History & Info of the Appaloosa Horse


 Please scroll down for Coat Patterns and Characteristics of the Appaloosa


The Appaloosa Horse became legendary after Chief Joseph’s effort to evade confinement and lead his band of Nez Perce to freedom in Canada. He eluded and out ran the US Army for over 1, 400 miles of the roughest terrain in the United States. The army continually brought in fresh mounts of the finest horses available to them, yet they were a poor match for the great Nez Perce Horse. The Nez Perce and the Pacific Northwest environment had produced a horse that was unequalled in it’s ability to traverse rugged terrain and work under extreme hardship.

Eventually, the Nez Perce were unable to out run those who pursued them, and exhausted and starving, Chief Joseph chose to surrender just short of the Canadian border. The army, both afraid and impressed by the Nez Perce horse, attempted to destroy the animals by shooting them. Many died at their hands. Some escaped into Canada, and a few others were sold to local ranchers.

The Appaloosas that survived the massacre were destined to become the foundation for the Appaloosa breed in the Northwestern US and Southern Canada. The army destroyed as many stallions as possible and replaced them with draft-blood stallions. Some Nez Perce Indians both on and off the reservation were able to hide their stallions and breeding stock and continued to produce the pure Nez Perce horse, but on a small scale. The original Nez Perce horse that had once proudly displayed it’s refined heritage, had but a precious few horses left. The typical reservation Appaloosa become coarse, clumsy, drafty animal.

An Oregan rancher, Claude Thompson, learned of the plight of the Nez Perce horses in the early 1930’s. He was appalled by the efforts to eradicate the Nez Perce breed, which has come to be the APPALOOSA. The and other concerned ranchers founded the Appaloosa Horse Club whose goal was to protect, preserve and promote the Appaloosa breed. Since there were so few Appaloosa without strong draft influence, Thompson advocated a limited cross breeding between the draft type Appaloosa mare and refined Arabian and Thoroughbred stallions to build up the breeding stock. The crossbreeds were then bred back to the best Nez Perce type Appaloosa. This produced the first FOUNDATION APPALOOSA. Over the next years horses with exceptional characteristics were given an “F”, the Foundation designation, next to their registration number.

While Thompson advocated a limited out crossing to “refined” breeds to increase the breeding stock, The Appaloosa Horse Club has continued to permit virtually unlimited out crossing to other breeds., mostly the QUARTER HORSE. This has led to a general scarcity of “F” horses in the pedigree of the modern Appaloosa (which could be over 95% Quarter Horse). However, there is an increasing number of people who value the distinct and exceptional qualities of the early Appaloosa. These individuals selectively breed horses with high percentage of “F’ horses in their pedigree.

While the original Nez Perce horse may never be recreated, convergent breeding of it’s descendants can produce a good approximation. We think we could be remiss to discount the excellence of the Nez Perce breeding program. It was, after all, Nez Perce horses that Claude Thompson, George Hatley and other conscientious horsemen worked so hard to recover.

c Nez Perce Indian - Chief Joseph

Some Foundation Appaloosa's found in our Horses

kn Knobby tToby 1 tToby 11


Over and above the exotic coat pattern of the Appaloosa, there are 3 other characteristics of the breed namely: mottled/partly colored skin, striped hooves and white sclera. Here are some perfect examples of these characteristics on some of our own horses:

Mottled/Partly Coloured Skin

This appears around the muzzle and eyes of the Appaloosa, however, not ever Appaloosa will have this characteristic. More common is the partly coloured skin on the anus, vulva, sheath and udder areas:

a  a

Mottled Skin, on the muzzle and around the eyes - photos of Les Chevaux Simplicity.

p  p p

Partly Coloured Skin on udder, vulva and sheath - photos of Jaydee King's Ransom & Bluegum King's Ransom

Striped Hooves:

Most, but not all Appaloosa express this characteristic. The stripes are found running vertically down the hoof. Some Appaloosa can develop this characteristic as they age. Here is an example of Striped Hooves.


Another interesting trait is white hooves on black legs. Normally a horse would have a white hoof if it has sock/stockings:


White Sclera

White Sclera is found in most Appaloosa’s, even the part breds. Commonly know to other’s as a “wall eye”.



Appaloosa are generally known for the Exotic Coat Patterns, many people still believe that the Appaloosa is not a breed in it’s own right, but it is a Colour. Sadly, these people have been misled and some are even made to believe that if you buy a horse that is slightly roaned, or even has a spot or two on them, then it’s an Appaloosa. This is INCORRECT. The Appaloosa is a breed, for further info on this please read, the History of the Breed below. Also the internet is an endless source of information that will confirm this. I have broken the Appaloosa colouring into two different categories to make it easier for you to understand: Firstly, you have the base coat colour. This is the general colour of any horse. The base coat colour of the Appaloosa is predominately, as in most breeds either

Chestnut, Bay, Dark Bay and Black. Palomino, Dun and Buckskin are also found in the Breed, however, as the horse ages these colours normally dilute the coat pattern thus making it difficult to see the pattern clearly.

Grey, Albino and Pinto are not allowed to be used for breeding stock and the foals are not eligible for registration if one does use this colouring. These crosses normally lose their spots by the time they are three years of age, sometimes older.

Now that we have the base coat colour, we move onto the Appaloosa Coat Pattern. There are various coats patterns in the Appaloosa, starting from the smallest lace blanket through to a Fewspot Leopard, below are fine examples of most of the Appaloosa Coat patterns one can find:

Solid –  As the name suggests, there is no coat pattern, however, in some cases these Solid Appaloosa’s can roan as they age, so that they appear to be a totally different horse:



Lulus Bright Chief – Chestnut Lace Blanket

Spotted Blanket:


Lulus Wap’s Illusion – Bay, Spotted Blanket

Extended Spotted Blanket


Lulus Spirit – Bay, extended Spotted Blanket

White Blanket


Mountney’s Hepplewhite – Black, White Blanke

Extended White Blanket


Les Chevaux Chantilly – Black, extended White Blanke



Lulus Quicksilver – Black, Snowcap


Near Leopard


Kaloosa Triumph – Bay, Near Leopard



Lulus Cape Heritage – Dark Bay Leopard

Fewspot Leopard


Kiowa Santana – Chestnut Fewspot Leopard


The Appaloosa roan is very interesting as well as confusing for most that do not know the Appaloosa Breed. Most Appaloosa’s are born with a solid base colour, some start their roaning within a few days of birth, other’s start from as late as ten years old and some do not even roan out further, should they not have a roaning gene.

The Appaloosa roan starts from the quarters and works it’s way towards the head. The various roans, obviously have been named, such as the Varnish Roan and Marble Roan.

Below are some examples of the roan Appaloosa, with and without spots


Nightingales Diamante - Dark Bay Varnish Roan


Robberts Viola - Dark Bay, Varnish Roan, Spotted Blanket


Nightingales African Snow Queen - Bay, Varnish Roan, White Blanket

As we gather pictures of our horses which are prefect examples of a coat pattern, we’ll update, add and remove pictures. We are still searching for that Marble Roan…..

In the mean time, please visit the Appaloosa Horse Breeder’s Society of South Africa’s website, there are some really interesting photo’s of horses, a list of breeders in South Africa and surrounding countries as well as the Application Forms to become a member of the Society.