Palominos vs Buckskins: What’s The Difference?

Two golden horses but so many differences! What are the differences anyway? Which is more popular? And what breeds carry these colors?

What’s The Difference Between Palominos and Buckskins?

Palominos are a much lighter colored horse. These horses are golden all over with a white mane and tail. They can range from a dusty gold color to a nearly golden copper color. Buckskins are more of a darker color. Buckskin horses have a black mane and tail and black legs. They have a golden body, but usually, it isn’t as bright in color as the palomino. Both of these colors can be seen in a variety of breeds.

Is Palomino or Buckskin A Breed?

No, Actually neither of these coat colors is considered a breed. There is an association dedicated to the palomino horse, but again, just because there is an association dedicated to the color doesn’t mean they are a breed. The same goes for the buckskin horse. Buckskin is a color, not a breed.

Horse Breeds

Breeds That Can Be Palomino

Palominos, as I mentioned before, are golden horses with a white mane and tail. Palominos can be seen in many breeds including:

  • Paint Horse
  • Quarter Horse
  • Mustang
  • Akhal-Teke
  • Missouri Fox Trotter
  • Saddlebred
  • Thoroughbred
  • Tennessee Walking Horse

Breeds That Can Be Buckskin

Buckskin horses are golden horses with a black mane, tail, and legs. The breeds that officially recognize this coat color are:

  • Quarter Horse
  • Andalusian
  • Mustang
  • Morgan
  • Peruvian Paso
  • Tennessee Walking Horse

Coat Colors

Coat Color of the Palomino

Palomino horses are completely gold on their bodies from their ears to their fetlocks. They usually have a completely white mane and tail though a beige-like color is allowed too. In palominos, white markings on the face and legs are allowed.

When looking at Paint Horses that are palomino, the horses would have white and gold patches all over their body and still carry the typical white mane and tail.

Palomino Roans are golden with white hair mixed with gold hairs across their body giving a faded look to their golden coat. These horses still have the white mane and tail of a typical palomino.

Coat Color of the Buckskin

The buckskin horse has a dusty golden coat, black legs, and a black mane and tail. These horses can have white markings on their face and legs as well.

Though a rare pattern, buckskin Paint Horses can be found. These horses would retain the black legs, mane, and tail, but white patches might appear in the main and tail depending on where white is prevalent

Buckskin Roans are also a rare find. When these horses are roan, they have white ticking in their coat which is essentially white and golden hairs mixing. Like your average buckskin though, they keep their dark mane, tail, and legs.

Will These Horses Stay Golden?


Palomino horses are actually born golden or creme colored and will stay golden for the rest of their lives.

These horses actually can change shades of gold as well. I noticed with my Palomino that in summer she had a brassy golden coat, and in winter she had a more faded coat due to her winter coat coming in. In summer, her tail was whiter as it was bleached by the sun, and in winter it was more yellow-tinted.

The coat colors can change with their diet as well. Palominos with a high protein diet will sometimes get a darker golden-copper coat and can even form dapples. Palominos with a lower protein level in their diet will have a lighter even creme colored coat.


Buckskin horses can earn dapples from a high protein diet just like palominos do. There is little change otherwise in a buckskin’s coat color other than that the winter coat, like the palomino, can affect how ‘golden’ they look.

Fun Facts About Palominos

  • Palominos actually can have an amber-colored eye
  • Fifty percent of all palominos are Quarter Horses. The other fifty percent are other breeds
  • Palomino horses are actually chestnut horses paired with the presence of a creme gene which causes them to be gold and white rather than red. If the horse had two creme genes, it would be considered cremello
  • Mr. Ed was a palomino! Mr. Ed was a star in a television show in the 1960s where the horse would ‘talk’ to his owner
  • The Palomino Horse Association was created in 1936. It was the first Palomino Horse Registry

Fun Facts About Buckskins

  • Buckskin horses, like the palomino, can have an amber-colored eye
  • Buckskin horses are actually bay horses with the presence of one creme gene. If the horse had the presence of two creme genes, it would make the horse Perlino
  • The animated movie Spirit features a buckskin stallion
  • These horses were a popular mount for cowboys and were often featured in old western films

Where Did These Color Names Come From?

Where Did The Name “Palomino” Come From?

The name palomino comes from a royal family in Spain whose name was Palomina. The palomino color originated in Spain and was prized by the royalty there including the Palomina family. This family sent some of their prized golden horses to the New World where the name palomino stuck with them. Today the color is still known as palomino.

Where Did The Name “Buckskin” Come From?

The name buckskin actually is hard to trace back. there are some speculations that the name of this coat color came from the similar colors that some deer have hence the name “buck”-skin.

However, this color can be traced all the way back to Spain just like the Palomino can be. The Spanish were determined to create a golden horse so the buckskin and palomino both stemmed from Spanish horses.

What Disciplines Are These Horses Most Commonly Seen In?

Palomino Horses

Palomino horses are most commonly seen in western riding especially in:

  • Roping
  • Cutting
  • Reining
  • Barrel Racing
  • Halter

These horses stand out in the western arena because of their sleek golden coats. Not only do they compete in the sports listed above, but they are also used in a variety of other rodeo sports.

These horses are not very common in the English riding sports and I am puzzled as to why. One of the main reasons is that this color is fairly uncommon and it may not be allowed in some of the breeds that are used for English competition.

Buckskin Horses

Buckskin horses, like the palomino, are mainly seen in the western areas of riding They compete in many western disciplines including:

  • Roping
  • Cutting
  • Reining
  • Barrel Racing
  • Halter

Like the Palomino, the buckskin horse is primarily seen in western sports and this is because the English horse breeds don’t always allow this color int heir breed associations.

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!

Recent Posts