Paint Horses

The American Paint horse is widely recognized by its bright colors, racing across the big screen in old western movies. Paints are iconic to the American west, as witnessed by their appearance in film, writing, and art. Paints are typically stock-type horses with patterns of dark and light spots on their bodies, though there are solid horses that can be classified as paints, and some horses, particularly grays, may lose their markings as they age.

Paints are very closely related to the American Quarter Horse, and, as some solid Paint Horses can be bred to Quarter Horses and be registered, so can some Quarter Horses be accepted to parent Paint horses. Another acceptable out-cross is the American Thoroughbred.

Paints and Pintos are not the same thing. Paints are a breed of horse- a classification of animals with characteristics that can be bred into them, that conform to certain guidelines. ‘Pinto’, however, is a reference to color and is usually in connotation with a horse of mixed or impure bloodlines of a ‘broken’ color, ‘broken’ referring to the opposite of ‘solid’.

American Paint horses must have a stock body type, have Paint coloring, or at least one Paint parent. Acceptable crosses for the registry include Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds, with acceptable characteristics. Horses used for out-crossing have to be approved by the registry as having desirable traits for contributing to the stock-type horse. The guidelines for acceptance into the American Paint Horse Association are very strict.

Paint horse coloring can be described as Solid, where a horse has no markings, though it must be of Paint parentage, to Tobiano, Sabino, Overo, Tovero. Tobiano, Overo, and Tovero, describe various spotting patterns over the horse’s body. Sabinos consist of a spotting pattern that is often confused with that of the Appaloosa, another stock horse type. ‘Color’ and ‘Chrome’ are terms that can often be used in reference to Paint horses and, refer, simply, to the presence of spots and the flashiness of a particular horse.

American Paint horses separated from other stock types in 1965, when the American Paint Association was founded. Before then they were lumped together with other ‘stock types’, which were a mix of early Quarter horses and thoroughbreds.

Some Paint horses contain a genetic trait of a ‘lethal white’ gene- a color-linked gene that results in stillborn, miscarried, and 100% mortality in foals. Paint horses can be blood tested to check whether or not they carry this trait.

Paint Horses average around 15 hands, or sixty inches at the shoulder. They are of solid build, with a tendency towards small feet, and an apple-shaped rump. Base colors can range from gray to palomino, as well as sorrel, bay, black, buckskin, and other variations of Quarter Horse coloring. Paint Horses should carry their necks straight out from their withers and have a tendency to be short-coupled.