icon points to HSC on Google Plus icon points to HSC on Twitter icon points to HSC on Facebook icon points to HSC on LinkedIn
image points to horse-magazine business website
HorseShowCentral > Horse Breeds > American Paint Horse

American Paint - Horse Breed & Info

Characteristics of the American Paint horse American Paint Horse Article and Photos Copyrighted - see credits below

Spotted horses have been called pinto, paint, skewbald and piebald. Only the registered American Paint horse preserves the delight of color with stock horse conformation and pedigree.

Cortez brought a few spotted horses with him when he entered North America and It is also common knowledge that the horses left behind by the Spaniards became the bloodstock for many American breeds.

As herds of wild horses ranged the early West, spotted horses appealed to humans. Indians particularly prized these horses, some white settlers as well. That the Comanche Indians loved them is evidenced by the many painted ponies on their buffalo robes.


The American Paint Horse Association (APHA) came into being when Quarter Horse breeders grew tired of the fact that some of their best foals were not eligible for registration with AQHA because they had more white on them than what AQHA allowed. Originally, extensive white markings, even loud colored Paints, had been part of Quarter Horse history as far back as one can search, but with the founding of AQHA came a rule that discriminated against too much white. Just why, nobody knows anymore. The American Quarter Racing Association, which later fused with AQHA, had registered Paint Racing Quarter Runners as well as solid-colored ones, and some of their all-time top horses were Paints.

In 1962, for the above-mentioned reason, the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) was founded, first under the name of American Paint Stock Horse Association. Some early members were just interested in a place to register their spotted Quarter Horses, others had a strong affinity for the attractive Paint Horses. From modest beginnings, the APHA rapidly grew into the fastest-growing breed association in America, by-passing registries that had had a considerable head start on APHA. Today, Paint Horses are the third-largest breed in America. There are Paint Horse shows all across the country and an annual World Championship Show.


American Paint horses can be of any basic coat color, but they must also combine this with white markings, or a white marking of mandatory size, any place on the body, or in a prescribed area. In predominantly white horses, there must be a contrasting color of sufficient size somewhere in that area.

The spotting in Paint Horses as in all spotted horses comes in different patterns, which are inherited differently, too: tobiano (which is a dominant gene and always expressed 100 per cent), and overo, which today is also considered dominant, but can be expressed incompletely, that is, suppressed by other genes. Within the overo inheritance, several patterns are distinguished: frame overo, several sabino expressions, and splashed white.


Solid-colored Paint-bred horses are registered in a separate book by APHA, formerly called Breeding Stock Registry, now called solid-colored Paint-bred. Offspring or produce of such solids are fully eligible for regular registration provided they meet the color requirements. Breeding-wise, solids have the same status as regular-registered Paint Horses.

Recently the Quarter Horse has come full circle, so to speak, because AQHA now does register American Paint Horses if they have two AQHA-registered parents. Those crop-outs, as they are called, have made up a certain percentage of registrations over the decades, but have considerably contributed to the improvement in quality of the Paint Horse, as have AQHA-registered Quarter Horses. This has led to amendments on the part of APHA, which now accepts for registration only horses with at least one APHA-registered parent. The other parent may be AQHA- or Jockey Club-registered (Thoroughbred).


American Paint Horses do not comprise just a color breed, but are based on bloodline integrity. The bloodlines are those of the Quarter Horse. Like in the Quarter Horse, Thoroughbreds are accepted as an outcross breed, so they also are accepted in the APHA, albeit in a different mode.

Conformation-wise, American Paint Horses are no different than their cousin, the Quarter Horse. The same criteria apply, and abilities are the same. The ideal Paint Horse has always been a Quarter Horse with plenty of white markings.

There have been a few outstanding bloodlines in the Paint Horse breed that were not founded by registered Quarter Horses, although their Quarter Horse ancestry was obvious, but most of today’s Paint Horses have a pedigree that goes back to AQHA horses, or T.B. horses, in all lines.

Today American Paint Horses are found in backyards, trails, competition, jumping and on the race track. Paint Horses have won the top events in many fields, including World Championships, in NCHA, NRHA, and NRCHA.

Article copyright HorseShowCentral.com. Submitted by Hardy Oelke. Reproduction of any portion of this copyrighted website without written permission of the publisher is prohibited and subject to legal action.

Photo at top of page and the photos below copyright and courtesy of the American Paint Horse Association

American Paint Horses Horse Racing Paint Horses and Kids

American Paints - Family Horses

Other HSC pages that offer information about the American Paint: horses, breeding, industry supplies, shows, event calendar, etc.

Shopping - Business Products Services

Search this site for Horse Shows - Events
Search this site for Stallions at Stud
Search this site for Stables/Farms/Ranches
Search this site for Horse Associations - Clubs

You may also wish to read the following related of Horse Sports in which the American Paint Horses are often involved:

Western Style Riding
Cow Horse
Western Horsemanship / Western Equitation
Western Pleasure
Western Riding
Western Trail Class
Cutting Horse
Reined Cow Horse / Working Cowhorse
Ranch Horse Competition
Team Roping
Team Penning
Barrel Racing
Pole Bending
Halter Horses
Showmanship at Halter

Breeds, styles and disciplines of showing, plus shows and services, stables, stallions at stud, rescue and associations & outstanding advertising are all easily found on HorseShowCentral!

Return to Horse Breeds