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Paint Horse

ISSN 2398-2977

Contributor(s) :

Podcast: Paint Horse



  • Hotblood.

General information

  • 'Paint' refers to both breed and color.
  • Originally from the USA.
  • The Paint horse is known to date back to Egyptian times, from the 4th Century BC. Tombs, treasures and artifacts which show the use of Paint horses, in every aspect of daily life, have been found.
  • In the 1950s the Paint horse became as popular as it was in the late 19th Century when it was used extensively by cowboys.
  • One of the major horse breeds in the USA.
  • At the 25th anniversary of the APHA, in 1989, there were just over 170,000 registered Paint horses. The USA is now the second biggest registry of Paint horses.
  • The Paint horse is also very popular in Australia, New Zealand and Germany.
  • The Paint breed is almost identical to the genetics of the Quarterhorse   Quarterhorse  . A Paint born without color ('cropout') is indistiguishable from a Quarterhorse in conformation and general appearance.
  • When used as a color description, 'Paints' can be found in many breeds, eg Walking horses, Saddlebreds (called Spotted Saddlebreds)   Saddlebred  , Warmbloods   Dutch warmblood  and even Thoroughbreds   Thoroughbred  .


Principal uses

  • Western riding.
  • Dressage.
  • Showjumping.
  • Eventing.
  • Hunting.
  • Pony Club.


  • Registered.

Biological Data



  • >14 hh (>1.43 m).


  • White and any color of the equine spectrum and can have blue eyes.
  • Markings can be any shape, size and located virtually anywhere on the body.
  • There are only three specific coat patterns: overo, tobiano and tovero:
    • Overo:
      • White will not usually cross the back of the horse, between its withers and tail.
      • Usually at least one, and often all four legs, are colored.
      • Usually the white areas are irregular and scattered or splashy.
      • Head: usually bald-faced (a cap of color at the top of its head usually including both ears, commonly called a 'medicine hat' Paint horse), apron-faced or bonnet-faced.
      • The tail is usually one color.
    • Tobiano:
      • The dark color usually covers one or both flanks.
      • Usually all four legs are white, at least below the hocks and knees.
      • Usually any spots are regular and distinct as oval or round patterns down the neck and chest.
      • Head: colored or colored with a blaze, strip, star or snip.
      • Either predominantly dark or white.
      • The tail is usually two-tone.
    • Tovero:
      • Dark around the ears (may also cover the forehead and/or eyes), mouth (may also go up the sides of the face to form spots).
      • Different sized chest spot(s) which may extend up the neck.
      • Different sized flank spot(s) which are usually accompanied by smaller spots extending forward across the barrel and up over the loin.
      • One or both eyes are blue.
      • The base of the tail has varying sizes of colored spots.


  • Short broad head with small ears.
  • Alert, kind wide-set eyes.
  • Large nostrils.
  • Short muzzle.
  • Firm mouth with well defined jaws.
  • The head is set on the neck at a near 45° angle with a distinct space between jawbone and neck muscles.
  • Full neck of medium length, slightly arched.
  • Deep, sloping shoulders with medium to high withers and short back.
  • Deep, broad chest.
  • Smooth joints and short cannon bones.
  • Flat strong bones.
  • Well rounded, medium-large hooves, with deep open heels.
  • Collected action.
  • Flat kneed in movement, not obviously gaited.

Disease predisposition

  • Congenital intestinal aganglionosis (Lethal white syndrome):
    • This is a naturally occurring mutation of an equine color gene. The isoleucine amino acid is mutated into a lysine, this takes place in the endothelin receptor B (EDNRB) gene causing the GI tract not to develop fully.
    • Lethal white foals are generally normal at birth, withing a short time period (<12 h) they will begin to show classic signs of colic and will become progressively more bloated and painful.
    • No treatment is yet available.
  • Paint horses with bald faces and unpigmented eyelids are at greater risk of tumors, including squamous cell carcinoma   Skin: neoplasia - squamous cell carcinoma  . Increased exposure to sunlight without the benefit of pigment to protect the periocular skin causes this increase.
  • Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis    Muscle: hyperkalemic periodic paralysis   in horses descended from 'Impressive' sire line.


  • American Paint Horse Association, PO Box 961023, Fort Worth, Texas 76161-0023, USA. Tel: +1 (817) 834-2742; Fax: +1 (817) 834-3152; Website: .
  • Paint Horse Association of Australia, PO Box 1008, Dubbo, NSW, 2830, Australia. Tel: +61 02-6884-5513 ; Fax: +61 02-6884-5517; Email: .
  • Paint Horse Association of New Zealand, PO Box 1597, Taupo, New Zealand. Tel: +64 7-3784457; Fax: +64 7-3770935; Website: .
  • Paint Horse Club Germany e.V, VR 2213, Amtsgericht Kaiserslautern, Präs. K.-U. Solbach, 53819 Neunkirchen-Seelscheid, Germany. Email: .
  • UK Paint Horse Association, UK. Website: .

Further Reading


Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • American Paint Horse Association's Guide to Registration. APHA. Tel: +1 (817) 834-2742.