American Paint Horse

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
fast facts

About American Paint Horse

1,150 lbs
Strong and powerful
31 years
Best Suited For
Any horse lover and rider, including those who wish to enter competitions and those who want to have a relaxed and easy-to-train equine companion
Intelligent, willing, calm, easy to train and work with, friendly, social, level-headed
Comparable Breeds
Pinto Horse, American Quarter Horse
Top Breed
14.2-16 hands (58-64")
American Paint Horse Breed History

The American Paint Horse has a long and unique history. It is believed that Spotted Oriental horses were brought from Eurasia to Spain around 500 A.D., and they were bred with the native horses there. That breed continued to thrive in Spain, and it started to look like what is commonly known as the standard Paint Horse today. In fact, records that date all the way back to 700 A.D. reveal spotted horses that have overo and tobiano patterns, just like the modern American Paint Horse.

Experts believe that American Paint Horses are descendants of the horses that were first brought over to the New World by Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s, particularly Hernando Cortes. He brought a total of 16 war-horses, and one of them was actually a sorrel and white pinto. Historians have concluded that it was likely that particular horse that ended up creating the popular American Paint Horse breed that still exists today.

The American Paint Horse is one of the fastest growing horse breeds.

The horses who were descendants of that stallion eventually made their way across the country’s western plains and joined with the wild horse herds that were living in the western parts of America. There, the Native Americans began to revere these animals for their unique patterns, beauty, personality, and strength. They were even used by several Plains tribes, who grew quite fond of these unique, lovely, and friendly horses.

In 1962, the American Paint Horse Association was formed. Today, it is one of the fastest growing horse breed registries on the planet, as roughly 50,000 registrations are recorded every year. This is rather noteworthy, considering that the association started off with just a few hundred of these horses listed at the end of 1962. The registry now includes nearly 800,000 horses.

Breed Traits

American Paint Horses are known for being friendly and social creatures. They are also good-natured, calm, and innately intelligent, making them a true pleasure to work with and train, even for performance competitions. They make wonderful companions for any riders and caretakers who enjoy the company of horses.

What makes this breed so appealing is the fact that these horses are a perfect combination of athleticism and beauty. They are relaxed, easily handled and trained, and easy to keep as pets.

They also enjoy heading out onto open riding trails, as well as competing, and they have a high willingness to please their owners and riders. In fact, these horses are often used for a wide range of purposes, such as work, racing, general riding, jumping, dressage, and more, because they are multi-talented animals that can perform a variety of tasks with ease.

Overall Description

The American Paint Horse features distinct white markings that will vary in size, even though the patterns on these horses are standard. The two predominant patterns, in fact, are tobiano and overo, which are distinguished by the white coloring’s position on the animal’s body.

These horses are strong and fast, and they can maneuver very well, thanks to the fact that they are well balanced, with a muscular, broad chest, a low center of gravity, and powerful hindquarters.

In addition to the coat colors and patterns of the American Paint Horse, the breed also features unique leg and facial markings. These include dorsal stripe, flaxen, roan, zebra stripe, transverse stripe, blaze, bald face, strip, star, snip, star and snip, coronet, pastern, half-pastern, sock, ankle, stocking, half-stocking, and star, strip, and snip.

American Paint Horses are known for being friendly and social creatures.


The American Paint Horse breed features a variety of attractive coat patterns. In particular, you can find horses with pinto markings in tobiano, as well as in overo, and you can even find horses with tovero coat patterns.

In terms of colors, there is also a lot of variety within this unique breed, with horses showcasing beautiful shades of roan, gray, sorrel, grullo, palomino, buckskin, chestnut, dun, brown, black, and bay. In other words, these horses will have a combination of any equine color and white.

The American Paint Horse requires regular grooming to maintain its beauty and health.

Grooming Requirements

As with all other horse breeds, the American Paint Horse requires regular grooming to maintain its beauty and health. You will need to use standard horse grooming tools, such as a body finishing brush for sensitive areas like the legs and face, a curry comb to get rid of loose hair and dirt, and a dandy brush to further loosen hair, mud, and dirt from the horse’s coat. You will also need to utilize a mane comb for use specifically on the mane, a shedding blade to loosen hair from the coat, a tail brush for the tail, and a hoof pick in order to effectively remove debris, such as rocks, from the horse’s hooves.

Photo credit: DEW/Bigstock; ldeitman/Bigstock; outdoorsman/Bigstock

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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