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Pinto - Horse Breed & Info

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

The Pinto descends from the Spanish Horses exported to American in the sixteenth century and is a type of horse distinguished and identified by its coloration. The Pinto is found all over the world, but in American has breed status.


The history of the Pinto has earlier chapters than those in the New World. Horses are well represented throughout history in art, and even in prehistoric times ancient humans painted them on the walls of caves. A study of art reveals that all he horse colors and patterns commonly known today were also present in the past. Interestingly, these patterns do no seem to be geographically limited.

Primitive horses had this broken colorings as a defense against predators. The first horses, Eohippus, of 60 million years ago, probably had a similarly blotched coats.

The tobiano pattern was common among the wild horses of the Russian steppes, suggesting that this coloring existed in Europe prior to the arrival of Arabian horses. However, the Pinto patterns may also have arrived in Europe through some Arabian strains, as Pinto markings appear in ancient art throughout the Middle East also.

The common Pinto patterns came to this continent from Europe through Barb stock used by Spanish explorers. These Barbs were hardy horses from North Africa, imported to southern Europe and crossed with native stock.

The American Indian favored the Pinto for its unusual coloring and also because the blotched coat was a natural camouflage. Spots, stripes, barred legs or splashes of color on a dark or light background are nature’s own system of camouflage. The American Indians, like the ancient steppe horsemen of Asia with whom they had much in common, loved color and decoration. They painted their own bodies and did not hesitate to paint their horses, if Nature had been less than generous in the coloration. The Pinto became part of the Indian way of life.

The Pinto was also popular with those western cowboys who were not adverse to ornamentation in dress and equipment and therefore also favored the colorful Pinto, all of which set him apart from his more soberly mounted fellows.


The Pinto Horse Association in America recognized the Pinto as a breed in 1963 and also recognized four types of Pinto horses:

1) The Stock type
2) Hunters, predominantly Thoroughbred
3) Pleasure type
4) and Saddle type.
The association also has a similar classification for colored ponies.

Breeding is encouraged to remain with a specific type:

1) Stock type Pintos are described as being of predominantly Quarter Horse breeding and conformation.
2) In the Hunter type, the Pinto is of predominantly Thoroughbred breeding (or in the case of Pinto ponies, of the Connemara pony conformation).
3) In the Pleasure type, the hose is of predominantly Arabian or Morgan breeding
4). The Saddle type is of predominantly Saddlebred or Tennessee Walking Horse conformation, displaying high head carriage and animation.


The Pinto has two types of coloring Ovaro and Tobiano:

Ovaro is a recessive gene, once predominant in South American. The Ovaro has a basic solid coat with large, irregular splashes of white over it.

Tobiano is a dominate one, once more pronounced in North America. The Tobiano has a white base coat with large irregular patches of a solid color.

Many people confuse Pintos with Paints. American Paint Horse registry is limited to animals exclusively from Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred, or Paint bloodlines. It has nothing to do with the color or pattern, only bloodlines. Most Paints can be double registered as Pintos, as either Stock, Hunter or Saddle type.

No Pinto horse ever qualifies as a Paint, since Pintos may come from a wide range of bloodlines.

The temperament and conformation of the Pinto depends on the bloodlines from which it came, as well as training of course. The Pinto is popular all over the world and there are no lack of shows or classes in which to exhibit as well as various riding or competitive disciplines.

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