Horse Breed Facts American Paint

A PINTO is not a PAINT, but a PAINT may be a PINTO.

People mistakenly use these terms interchangeably, but they are really quite different. Both terms do describe multi-colored horses with dark and light patterned coats. However, a PINTO is really classified by its coloring, while a PAINT is registered by bloodlines.

The Pinto Horse Association accepts horses based on appearance and color markings.


Paint horses are subject to stricter requirements for registry. According to the American Paint Horse Association (APHA), a horse may be registered as a paint if it has proven paint, quarterhorse, or thoroughbred parentage. Both sire and dam must hold registrations with the APHA, AQHA, or Jockey Club. One parent must be registered APHA.

In addition, a Paint horse must have a minimum amount of contrasting color areas. These must be documented photographically, showing white hair and unpigmented skin underneath.

Paint horses generally appear in combinations of white and a darker color: bay, black, buckskin, chestnut, dun, grey, grulla, liver chestnut, palomino, roan, or sorrel. Markings vary considerably with each individual horse.

Generally, markings are asymmetrical.


1) The overo paint often is more monochromatic, although he will have some bold markings. He may have a white face. At least half of his legs will likely be dark. His tail will probably be one color.

2) The tobiano paint usually has a solid dark head, although he may bear a star, strip, snip, or blaze. His legs may be white, and he may have a variety of unique body markings. His tail may be bi-colored.

3) The tovero is, essentially, a combination of the overo and tobiano.

Occasionally, a paint foal is born with solid markings. He may have white socks, and his face may have a blaze, stripe, or other unique coloring. However, if he bears no abdominal white markings, he may only be registered as a solid paint or breeding stock.


Paints are basically affectionate and eager to please. They are extremely trainable and athletic. Usually, they are muscled, stocky, and sturdy (like American Quarterhorses). Strong and hard-working, they tend to be friendly and gentle, making them excellent pleasure and family horses.

Traditionally, paint horses participated primarily in Western riding disciplines (roping, barrel racing, reining, Western pleasure, and more.) Today, it is not unusual to spot a paint in the dressage ring or even flying over fences in a hunter-jumper show. (Watch for my colt in a year or two!)

Annually, the APHA is the second-largest breed registry in the US.

American Paint Horse Association
Oklahoma State University Board of Regents.