The Palomino horse can stand at up to 17 hands. These majestic horses have a white mane and tail, with eyes that are typically hazel, black, or brown. Their coloration can range from a light tan color to an almost dark brown. Determining if a horse qualifies as a Palomino often involves evaluating these key physical characteristics. There can only be a 15% variation in the gold/tan coloring for the horse for it to be able to qualify.
That's just the beginning of what it means to be a Palomino. Here are some more interesting facts about this horse that you're going to want to know.
#1. A Palomino is not a horse breed. A Palomino is determined by their colorization. Any horse breed can produce a Palomino. They can even be registered to that breed's registry with their colorization. To be registered as a Palomino, however, they can only have white coloring on their face or below the knee. Otherwise the Palomino Horse Breeders of America requires the horse to be registered as their breed only.
#2. Two horse genes help to create a Palomino. The colorization of a Palomino comes from two genes – one of chestnut coloring and the other from a cream/white coloring. This means even two Palomino parents only have a 50% chance of having a foal that is also a Palomino. There's also a 1 in 4 chance of having chestnut coloring or cream/white coloring – known as a “cremello.”
#3. Palominos have a unique personality. The Palomino is a horse that is incredibly curious and very alert. They are often easy to train and many can be taught to do tricks. They respond to the emotion that they receive from their owners. This means if a Palomino is given love and affection, then it will offer that in return. If a Palomino feels like it is being hurt in some way, then there's a good chance that the horse will attempt to bite.
#4. Quarter horses make up about 50% of all registered Palominos. Various breeds of horses may qualify as being a Palomino, but Quarter horses make up the vast majority of those that are registered. Other common breeds which have Palominos included American Saddle Horses, Arabians, Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, and Tennessee Walking Horses.
#5. Chocolate Palominos aren't really a true Palomino. You'll hear some folks refer to their horses as “Chocolate Palominos” or “Cream Palominos,” especially when they have a foal that is produced from two Palomino parents. Unfortunately this terminology may be commonly used, but inaccurate, when it comes to the definition of this colorization. The main coat of the horse must have the gold/tan coloring, though many will turn a whiter color during the colder months of the year.
#6. Palomino horses are named after a Spanish royal family. The desire to have horses with the Palomino coloring dates back over 600 years. Named after a royal family in Spain, Cortez is believed to be the first to bring Palominos from Europe to the New World in 1519. It is believed that Mustangs which have Palomino coloring come from the initial introduction of this colorization to North, Central, and South America from escaped horses from that initial expedition.
#7. The introduction of Palominos changed Native American culture. Because Europe wanted more Palominos, they encouraged the horses to spread throughout the New World so that there would be more availability of this colorization. This created a surge in local horse populations, which saw Native American culture begin to adapt to the added population by trapping and taming wild horses. This allowed tribes to hunt more effectively, travel more quickly between encampments or while tracking buffalo herds, and even being able to move so that harsh weather changes could be avoided. The horses were even used effectively in times of war.
#8. In some languages, Palomino literally translates to “divine.” In Latin, the word “Palomino” is literally translated as “dove-ine.” This is a reference to a certain color, but it is also one of the ways that English gets the word “divine.” It's easy to see why this horse colorization was given this name when you see the white tail and mane contrast with the colorization of the body.
#9. The first Palomino that was officially registered was named El Rey de los Reyes. This occurred in 1935 in the state of California. Owner Dick Halliday had a stallion which he felt was a perfect example of this colorization and he'd been researching the “color breed” for many years Halliday was even working as a freelance writer, submitting articles about Palominos, so that the general public had more awareness of this unique color.
#10. The Palomino horse is considered to be a multi-purpose horse. The Palomino is a horse with speed, but it also has endurance and maneuverability. You'll find them working in many modern applications, including ranching, rodeo competitions, and even racing. In the past, there are stories of soldiers during the Crusades seeking out the Palomino horse to give them an advantage on the battlefield. This is why some feel that the Palomino does an excellent job in dressage functions.
#11. Mr. Ed was a Palomino. There have been a few famous horses in the past that have made a mark on Hollywood, including Trigger and Trigger Junior, but none may be more famous than Mr. Ed. The horse's real name was Bamboo Harvester and in the show, he was credited as appearing as “himself.” What is unique about this television show is that it is only one of a handful in history that started in syndication before being picked up by a major network. Bamboo Harvester had a stunt double in the show named Pumpkin, who was also his stablemate. Pumpkin would appear in Green Acres.
#12. Registering a Palomino is one of the most affordable registrations that exists today. The fee for registering a horse is $45.00. The yearly membership fee is $30.00. There is also a lifetime membership option available for $250. In return, all members receive a quarterly newsletter where much of the input comes from the membership rolls. The Palomino Horse Association is really more of a family-run business, having been in the Rebuck family since 1992. Before the Rebuck family was in charge, the Dallmeyer family maintained the Palomino Horse Association for 20 years. The headquarters of the organization tends to shift to the home location of each family running it.
#13. If you own a Golden Dorado horse, then you actually own a Palomino. In the days when the Spanish were primarily responsible for breeding these golden horses, they were referred to as “El Dorado” or “Golden Dorado” by name. The Spanish even had specific breeding strategies in place to help maintain the golden colors of their horses. In the minds of many, this qualifies the horse as a specific breed, just like any other strain of horse, even though color is the primary factor in determining the status of a horse. It could be argued that the Golden Dorado is the one true breed of the Palomino and the others are simply colorization preferences.
#14. In some cultures, only members of the royal family were allowed to ride Palomino horses. This is especially true for Queen Isabella, who is believed to be responsible for starting the modern Palomino movement. She loved these golden horses so much, it is said, that she owned 100 of them and kept them at her residence. Commoners were not allowed to own one. Only members of the royal household and favorite nobles were even allowed to ride them.
#15. The full history of the Palomino horse has never been recorded. Horse experts believe that the Palomino horse originally descended from the Arabs and the Moors. There are also several examples of ancient Japanese and Chinese artwork which show people riding and caring for Palominos. This has created a horse which is strong in both myth and legend because there are no actual recorded facts about this breed until around the 15th century. It is entirely possible that this horse colorization has been around since the initial evolution of the modern horse, dating back more than 2,000 years.
#16. There are no breed-specific health issues that are associated with the Palomino horse. As a color breed, the Palomino horse is generally considered to be a healthy. There are no health issues that are known to be associated with this colorization, although some specific breeds of Palominos may face breed-specific issues. For the most part, this means owners simply need regularly veterinary checkups and the ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle for their horse to keep it healthy.
The facts about Palomino horses are that they are strong, sturdy, and beautiful horses that have the ability to be quite versatile.