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Palomino - Horse Breed & Info

Characteristics of the Palomino Palomino Horse Article and Photos Copyrighted - see credits below

The Palomino coloring , it is claimed, dates back to Homeric times and was favored by the Yemen Kings.

The Golden Horse probably of Spanish descent first came to fame in the United States when the California territory was liberated from Mexico over a century ago.


Legend has it that the name palomino derives from the name of a Spanish Don, who received such a horse from Cortez. Another explanation is that the name derives from the name of a golden Spanish grape. One thing is certain, the golden color and fluid white manes and tails are irresistibly attractive.

Paintings of old-time California vaqueros show the golden horse’s popularity at that time. At any rate, horse lovers on the West Coast developed the strain for pure beauty and as a high-class saddle horse, ridden both as a beautiful show and parade horse and also as a racer.


The palomino breeders association will register horses of that color coming from a wide variety of breeds, including American Quarter Horses, American Paint Horses, Appaloosa Horses, Morgan Horses, Saddlebred Horses, Thoroughbreds, Tennessee Walking Horses, Missouri Fox Trotting Horses, Arabian Horses even Holsteiner horses, which are a German warmblood breed. All these are official outcross breeds.

Certain color characteristics will make a horse ineligible for registration, among them white spotting as in Paint Horses and Appaloosa horses, or graying, or roaning, and also dun markings. Mane and tail must consist of at least 85 percent white hairs, according to the specifications of the Palomino Horse Breeders of America (PHBA) association.

Ideally, the Palomino body color is like a United States gold coin. Palominos are found on cattle ranges, in harness, in the show ring (as three and five gaited and in stock horse classes), and on trails. The size must be between 14 and 17 hands for registration with that association, but the color is of course found in ponies as well.

The associations forbid the use of draft horse or pony blood, but the color can be found in ponies as well as draft horses.

The shows put on by the PHBA have climbed in status over the last years, especially their World Show. Besides the PHBA, there is another association for these horses, the Palomino Horse Association. Horses are often double-registered, with their breed association and with the PHA or PHBA.


To breed for this color, a breeder must know his genetics. The desired color is caused by the cream gene, the gene that is also responsible for the buckskin color. The palomino color results when a horse that would normally be born a sorrel or a chestnut inherits the cream gene as well. That gene then dilutes the basic body color to a golden tone.

The surest way to produce the color, and an attractive one to boot, is to mate a reddish chestnut and what is called a cremello, sometimes it is called an albino (although not a true albino, as those do not exist in the horse), an almost white horse with blue eyes which inherited two copies of the cream gene. As the cremello mate cannot help but pass on a cream gene, and the other parent will not, the outcome is inevitably a beautiful palomino color.

The mating of two horses which carry the creme gene (buckskins and smokeys count, as well as duns that may hide a cream gene) will often result in too light a color (a cremello), usually to the breeder’s dismay.

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

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