Palomino Horse Temperament and Personality

Palominos are more of a type than a breed, so the temperament of the horse is directed toward the actual breed instead of the color of the horse. If you owned a Thoroughbred that was a Palomino, then you’d have a high-spirited horse with hot-blooded tendencies. If you owned a Quarter Horse, then you’d have a horse that was fairly calm, trainable, and up for a trail ride or a short race.

In the past, owning a Palomino reflected how much wealth or status a family had. Virtually any breed can be a Palomino, including Arabians, Fox Trotters, Morgans, Pains, Saddlebreds, and Walking Horses.

What Makes a Palomino Such a Unique Color Breed?

One of the most unique trademarks of the Palomino color is that the lifestyle habits of the horse can actually change the shade of its coat color. If you feed a Palomino grains that have high protein levels, then you can cause shadows to begin to form within their coat. When a local water supply has high iron levels, then a red shade can begin to appear in the white color of the mane and tail.

You can even change the color of the coat with the shampoo that you use, especially if there are dyes in the product and you apply it to the mane or the tail.

Sometimes it is believed that changing the feed or the water source can alter the temperament of the horse, but this isn’t true for the most part. You can change the temperament of a Palomino if it isn’t receiving the proper levels of nutrition on a daily basis. Just like humans get angry and tired when they are hungry, you can see these personality traits in a Palomino horse under the same circumstances.

What Else Affects the Temperament of a Palomino Horse?

The breed of the horse will always be the main determinant in what the temperament of a Palomino horse will be. There are other factors, however, that can help to influence the final temperament of the horse.

Training, management, and social opportunities are the three primary sources of temperament influence outside of the breed.

Training a Palomino horse requires the same approach that would be used for the breed it happens to be. You would approach a Thoroughbred Palomino in a different way than you would a Fjord Palomino. This means the first step is to determine if the horse is coldblooded, warm-blooded, or hot-blooded.

Coldblooded Palominos are very cooperative, intelligent, and willing to work. They tend to be larger horses that are laid-back and gentle, enjoying a lazy trail ride just as much as a day working out in the fields. This temperament tends to be low maintenance, though there is a social aspect of this personality that needs to be met to bring out the best of this horse.

Warm-blooded Palominos tend to be a little more aggressive and have higher energy levels. They are expressive and may try to be dominant, but they are also very loyal to a trainer that they find to be competent. These Palominos tend to need higher levels of daily care because of their metabolism and energy needs, but are still generally a good all-around horse.

Hot-blooded Palominos tend to be either difficult or passionate, depending on who you talk to about this temperament. These horses come from racing stock, so speed and strength are the foundations of their temperament. They have a lighter body and a desire to finish first, so this makes them a bit high-strung at times. These Palominos tend to spook easily as well and don’t like sudden changes to their environment.

Do Palominos Demand a Lot from Their Handlers?

The demands of a Palomino are dependent upon the breed and the temperament from that breed. Hot-blooded Palominos from Arabian or Thoroughbred lines tend to demand a lot from their handlers because they tend to be overly aggressive in their training and racing. Without a strong hand at the controls, it is very common for these Palominos to unintentionally hurt themselves or others as they strive to succeed.

Hot-blooded Palominos tend to have sensitive and delicate legs which require careful handling. For the average owner, it can be a difficult challenge to meet.

Otherwise, Palominos tend to be fairly easy keepers, though some breeds can provide some unique challenges. Walkers have a unique gait that might require some specific care, while Quarter Horses might have some hot-blooded tendencies come forth during training or racing sessions.

This means how the horse is treated by humans will be just as influencing a factor in the final temperament of the horse as its genetics. 

What to Expect from a Palomino Horse

The expectations of a Palomino horse also go back to the breed of the horse itself. For the most part, these horses like to be kept active and have some social contact, but they also like to have periods of independence as well. They are generally healthy and active, with a certain sensitivity that can make it difficult for some beginners to handle the horse. 

There are also high levels of individuality that can be found within this color breed. That makes it even more difficult to put forth a specific temperament expectation for Palominos. Even stubborn horses can become willing horses under the guidance of a skilled handler. It all depends on who you are, who the horse is, and how those two personalities come together to form a relationship.

As with any horse, sudden temperament changes reflect a changing environment or a health concern. Owners will need to reference the health challenges of the breed or lineage of the horse to understand what may be occurring. Cuts, scrapes, and bruises that are left unattended can also lead to distress, which can temporarily change the temperament of the horse.

Coldblooded horses that are Palominos tend to be highly adaptable and can handle changes to their environment, but other breeds can find changes to be challenging. It can be helpful to use familiar items, such as a favorite stall toy, to help transition a Palomino into a new environment. If you need to travel with the horse, it can be helpful to include a stall mate on the journey so social contacts can be maintained.

There is no general Palomino horse temperament which can be offered. Because it is a color breed, the temperament depends on specific breed to which the horse belongs and other influential factors. Once this can be determined, you’ll be able to know what to expect from any individual horse.