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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Appaloosa (Appy) [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
Spotted horses had existed since prehistoric times in Europe and Asia, and were bred in various countries throughout history, one of them was Spain.
Spanish spotted horses were brought to the Americas by Spanish conquistadors and settlers during the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of those horses escaped to the wild while others were traded to Native American tribes, the most notable of which was the Nez Perce tribe. The Spanish spotted horses obtained by the Nez Perce are the ancestors of the Appaloosa breed.
[The above is the consensus. Some claim that the ancestors of the Appaloosa are spotted horses who roamed North America after the flooding of the Bering Bridge, but this claim lacks archeological evidence.]
The Nez Perce and the Appaloosa:
The Nez Perce people had a natural talent for breeding horses with specific qualities. They were the first Native Americans to geld stallions who were weak, slow, had flawed conformation, or had an insufficiently spotted coat.
Their careful breeding practices improved their stock over time and shaped their spotted horses into a unique breed: the Appaloosa.
A tragic end:
In the 19th century, during the Nez Perce War, the U.S. cavalry chased the Nez Perce people in an attempt to capture them. The Nez Perce escaped on the backs of their Appaloosas which they bred for strength, speed, and endurance. Their Appaloosas traveled fast, without tiring, and the U.S. cavalry never managed to capture them.
Eventually, the tribe's chief, Chief Joseph, decided to surrender in order to spare his people further suffering, thus ending the war. In order to prevent the tribe from escaping again, the U.S. army confiscated and killed most of their Appaloosa horses, and the breed almost went extinct.
Saving the spotted breed:
Luckily, some American breeders who managed to get hold of Appaloosa horses kept breeding them, ensuring the survival of this unique, colorful breed. In 1938, the Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC) was established, and the Appaloosa breed was officially recognized.
The Foundation Appaloosa:
In order to maintain the original, lean conformation of the Appaloosa, the ApHC allowed crossing Appaloosas with Arabians. The offspring, which were labeled with the letter "F" next to their names, are listed in the eight first studbooks of the ApHC, and are now known as "Foundation Appaloosas".
Today, any Appaloosa who traces back to those Foundation lines and who has at least 75% Foundation blood is considered a Foundation Appaloosa (see 'Foundation Appaloosa').
The Modern Appaloosa:
Foundation Appaloosas were good riding horses, but they weren't suited for the racing demands at the time nor for the demands of Western disciplines. In order to improve their performance, the ApHC decided to allow crossing them with Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, the latter being a popular cross.
This created a new Appaloosa subtype: the Modern Appaloosa, whose conformation was similar to that of the Quarter Horse (see the 'Modern Appaloosa'). Most Appaloosa horses today are Modern Appaloosas.
The Appaloosa Today:
Today, the Appaloosa is a massively popular breed, especially in the USA. It is commonly used in Western riding, from recreational riding to competitive disciplines.
In addition, the term 'appaloosa' also got popularized, used loosely to describe any horse with a spotted coat. That said, not every 'appaloosa' spotted horse is a true, 'American' Appaloosa.
Coat pattern and the Non-Characteristic Appaloosa:
The hallmark of the Appaloosa is its spotted coat which comes in six patterns: leopard, snowflake, frost ('roan blanket'), varnish roan ('marble'), spotted blanket, and white blanket ('snowcap'). They also have mottled skin around their eyes and muzzle, as well as striped hooves.
Some Appaloosas are born with solid (non-spotted) coats. Such individuals are eligible for registration as Non-Characteristic Appaloosas, but not as Regular Appaloosas (see 'Non-Characteristic Appaloosa').
A gaited breed?
Some of the original 'Nez Perce' Appaloosas had a unique ambling gait called 'Indian Shuffle'. While Modern Appaloosas lost that gait, some Foundation Appaloosas still exhibit it.
Appaloosas, except for Foundation ones, can be crossed with Quarter Horses, Arabians, and Thoroughbreds (see 'Modern Appaloosa').
Appaloosas can vary in their conformation as it comes down to the amount of Quarter vs. Thoroughbred vs. Arabian vs. authentic Appaloosa influence in their blood.
That said, they usually have a light head with a straight profile, large eyes, and upright, medium ears. The neck has a clear throat latch and connects to prominent withers. The back is short and connects to muscular hindquarters. The chest is broad and the body is muscular, its underline is longer than the back.
The hair of the mane and tail is either straight or wavy, and the mane is short or medium in length.
The following are the: range, average, (SD), and MOE of performance metrics of ordered Appaloosas in Horse Isle (not bred ones). In rare cases, horses might have metrics outside of the range. Breeders can produce horses that are beyond this range.
Speed: 15.3-17.1, 16.1 (0.4), 0.07.
Sprint: 69-85, 77 (4), 0.83.
Accel: 1.11-1.36, 1.26 (0.05), 0.01.
Decel: 1.00-1.20, 1.09 (0.04), 0.01.
Jump: 5.03-5.34, 5.18 (0.06), 0.01.
Pull: 2.22-3.17, 2.64 (0.2), 0.04.
Turning: 63.66-79.18, 71.61 (3.46), 0.68.
Reverse: 2.9-3.5, 3.2 (0.1), 0.03.
Stamina: 49.78-56.55, 52.83 (1.41), 0.28.
Reaction: 0.80-0.89, 0.84 (0.02), 0.00.
Coats & Height:
Colors: all colors except for dominant-white and mushroom*.
* mushroom can be bred into this breed.
Additionals: all modifications except for mealy. The coat is always 'appaloosa' spotted. Pinto is not allowed.
Height: 14hh to 16.1hh.
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