What Makes an Appaloosa and Appaloosa?
Coat Pattern: What makes an Appaloosa easy to spot are the colorful spots that often over part, or all, of its body. This is called the horse’s Appaloosa coat pattern.
Some Appaloosas are white with spots over their entire body. This is sometimes called a “leopard” pattern, because it resembles the coat of a spotted leopard. An Appaloosa with white over its entire body with few or no spots inside the white is sometimes called a “few spot leopard”.
Appaloosas may have white extending over their hips and onto their back like a blanket. This is sometimes called a “blanket” pattern. A blanket may or may not have spots inside it. When a blanket doesn’t have spots, it is sometimes called a “snowcap” pattern – it looks like fresh snow on top of a mountain!
Appaloosas can also be born with small patches of white roan hairs over their hips. This is sometimes called a “frost” pattern. Sometimes these small, frosty patches become bigger as a horse gets older. This is called “roaning”.
Appaloosas can sometimes develop white spots all over a dark coat. These clusters of white are sometimes called a “snowflake” pattern.
Not all Appaloosas will have a coat pattern – sometimes they will be one solid color, like a Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse. But even without a coat pattern, you can still tell an Appaloosa is an Appaloosa by looking for the following three traits:
Mottled Skin: Many Appaloosas, whether or not they have an Appaloosa coat pattern, will have mottled skin. Mottled skin is a speckled combination of skin with both dark and light pigment, and can be found on the skin around a horse’s muzzle, eyes, and genitals. Some Appaloosas are born without mottled skin, but develop it as they get older.
White Sclera: If you look at your eye in a mirror, the white part encircling the colored iris of your eye is called the sclera. Horses have sclera, too, although most horse breeds have a dark sclera encircling their iris. But Appaloosas often have a white sclera just like you, which has led some people to say that Appaloosas have “humanlike” eyes!
Striped Hooves: A horse’s hoof is made of a material called “keratin”, and is similar to the material that makes up your fingernails and toenails! Horses may have four white hooves, four dark hooves, or a combination of both. White hooves are found on legs with white leg markings, while dark hooves occur on solid-colored legs.
Appaloosas often have “striped hooves”, which is a bold up-and-down striping of light and dark on the same hoof. Appaloosa striped hooves only occur on solid-colored legs, so Appaloosas with four white leg markings will never have striped hooves.