Breed Profile- Appaloosa Horse

The Appaloosa horse is descended from the horses imported by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century. The Spanish introduced horses to Mexico in the 1500s. Following the Peublo Revolt horses rapidly spread throughout North America. The Nez Perce tribe began to develop the breed and the name. Appaloosa is derived from the Palouse river, which ran through Northern


The horse changed the life- style of the Nez Perce tribe. They went from sedentary fishermen to mobile hunters known for their hunting skills. The Nez Perce were one of the first, and certainly most skillful, people to begin selective breeding of the their horses. They established herds and by gelding or trading any horses that were not of the highest quality, maintained a breed standard. By the 1700’s the Nez Perce had established their herds and gained a considerable reputation for their horses. They also became known for their horsemanship skills. They bred the Appaloosa not only for it’s attractive spotted markings, which were excellent camouflage, but also for it’s qualities of stamina, endurance, speed and athleticism.

Explorer Meriwether Lewis was appropriately impressed with the breeding accomplishments of the Nez Perce, as he noted in a diary entry in 1806- “Their horses appear to be of an excellent race; they are lofty, elegantly formed, active and durable. Some of these horses are pied with large spots of white irregularly scattered and intermixed with black, brown, bay or some other dark color.” By the late 1800’s settlers flooded onto the Nez Perce reservations and conflict ensued. The Nez Perce War of 1877 resulted in their herd being dispersed. The U.S Army captured the horses and slaughtered many of them, nearly eradicating the entire breed. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s interest in the breed gradually began to grow as Appaloosas began appearing in Western roundups and rodeos. By the late 1930’s the the flashy coat patterns caught the eye of the public, especially after an article written up in the Western Horseman entitled “ The Appaloosa, or Palouse Horse”. That revived a widespread interest in the breed.

Photo Credit- Cathy Childs

In 1938, a group of breeders revived the breed using some of the descendants of the original Nez Perce herd. The Appaloosa Horse Club was chartered in 1938. The Appaloosa horse became the official state horse of Idaho in 1975. The bill was signed by the Governor at that time, Cecil Andrus. This is a deserving honor for a horse that had been an integral part of Idaho’s history.

The Appaloosa is characterized by it’s spotted coat, of which there are six acceptable configurations. These are know as snowflake, leopard, frost, marble, spotted blanket or white blanket. The Appaloosa has mottled skin around the nose lips and often has white sclera

around the eyes. They generally have a sparse mane and tail, hooves tend to display black and white vertical stripes. Appaloosas have smallish heads with a straight profile. They have long , muscular necks that are set on a deep chest with sloping shoulders. Their withers are moderately pronounced, the quarters rounded and muscular, and the back short and com-


The Appaloosa is a an excellent riding horse, being both docile and quiet, but also energetic. They stand between 14 and 15.2 hands. They have good stamina and are naturally athletic. The excel in many disciplines including western pleasure, working cow horse, jumping, dressage and gaming. They are considered an excellent family horse with an easy -

going disposition.

Appaloosa Horse


Appaloosa Horse Club

2720 W. Pullman Rd

Moscow, ID 83843