A leopard’s coat: The Apaloosa

"Sclera and mottling" by Dana boomer - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sclera_and_mottling.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Sclera_and_mottling.jpg

“Sclera and mottling” by Dana boomer – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Today I have been exploring the special Appaloosa breed.

The Appaloosa is an American horse known for the beautiful, leopard-spotted pattern on its coat.It is considered the most popular stock horse in the United States and is mostly used in western riding riding disciplines.

From prehistorical cave artwork in Europe it is assumed that the Appaloosa has lived in the old continent as well. Similar artwork has been found in China. The original, American Appaloosa is claimed to have been bred by the Nez Perce, a native American population who lived in the Pacific Northwest. It is also claimed that the numbers of the original breed dramatically fell as a result of the 1877 Nez Perce War. After the defeat of Nez Perce, the Americans obliged the native Americans to become farmers and provided them with draft mares, which were crossed with Appaloosas, altering the blood of the breed.

The restoration of the Appaloosa population was systematically launched in 1938, by an organization named Apaloosa Horse Blood, who set up a registry. The modern Appaloosa breed includes bloods from other breeds, such as the Arabian, the Thoroughbred and the American Quarter.

Appearance

The distinctive characteristics of the Appaloosa are mottled skin, striped hooves and a white schlera in the eye area. Yet sometimes the individuals of this breed are born with no Apaloosa characteristics, making it hard to know the appearance that the foal will have when it comes to adulthood.

The coat of the breed is called “leopard complex”, and has a variety of patterns. For a horse to be registered in the Appaloosa Horse Club’s registry, its patterns must have the following colours: bay, black, chestnut, palomino, buckskin, cremello, perlino, roan, gray, dun, grulla.

The breed of Appaloosa includes a variety of body types, with height up to 163cm and weight up to 570kg.

"Appaloosasnowcapmareandfoal" by Appaloosas at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“Appaloosasnowcapmareandfoal” by Appaloosas at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Temperament

The Appaloosa horse is intelligent, independent and resilient, while it might also have a fierce attitude. These are characteristics which justify its use in warfare.

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