The American Paint Horse descended from horses introduced by the Spanish conquistadors. Paint Horses became part of the herds of wild horses that roamed the Western plains of America. Native Americans widely used the Paint, and some even believed this horse to possess magical powers. The Paint horse was known to be one of the hardest working breeds, which is why they were popular with Native Americans, cowboys and farmers alike. The modern Paint Horse is a naturally intelligent breed, amiable and easily trained. The stock-type conformation, intelligence, and willing attitude make the Paint Horse an excellent horse for pleasure riding, ranch work, showing, rodeo, trail riding, racing, or as a friendly mount for the entire family.

The American Paint descended from horses introduced by the Spanish conquistadors.

Individual Colours and Markings

Each Paint is an individual, due to the distinctive colours and coat markings. It's these unique markings that give the Paint Horse their name.

This distinctive patterning falls into three categories:

  • Overo: the Overo pattern refers to a pattern in which white markings do not appear between the withers and tail. One, if not all, of the horse's legs will be a solid colour (brown, grey, back or tan). The markings on the face may be standard, but most of the markings on the rest of the body will be irregular and scattered.
  • Tobiano: In this pattern, the markings and white spots are regular. Spots are often oval or round and all four of the legs are white. The tail will typically be two colours - white and dark.
  • Tovero - paint horses with the tovero colour pattern have at least one blue eye, and often both eyes will be blue. Where the white splashes of colours are located with the tovero pattern is not as important as the location of the dark colour markings. Dark pigmentation appears around their mouth, ears and flanks. Dark spots are also found around the base of the tail and on the chest or neck.

Breeding Paint Horses

The ability to recognise these patterns and understand the genetics behind is essential for Paint Horse Breeders. A comprehensive knowledge of these coat patterns helps breeders and owners accurately describe their horses. An understanding of the genetics behind this patterns helps the breeders increase proportions of spotted horses in their foal crops.

Paint or Pinto?

The Pinto is the Spanish word for "paint". Most Paints are also Pintos, but not all Pintos are Paints. This is determined by the relevant Paint Associations, according to their blood lines. A pinto may be of any breed or combination of breeds. For a horse to be registered as an American Paint Horse however, it must have registered Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred parents. Therefore, all Paint horses could be registered as pintos, but not all Pintos qualify to be registered a Paints.

Registering a Paint Horse

A registered Paint Horse is more valuable than an unregistered Paint Horse. The registration certificate is a documentation of the animal's bloodlines, an indication of probable athletic ability and life-time identification, no matter where he goes. This certificate, properly kept up-to-date, provides ready reference to previous owners and is the key to researching past performance as provided by the records of the relevant Paint Horse Associations.

Paint Horses and Eventing

Paint horses are able to perform well in a wide variety of events. The breed is a capable and versatile equine athlete, endearing themselves to riders and rousing admiration from all those who see them. They are easy-riding trail horses and hardworking ranch hands. They are standouts in every type of show ring class, rodeo champions, stakes-winning race horses, and dependable gymkhana mounts. Paints are favoured breed often chosen for youth activity projects. The Paint horse can be susceptible to injury, like all elite elite athletes who train and work hard. They can also show stress related tendencies under working conditions. Therefore, it is important to watch for the symptoms of gastric ulcers in this hardworking horse.