The Appaloosa Horse
The Appaloosa is an average sized light horse with most
standing 14.2 to 15.2 hands at the withers and weighing about 1000 lbs.
modern Appaloosa continues to display the same qualities so highly
valued by the Nez Perce and the early frontiersmen -- versatility,
endurance and temperament.
The Appaloosa breed can
provide a colorful horse to meet any equine interest. As with most
light horse breeds, within the breed there are bloodlines or families
have become specialists. These bloodlines show a predisposition to
specifically desired physical traits and behaviors. For example, some
renowned for their speed in racing and gymkhana events; some display
exceptional cow sense for cutting and roping; others are jumpers or
For the recreational rider, the personable Appaloosa horse offers
of variety to meet any interest, taste and pocketbook.
Appaloosa breeders in Canada have strived to produce high
caliber stock. Canadian Appaloosas have been exported all over the
world. A number of Canadian breeders have successfully shown their
horses at the Canadian National Appaloosa Horse Show and at the World
Appaloosa Horse Show, earning various national and world titles.
Colour and Characteristics
The distinctive coat patterns of the Appaloosa horse make him
the most easily recognizable of all light horse breeds. The
stereotypical colored Appaloosa is a dark body with a spotted white
blanket over the loin and hips. Coat patterns vary from the "snowflake"
-- darker body with lighter speckling, to the "leopard" with a white
body and dark spots over the entire body. Appaloosa horses are easily
identified and no two are exactly alike. Appaloosas share three
characteristics: mottled or freckled skin, most noticeable around the
muzzle, eyes and genitalia; hooves have clearly defined vertical light
and dark stripes, a trait that gives them exceptionally durable hooves;
and eyes have a white sclera encircling the iris much like that of the
The Story of The Appaloosa Horse
The spotted horse, known today as the Appaloosa, existed long
before recorded history, and is perhaps one of the oldest recognizable
breeds. Horses with spotted coats were depicted on cave walls in France
dating about 18,000 B.C. and on statues and pottery in ancient China.
He was known as the Sacred Horse of Nisasea, the Heavenly Horse and Le
Tigre depending on which region of the Old World he was found. Prized
and selectively bred, by the 1600’s he had been developed
into a stylish breed with sleek conformation and brilliant coat
It is believed the spotted horse was imported to Mexico,
way north and by the early 1700’s, was acquired by the Nez
Perce Indians of the Northwest. The Nez Perce’s selective
breeding practices enabled them to develop their horses into superb
animals with intelligence, courage, speed and stamina. Their spotted
horse became known as “a Palouse horse” so called
because so many of them were seen along the Palouse River. It wasn't
long before they were called by the modern name, Appaloosa.
By the 1870’s, advancement of the white man into the secluded
northwest, changed life for the Nez Perce people. Forced to leave their
homelands for a reservation, Chief Joseph, his people and their horses
attempted to flee to Canada. For almost four months and covering 1100
miles of extreme terrain, the Nez Perce continued to elude General
Howard and the cavalry. In October of 1877, with his people weak from
cold and hunger, Chief Joseph surrendered, but not before White Bird
and some of the Nez Perce escaped to Canada with several Appaloosa
Stories had reached many people of how the spotted horses
aided the Nez
Perce in their flight and this created a demand for the Appaloosa. Many
were sold off to white men who bred them indiscriminately only to
produce the fancy coat patterns. Conformation and quality didn't matter
and the fine Appaloosa breed was nearly destroyed.
Efforts to revive the Appaloosa horse to its former greatness
undertaken in both the United States and Canada. Individual horses with
the desired characteristics were sought out and breeding programs
established that would enable the Appaloosa horse to make a comeback.
The Appaloosa Horse Club of Canada was formed in 1954 through the
efforts of James Wyatt, an Alberta rancher and Dr. Grant MacEwan. Today
the ApHCC is a strong organization that provides programs for all
Appaloosa enthusiasts and maintains the official registry for Appaloosa
horses in Canada as recognized under the Animal Pedigree Act.