is one of my favorite breeds to just look at because of their grace, beauty, and stunning spotted coat. There are many things that I have recently learned about this unique breed that I never knew before. Here are some of the most interesting facts on the Appaloosa breed:

1. Settlers Called Them “Palouse Horses”

Settlers moving across the land of North America to populate the continent called these spotted horses Palouse Horses. They were called this because of a river known as the Palouse River that ran through what was once Nez Perce territory.

The breed ran through several different names before settling on Appaloosa. Some of the names that these horses were known as include:

  • Palouse Horse
  • Apalouse
  • Appalucy
  • Appalousy
  • Appaloosie

2. The True Coat Color of an Appaloosa Can’t be Determined Until the Horse is Fully Grown

Like with grey horses and roan horses, it is kind of hard to determine the end result of a horse’s color until they are older. Appaloosas are the same way. Some appaloosas have coat colors that will roan out or grey out over time so it can be nearly impossible to know their true coat color from birth.

3. These Horses Have a Base Coat Color with an Overlaying Spot Pattern

Did you know that a black and white appaloosa is really a black appaloosa with white spots? Any white markings in a coat pattern actually fall over the dark colors in a horse’s coat.

The Appaloosa Horse Club recognizes 13 base coat colors for these horses. These colors include:

  • Bay
  • Black
  • Gray
  • Chestnut
  • Palomino
  • Buckskin
  • Cremello
  • Perlino
  • Red roan
  • Bay roan
  • Blue roan
  • Dun
  • Grulla

4. Appaloosas Can Be Solid Colored

Though these horses are mainly known for their spotted coat patterns, they can in fact be solid colored as well. They can still be deciphered from other horse breeds and identified as Appaloosas by their striped hooves, mottled skin, and white-rimmed eyes.

5. All Appaloosas Have Mottled Skin, Striped Hooves, & Eyes with a White Sclera

This is one of the easiest ways to tell Appaloosas apart from other horses (other than looking at the horse’s papers or parents). Every single Appaloosa, regardless of the color of their coat, will contain these traits.

Mottled skin is a staple in the Appaloosa breed. These horses will have light and dark flecks and mixed pigmentation all over their bodies. This mix of pigmentation is generally seen all over the horse’s body and usually it will determine where the horse’s spots are (dark skin = dark hair, light skin = light hair).

Because of the random pigmentation seen in the skin of these horses, it causes the color of their hooves to be random and striped. This is why the hooves on most Appaloosas are striped and irregularly colored.

These horses have white around their eyes that is visible at all times. This is a trait that stands out in this breed making them easy to identify. This white part of their eye is known as the sclera and in most horse breeds, it is dark.

6. This Breed Was Created By The Nez Perce Native Americans

It was the Appaloosa breed that was so important to the Nez Perce native Americans. This breed was bred by this tribe to be loyal, spotted (for camouflage when in trees), fierce, brave, and have great stamina. Now that this tribe had access to horses thanks to their importation by the Spanish, they began to breed and develop their own breed that was ideal for all that they needed horses for.

When one of the horses owned by the Nez Perce was pregnant, they would paint spots on her body and hindquarters in hopes that the foal would then be born spotted.

7. The Appaloosa is the State Horse of Idaho

In the year 1975, the governor of Idaho, Cecil Andrus, signed a legislation naming the Appaloosa breed as the Idaho state horse.

With this breed now officially recognized as the horse of Idaho, this state then created custom license plates with the image of an Appaloosa horse adorning the front. Now, in the state of Idaho, anyone could put this horse’s image on their car.

8. No 2 Appaloosas Have the Same Spot Pattern

The coat patterns of the Appaloosa are kind of like finger prints. With no two fingerprints being the same, this is also the case when it comes to the Appaloosa’s coat pattern.

Though there are different types of coat patterns seen in this breed, no two are the same, even if they fall into the same category when it comes to types of markings.

The different types of spot patterns found in the Appaloosa breed include:


A blanket marking is a white marking that covers the hindquarters, croup, and loins. If this marking is purely white, it can be considered a snow cap marking.


If a horse has random spotting in no apparent pattern, it would just be called spots. This would mean that there are a random arrangement of different colored spots all over the body.

Blanket With Spots

A blanket marking with spots would be a white marking on the hindquarters and an arrangement of white spotting over a base coat color.

Roan Blanket

A roan blanket is basically just a roan base coat with a white blanket marking on the horse’s hindquarters.

Roan Blanket With Spots

This marking or pattern is basically a blanket with spots that has a roan coat color as the base color. This would mean that there is a roan horse that has a white blanket pattern in it’s hindquarters and random spotting everyhwere else in its coat.


A snowflake coat pattern consists of a dark base coat with white spots. It looks as if it is snowing on the horse.


In a leopard coat pattern, the base color of the coat is white and the coat is speckled with dark spots. This is the most common coat pattern seen in this breed.


A frost coat pattern is basically a dark coat with small white specks. This is kind of like the opposite of a flea-bitten horse.

9. The Appaloosa Helped to make the Nez Perce Tribe a Nomadic Hunting Tribe

The Nez Perce Native Americans were once a tribe who dwelled in sound structures near rivers and lakes where they would fish and grow foods. When the horse was introduced to the tribe, everything changed.

With these people once being settled in their place, horses now gave these people the freedom to travel, migrate, hunt large prey, and invade neighboring areas.

10. Appaloosas are Known to be Fierce & Independent

When it came their breeding, the Nez Perce incorporated horses that carried fierceness, loyalty, stamina, and independence making them the fiery horses that we know today as Appaloosas.

Hailey Sipila

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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