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Beautiful Pintos And Paint Horses
Broken colored horses are associated in the popular imagination with the old American west. In particular, they are associated with Native Americans, with whom they were a popular choice, as the pattern of broken colors made the horses hard to see, either during a hunt or during war.
Broken colored horses - also known as pintos - continue to be popular today, both in the American west and around the world. However, even though "pinto" is the Spanish word for "paint", pinto horses are not quite the same thing as paint horses.
To be registered with the American Paint Horse Association (APHA), a horse must not only have the classic broken-colored coat, it must also have either the sire or the dam registered as an American Paint Horse and have Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred blood somewhere in its background, Quarter Horse for preference.
Thus, while all paint horses are pintos, not every pinto is a paint horse - for example, a chestnut-and-white Shetland pony, while it certainly fits the description of a pinto, is not a paint horse. The same is also true, for obvious reasons, for parti-colored donkeys and mules.
Appaloosa horses, while they were also developed by Native American tribes for a similar purpose, are not classified as pintos, even though an Appaloosa can do much of the work that a paint can. The Appaloosa spots and "blanket pattern" are unique to that breed alone. The same applies to other spotted breeds.
Those not familiar with the term "paint horse" or "pinto" may be uncertain as to what the terms actually mean and what all the fuss is about. In general, paint horses are bi-colored horses, having a coat that is a mixture of white patches and patches of another colour. This should not be confused with the color known as roan, where individual white hairs are interspersed with either chestnut (red roan) or black/grey (blue roan).
A horse with black and white patches is often referred to as a "piebald" and a horse with patches of white and another color is known as a "skewbald." The most common patch colors in skewbalds are brown and chestnut, but patches of palomino (gold) and buckskin are also possible.
Among paint horses, further distinctions are made, tobiano and overo being the main ones. A horse classified has a tobiano is predominantly dark on the belly and neck with the white markings being smaller, while an overo is the reverse. Paint horses are often bred for the beauty of their markings.
Why choose a paint horse? As they have Quarter Horse ancestry, paint horses can take on a number of working roles with ease. They make excellent mounts for stock work, combining beauty with practicality, and perform well on the rodeo circuit in cutting competitions and barrel racing.
Paint horses also make good trail horses or general hacks. They also do well in the show ring, their distinctive coats making them particularly eye-catching. And, of course, many are kept as companion animals by those who admire the beauty and history of the breed.
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