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The American Paint Horse

The American Paint Horse has a history unlike any other breed in the world. Once disregarded by some for its bold markings, that very characteristic makes each Paint Horse a one-of-a-kind favourite with thousands of proud APHA members today. In fact, the American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest equine breed association. The American Paint Horse’s combination of colour and stock horse conformation is not the breed’s only noteworthy attributes—Paints are also valued for their temperaments, versatility and athletic ability.

While the colourful coat pattern is essential to the identity of the breed, American Paint Horses have strict bloodline requirements and a distinctive stock-horse body type. To be eligible for registry, a Paint’s sire and dam must be registered with the American Paint Horse Association, the American Quarter Horse Association, or the Jockey Club (Thoroughbreds). To be eligible for the Regular Registry, the horse must also exhibit a minimum amount of white hair over unpigmented skin.

Each Paint Horse has a particular combination of white and any color of the equine spectrum: black, bay, brown, roan, buckskin, dun, gray, grullo, perlino, smoky cream, chestnut, cremello, palomino, red dun, sorrel, or champagne. Markings can be any shape or size, and located virtually anywhere on the Paint’s body. Paints’ coat patterns are also varied—Paint Horses are either overo, tobiano, tovero or solid. These colors, markings and patterns, combined with stock-type conformation, athletic ability and agreeable disposition, make the American Paint Horse an investment in quality.

The American Paint Horse Association was founded in 1962. With only a few hundred horses registered by the end of that year, the association now boasts more than one million Paint Horses and records new registrations at the rate of about 15,000 per year.

Coat Patterns and Colours


The dark color usually covers one or both flanks.
Generally, all four legs are white, at least below the hocks and knees.
Generally, the spots are regular and distinct as ovals or round patterns that extend down over the neck and chest, giving the appearance of a shield.
Head markings are like those of a solid-colored horse–solid, or with a blaze, strip, star or snip.
A tobiano may be either predominantly dark or white.
The tail is often two colors


The white usually will not cross the back of the horse between its withers and its tail.
Generally, at least one and often all four legs are dark.
Generally, the white is irregular, and is rather scattered or splashy.
Head markings are distinctive, often bald-faced, apron-faced or bonnet-faced.
An overo may be either predominantly dark or white.
The tail is usually one color.


(pronounced: tow vair’ oh)
Dark pigmentation around the ears, which may expand to cover the forehead and/or eyes.
One or both eyes blue.
Dark pigmentation around the mouth, which may extend up the sides of the face and form spots.
Chest spot(s) in varying sizes. These may also extend up the neck.
Flank spot(s) ranging in size. These are often accompanied by smaller spots that extend forward across the barrel, and up over the loin.
Spots, varying in size, at the base of the tail.

Solid Paint Bred

A horse of a solid colour Bay/Black/Sorrell etc.
A good horse is a good horse, regardless of its colour. And while colour can be a major asset, a lack of colour does not limit your opportunity for success with the UKPHA/APHA. Not all foals will have flashy colour patterns, but programs are open to all APHA-registered horses.

If you have a Paint Horse you can do anything…

The Paint Horse is a very versatile breed, you can ride and compete in both English and Western disciplines

Coat Colours

Click here to go to the APHA website on coat colours