17 Cool American Paint Horse Facts

The American Paint Horse is one of the most visually distinctive breeds in the world today. They have long been a favorite mount for those living in the US West, yet they also make for a great family horse. They are well-muscled and stand with a distinctive profile, but they also have a willingness that is rare for horses.

They are intelligent and versatile, making them suitable for competitions, farm life, or riding down a trail. Here are some interest horse facts about this breed so you can get to know it a little bit better. 

#1. The American Paint Horse is one of the youngest recognized horse breeds. 

The American Paint Horse Association [APHA] was founded in 1962 to support this western stock horse breed. Because of its signature color pattern, combining common horse colors like bay, black, and brown with white spotting that can occur anywhere on the body, they are one of the fastest growing breeds in the world today.

#2. American Paint Horses are closely related to Pintos. 

Pintos and Paints are very similar in color. They can even be sometimes difficult to distinguish from one another. The difference between the two comes down to the bloodlines. American Paints are descendants of Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, if not directly from a registered Paint. 

There is still some confusion between the two breeds because historically Pintos and Paints were originally thought to be of the same breed. Piebalds and Skewbalds are also common names used in the past for these horses that are not completely accurate. 

#3. The history of the American Paint may go back 500+ years. 

It is believed that the modern American Paint Horses came about from a joining of bloodlines from the Colonial Europe horses brought over during exploration and the wild horses that ran in herds all over North America. These horses were then captured by tribal populations, most notably the Comanche tribes, and then trained in the ways of daily life. 

Eventually they were used to forge settlements as population centers moved toward the West Coast and they were found to be quite useful for work on cattle ranches. 

#4. There are no height requirements listed as a breed standard. 

An American Paint does not need to meet a height requirement for registration with the American Paint Horse Association. The average Paint will generally stand between 14-16 hands high, though some may be slightly larger or smaller than this.

#5. The American Paint Horse Association is the second-largest breed registration in the world today. 

At the time these facts were gathered, there were more than 1 million American Paint Horses registered with the APHA. There are about 15,000 new horses begin registered every year from global counts.

#6. Every American Paint Horse is unique. 

The colorization of an American Paint Horse is like a fingerprint. Every Paint horse has its own markings that are completely unique. No two horses can be exactly alike.

#7. Paints actually qualify to be Pintos under current definitions. 

To add confusion to the breed, the American Paint Horse actually qualifies to be a Pinto. This is because the standard for a Pinto is any breed of horse that has spotting in its coat. This means that every Paint is actually also a Pinto, but not every Pinto can actually be a Paint.

#8. Mostly white Paints actually carry a different color or spotting gene. 

In general terms, a Paint horse is actually considered to be a colored horse that has white spots. This is true even if the horse is mostly white and appears to have brown, black, or bay spots instead. Paints are known to carry more than one spotting or color gene, which is why there is so much variation in coat patterns within the breed.

#9. It is genetically possible to have an all-white American Paint. 

Although it is incredibly rare, it is possible for an American Paint to have a dominate white color gene that matches a white spotting gene. These horses would appear to be all white because the color of the spotting would match their primary coat color. They are not albinos, as they have dark eyes and pink skin.

#10. There are two predominate coat patterns in Paint Horses. 

The two patterns are referred to as tobiano and overo. These have to do with the positioning of the white colorization that is on the body of the horse. Overo Paints have white spotting that extends across the back, between the withers and the tail. All four legs are usually dark, but there will usually be scattered markings across the body.

Tobiano horses have a head that is solid-colored, though there is a white spot at front that can be in several different shapes. They have white legs, or at minimum, white stockings. The spots on the remainder of the body of the horse then stand out in sharp contrast to the colored areas. Most markings tend to be on the chest or the neck. Some horses with this patterning of little white, so it can appear that they are not spotted at all.

#11. There is a third coat pattern that is accepted for the American Paint. 

The third accepted coat pattern for Paints is a combination of tobiano and overo. The name of this pattern is tovero and breeding for this pattern is considered to be an acceptable way to strengthen the bloodlines of the Paint. Horses with this patterning have additional splash markings in addition to marking attributes from the other two coat combinations.

#12. American Paint Horses have a specific genetic issue. 

The primary health issue that is associated with the American Paint Horse is that it has a genetic issue which causes it to be more vulnerable to disease. Lethal White Syndrome is particularly a problem, as it opens the horse up to more illnesses or death as a foal. When there is a strong Thoroughbred bloodline with a Paint, it may also be prone to Wobbler’s Syndrome, which causes the vertebrae of the horse to be weaker than normal.

#13. The American Paint Horse is technically a breed because of its bloodline requirements. 

You might see online that some say Paints are not technically a horse breed because the focus is on their colorization – like with a Palomino, for example. This isn’t true and comes from the confusion with the Pinto. Because a Paint must have a specific bloodline in order to be registered as part of the breed, this makes it technically a breed. 

If a Paint does not have Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred, or American Paint lineage, it does not qualify as a Paint – but it would qualify as a Pinto. This is what generally leads to the confusion offered in the online American Paint Horse facts that are offered right now.

#14. American Paints have a natural herding instinct. 

One of the tasks of herding livestock involves a process that is known as “cutting.” This means you would need to remove one animal from its herd for some reason, like needing to check it to see if it has become injured. Paints instinctively know how to keep livestock from returning to their herd and is one of the reasons why they are so popular for ranch work. It’s also why the process of cutting is becoming a fairly popular equine sport as well.

#15. Solid American Paints are growing in population. 

The American Paint Horse Association has begun to recognize solid-colored horses as registered Paints. This occurs when an offspring of two American Paints is born with a solid color. There are certain restrictions in place that must be followed, but they can still participate in some of the recognized Paint breed shows that are offered each year. Solid-color Paints tend to come from a tovero and a tobiano, but any two Paints can produce a possible solid-colored horse.

#16. The American Paint is used in a variety of disciplines. 

The most common equestrian discipline used for the American Paint is for Western pleasuring riding. Reining and other Western events are also popular with this horse breed. You’ll also find Paints involved in English riding events, such as show jumping or hunt seat. Because of the rise of equine events that are suited to Paints, you’re also starting to see more of this breed involved in rodeo competitions as well.

#17. American Paints are reasonably affordable. 

The standard price range for an American Paint Horse is generally between $3,500-$7,000. Herding horses and those trained for ranch work tend to command the highest prices, as do show horses that have unusual spotting patterns for the breed. This makes them one of the more affordable horse breeds to own right now, which only adds to their overall popularity. 

These American Paint Horse facts show just how intelligent, versatile, and beautiful this breed happens to be. They train well and their unique personality makes them a wonderful addition to any stable. Once you meet one, you’re almost certain to love them just as millions of people already do.