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The Appaloosa Breed
 By Winniefield Park   •   6th Feb 2019   •   752 views   •   0 comments


The Appaloosa breed began in the mid-west. Itís truly an all American breed. The horses we see today are descendants of horses selectively bred by the Nez Perce (French for Pierced Nose), an indigenous people who lived in central Idaho, northeastern Oregon, and south-eastern Washington states. They called themselves NiimŪipuu, which in their language means ďthe walking peopleĒ. But in the 1700s, these people acquired horses, the descendants of escaped Spanish mounts.

They quickly became people who rode horses.

The Nez Perce through very careful breeding practices created a horse that was agile, compact, hardy, easy going and intelligent. Perhaps most distinctive is the colorful coat patterns. Spotted horses have been prized for centuries, and the Nez Perce were able to create horses with beautiful spotted blankets, or all-over leopard spots.

Typically, the Appaloosa horse is 14.2 and 15 hands high and weighs an average of 950 to 1,200 pounds. While the original Appaloosas were racy and compact, todayís horses may be crossed with stockier American Quarter Horses or other breed. Some sources suggest that in an effort to destroy the Nez Perceís culture, the horses were destroyed or others were bred to draft or other breeds and types. There is no stringent breed profile as there are many body types within the breed. They are well known to be long-lived and easy to look after. Blue eyes are not uncommon within the breed and their hooves are often stripped. These pink areas of skin are often freckled or spotted too.

There are a few things that Appaloosa horse owners need to be aware of. One more common problem is their susceptibility to sunburn. They often have pink areas around their eyes, muzzle and hindquarters. These areas are almost hairless and can burn easily. Their eyes might have a tendency to water more than other breeds. Sunblock, eye masks, daytime stabling, and a place to get out of the sun can minimize the risk. They are also more prone to equine recurrent uveitis and some carry a genetic disorder that causes night blindness from birth. They may need extra protection from biting insects because their manes and tails can be sparse.

But the color of the horses is what attracts most people to the breed. Horses might have a basic color of dun, bay, roan, grey, chestnut, cremello and perlino, grullo, buckskin, black, or brown. But, of course, these horses arenít typically solid colored. They can have white or dark patches or spots. Blankets of their haunches and other distinctive markings are a genetic trait, passed down from horse to horse.

There are a few different coat pattern markings that are recognized by the breed association: When the haunches are all white itís called a blanket and it may be spattered with spots. Dark spots on a largely white body is called a Leopard pattern. A dark body spattered with white spots is called snowflake. And a marbleized coat is dark, interspersed with white hairs.

Of course, there are solid colored horses, but they may be registered if they show distinctive characteristics like vertically striped hooves and mottled skin.

The Appaloosa is a great breed for the first time horse owner as they are docile and undemanding to care for. They tend to be hardy, with tough hooves. They can be agile event horses, handy in rodeo events or tireless on the trail. Like any horse, they need to be trained and handled properly. But once an Appaloosa learns, it can be reliable and consistent.

In 1994 the Nez Perce began a program to a horse more true to their original ideal. This was done by breeding Appaloosas to Akhal-Tekes. These are not called Appaloosas, but Nez Perce horses.

Do you know an Appaloosa? Whatís your favorite coat pattern?
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