The American Paint Horse was developed in North America in the 1500s after Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes brought horses sporting paint coat patterns to the New World. Ancestors of these horses ended up roaming the western plains, and became coveted favourites of the American Indians because of their flashy coats and endurance.

American Paint Stock Horse Association (APSHA) was formed in 1962 to preserve the colour and stock-type conformation of these horses; in 1965 the APSHA merged with the American Paint Quarter Horse Association to form the American Paint Horse Association, which is currently one of the largest breed registries in North America, registering about 30,000 horses per year.

American Paint Horse. Bob Langrish photo


The American Paint Horse combines Quarter Horse-type conformation and size with a pinto coat colour pattern of white and dark. Common coat colours are black, bay, brown, and chestnut or sorrel with white spots or patches; occasionally palomino, buckskin, cremello, perlino, pearl, champagne, roan, grey, or dun are seen. The patterns are defined as:

Overo – predominantly dark or white with solid colour over the back, legs are dark with regular stockings. The face is mainly white (bald-faced, apron-faced or bonnet-faced). The tail and mane are usually a solid colour. Three main overo patterns are sabino, frame, and splashed white.

Tobiano – dark and white coat pattern, with solid dark over one or both flanks, white legs below the hocks and knees (or higher), head dark with regular facial patterns such as star, blaze, or strip. The markings are smooth and round or oval-shaped. Tail or mane may be bi-coloured.

Sabino – almost all one color, but with some white patches with irregular edges. The legs are white and the face has extensive white markings. Patches are of varying sizes, from large areas of the body to small flecks.

Tovero – mainly white, while the upper head area is a dark color. One or both eyes may be blue; chest and flanks dark-coloured, sometimes neck. Dark pigmentation around the ears and mouth, which may expand to forehead and/or eyes. Spots on flanks ranging in size, often accompanied by smaller spots that extend across the barrel and over the loin.

A registered Paint horse should possess the same stock horse-type body seen in Quarter Horses, being muscular but not too heavy or too tall, with powerful hindquarters.

*Note: The terms “paint” and “pinto” are sometimes confused. A pinto may generally be of any breed or combination of breeds; an American Paint Horse must have registered American Quarter Horse, American Paint Horse, or Thoroughbred parents. Hence Paint horses can be registered as pintos, but not all pintos can be registered as Paints.


Due to the horse’s agility, stamina, and temperament, Paints make reliable ranch horses and are also used in rodeos, Western shows, reining, barrel racing, trail riding, and English riding on the flat and over fences.

For more info, visit:
American Paint Horse Association

American Paint Horse. Bob Langrish photo