FAQ Other

What’s a Spotty Horse Called?

Written by Horse Rookie

A Horse of Many Colors

Horses come in lots of different colors, patterns, and variations. That’s part of why we find the species so fascinating!

A spotty or dotted horse is typically referred to as an Appaloosa (“apple-ooo-sa”). This breed can have spots all over its body or a blanket pattern on its rump.

If you see a horse with large patches of white and brown, black, or tan, it’s more like a Pinto or Paint horse.


Appaloosa (left) and paint (right) horses (Source: Pixabay)

About the Appaloosa

The Appaloosa was originally bred by the Nez Perce Indian tribe in the Northwest. The horses were used primarily for hunting buffalo and to moving around the great plains.

Learn why Appaloosas made our list of the 11 Best Breeds for First Time Horse Owners.

Fun Fact: Only approximately 10% of the Appaloosas first bred by the Nez Perce were spotted!


The breed is best known for loves of spots! (Source: Pixabay)

You might like riding an Appaloosa if you:

  • Love Making a Splash: The blanket of spots or leopard coat pattern stand out from the crowd. Not all Appaloosas are as colorful, though, and only ONE spot is technically required to become a registered Appaloosa.
  • Love History: The Appaloosa club honors the breed’s history every year with the Chief Joseph Trail Ride in July, a four-day ride from Grangeville, Idaho to Musselshell Meadows, Idaho. Join them!
  • Love Variety: This breed is known for its versatility, so you’ll see them doing all kinds of English and Western activities.
  • Love Young Riders: Appaloosas are also known for their kind (yet sometimes sassy) temperaments and calm personalities. This makes them a favorite among children and young adults.
  • Love Personality: Appaloosas are fun-spirited and entertaining. Find the right one for you, and it’ll make you smile every day.

Want to Learn More? Visit The Appaloosa Horse Club.

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About the author

I began riding horses at age six, and I'm just as infatuated (OK, more!) with the sport decades later. My AQHA gelding exemplifies the versatility of the breed -- reined cow horse, reining, roping, ranch riding, trail, dressage, and jumping. We're also dipping our toes (hooves) into Working Equitation!