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An Appaloosa is an American breed of horse developed from foreign breeds by the Nez Perce Native Americans in The Pacific Northwest. The earlier Appaloosas were solid-colored, but by the end of the 1880s, many had the spotted coat patterns that the breed is known for today. There are six main recognized spotted patterns for the Appaloosa breed. These include Blanket, Leopard, Few Spot Leopard, Frost, Snow Flake and Varnish.
The Blanket Appaloosa pattern is a large patch of white mainly around the hips and rump and there are different types of Blanket patterns such as Snowcap Blanket and Spotted Blanket. The Leopard pattern is the most well-known Appaloosa spot pattern and it’s defined as spots of any color on a white background. The Few Spot Leopard pattern is the same as the Leopard pattern, but with only a few spots of color.
Appaloosas with a Frost pattern can be of any color, but have some white hairs mixed in that give the coat a frosted look. A Snowflake Appaloosa spot pattern is white dots on any color of background. The Varnish spot pattern is often found on the horse’s nose and knees and is also called the Varnish Roan as the main pattern color is roan.
The Appaloosa usually has striped hooves. The eye color may be any shade from blue, brown or hazel or each eye may be a different color. Although early Appaloosas had thin tails and manes, breeding for thick tails and manes became more common and desirable.
Show Appaloosas are often less muscled than the original breed and have bodies similar to Quarter Horses or Thoroughbreds. A type of Appaloosa called the Appaloosa Sport Horse is used in English riding and is thinner that the original Appaloosa and has longer legs.
The Appaloosa is the official state horse of Idaho. The Appaloosa Museum Foundation in Idaho began in 1975. The Foundation operates a free museum in Moscow, Idaho that relates to the history and use of the Appaloosa horse breed. The Appaloosa Museum has educational programs and an interactive children's section as well as a gift shop.