The Appaloosa horse is of particular interest in the northwestern United States because it played a major role in the Indian Wars and in the development of the early-day livestock industry. Origin and Native Home Ancient art attest to the fact that spotted horses are as old as recorded history.
Without the doubt, the ancestors of the Appaloosa were introduced into Mexico by the early Spanish explorers. Eventually (about 1730), through trading, wars, and capturing strays, the Nez Perce tribe of American Indians came into possession of some of these spotted horses.
The Indians were pleased with these colorful mounts and greatly increased their numbers on their fertile ranges in northeastern Oregon, southeastern Washington, and the bordering area in Idaho.
Eventually, these horses came to be known as the Appaloosa, which name is said to be derived from the word Palouse, which in turn came from the French word “peluse,” meaning grassy sward. The rollings Palouse country was formerly covered by virgin prairie, but it is now a world-famous wheat and pea country.
For many years, most of the Appaloosa horses were owned by the Nez Perce tribe, but the War of 1877 resulted in their being scattered throughout the West. Finally, on December 30, 1938, the Appaloosa Horse Club was organized for the purpose of preserving and promoting the breed.
Appaloosas may show many variations and combinations of unusual coat patterns, but the colorful spots are characteristic. Most members of the breed are white over the loin and hips, with dark, round, or egg-shaped spots varying in size from specks up to three or four inches in diameter. The eye is encircled by white, the same as the human eye; the skin is mottled, and the hoofs are striped vertically black and white.
Animals not having Appaloosa characteristics; animals of draft horse, pony, albino, or Pinto breeding; cryptorchids; and animals under 14 hands at maturity (five years of age) are not eligible for registry.
Adaptation and Use
Though once used for war, racing, and buffalo hunting, Appaloosas are now used for stock horses, pleasure horses, parade mounts, and racehorses.