The term appaloosa may refer to two separate things:

  1. The appaloosa horse, an American breed related to the American quarter horse and paint horse. It is best known for its spotted pattern, commonly called appaloosa. As a breed, these horses were originally developed by the Nez Perce people in the United States and possibly named after the Palouse River in their territory. Today, the breed is among the most popular in North America. While most horses in this breed are appaloosa spotted, not all are, as the breed is not based upon the pattern alone.
  2. The white spotting pattern commonly referred to as 'appaloosa', which originates with the leopard complex and may be altered by up to several pattern genes at the same time. Though the pattern shares the name's origin with the appaloosa breed, the pattern is not limited to the breed, but spreads among many separate populations. Cave paintings and artwork suggest the pattern has been in existence for a very long time, long before the Nez Perce breed was developed. And even in modern times, it is present in many different breeds, including the noriker, the knabstrupper, miniature horses and the aforementioned American breed with the same name.

Colour description

The appaloosa white pattern is famous for the many colored spots placed on a seemingly white background. The spots can be any size, ranging from a few white hairs, to spots almost the size of a human fist. They can appear only on the horse's rear quarters, or on the entire horse and everything in between. In addition, appaloosa's can also be without spots, but with a varnish roan pattern of white hairs, ranging from a few to a nearly white horse. This pattern is progressive, meaning many horses obtain more white hairs as they age.

While no two horses with appaloosa are the same, all with the white pattern share a few characteristics.

  • White sclera
  • Mottled skin
  • Striped hooves

These shared signs of appaloosa are caused by the most important gene, leopard complex. This gene alone only creates a varnish roan with the above mentioned characteristics, but when combined with one or more pattern genes, it forms the basis for the striking appaloosa patterns also known as leopard and blanket. While these pattern genes are responsible for the many looks of the pattern, none can visually alter a horse without the leopard complex gene, which is the reason all appaloosa patterned horses share the above mentioned three characteristics.

Describe some of the patterns. Explain it is actually a white blanket with holes for spots. Also add colour shifting.

Leopard, near leopard, fewspot, blanket (or maybe combine these with genetics, makes it easier to explain them)


Leopard complex


Other pattern genes, including some form of sabino

Also explain about crop-outs, where appaloosa pattern genes may appear in horses, even though they are not visible. When combined with a horse with leopard complex, they can create spotted appaloosa offspring.

Congenital stationary night blindness


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