American Paint Horse

The American paint horse was developed in the United States using the American quarter horse and the thoroughbred, producing a desirable horse that greatly resembles the quarter horse and has pinto markings. After the creation of the American Quarter Horse Association, which focused on solid colors, in 1940, breeders wanted to preserve the more colorful horses produced from quarter horses. As a result, many organizations were founded that would later merge to become the American Paint Horse Association. This organization considers the paint horse to be a distinct breed, instead of a color variation of another breed.

The American Pain Horse Association places strict requirements on people that wish to register their horses, placing just as much significance on bloodlines and color. At least one parent must be registered with the APHA and both parents must be registered with the American Quarter Horse Association, the Jockey Club for thoroughbreds, or the APHA. Horses can be registered as solid colored or paint colored depending upon certain criteria. Paint colored horses must have at least one area of white that contrasts from the main coat color and meets certain size requirements, as well as some un-pigmented skin. If a paint horse has a coat that is mainly white, it must have at least one area of contrasting hair that meets a certain size requirement and some pigmented skin. The paint markings must be at least two inches and cover specific areas of the horse. Solid colored paint horses must have two registered paint colored parents to be registered as Solid Paint-Breds or Breeding Stock Paints. These horses can be used in competitions and can produce spotted horses if bred with a registered paint colored individuals.

The most common color patterns of the paint horse include white with bay, black, brown, and chestnut while less common colors include roan, palomino, cremello, and champagne, among many others. Color patterns can come in many sizes, excluding the leopard complex patterning. The markings can also appear in any shape and are classified into four categories known as solid, overo, tovero, and tobiano. Although pinto horses are marked differently than paint horses, some horses with pinto markings can be registered as paint horses, depending upon their bloodlines.

The American paint horse is subject to lethal white syndrome, also known as Overo Lethal White Syndrome or White Foal Syndrome, due to its link to the recessive gene in the frame overo pattern. Heterozygous parents do not display symptoms of this disease, but foals born from carrier parents are born with an underdeveloped digestive system and should be humanely euthanized shortly after birth. A genetic test can be conducted on parent horses and those that have the carrier gene should not be permitted to breed. The quarter horse bloodline within the paint horse can cause it to develop other genetic disorders including Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis, Equine polysaccharide storage myopathy, and Malignant hyperthermia while its thoroughbred bloodline can increase the risk of foals having Wobbler’s syndrome.

Image Caption: American Paint Horse. Credit: José Reynaldo da Fonseca/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)