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22 March 2019   
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American Breeds of Horse

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Originating in the Palouse Valley in Idaho, America, this characteristically all-over spotted horse was bred by the Nez Perce Indian tribe in the 1800s, who were said to be the first tribe to practice the selective breeding of horses. The Appaloosa is descended from stock imported to America by the Spanish Conquistadors during the sixteenth century.

Not all spotted horse are Appaloosa and certain characteristics are necessary to be recognised for registration; The mottled pink and black skin, particularly around the muzzle and genitals; the distinctive white sclera around the eyes; one of the recognised coat patterns - the five main ones are; 1) blanket spotted - a black or white rump on which there are spots of any colour; 2) leopard spotted - spots of any colour or a mixture of colours, e.g. black and chestnut on a light or white background; 3) snowflake - white on any colour except grey; 4) frost - white on a dark background; 5) marble - an all-over mottle. There are other characteristic of the Appaloosa e.g. striped feet and sparse main and tail, but they are not required for registration.

The height is usually between 14.2 and 15.2h.h. it is a compact horse with powerful hindquarters; the head varies but is usually attractive; the neck is well shaped; the back is short and strong; the limbs are strong; the feet are good and very hard.

These horses became scarce after the defeat of the Indians by the US army in the late nineteenth century. Many were slaughtered and the breed went into decline. In 1920 efforts were made to re-establish the breed from the few surviving horses. The Appaloosa Horse Club was founded 1938 in Oregon, USA, their objectives have been to collect historical records and to improve and standardised the breed by the set up of a register. There is also a very active Appaloosa Society in Great Britain.

The efforts to re-establish the breed have been extremely successful and the popularity of the Appaloosa has grown. Though it is associated mainly with the USA where it is used for all types of Western Riding, the breed is now well known in many other countries. It is a very versatile riding horse with great powers of endurance and an ability to jump, it is often seen in the show ring as a good all-round competition horse and in show and hunter classes.

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