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Looking for a flashy horse that is not only beautiful but also versatile, gentle and willing to please? The Appaloosa has done it all from: racing, dressage, fox hunting, reining and roping cattle on the ranch, trail and pleasure horse and everything in between.
The Appaloosa dates back to pre-historic times with cave drawings that have depicted the spotted coat characteristic of today's present breed. The Appaloosa was favored by the Nez Perce Indian tribe which occupied areas of the Pacific and inland Northwest now comprising the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
The Nez Perce become sophisticated horseman once the horse was reintroduced to North America by the Spanish. This Indian tribe selectively bred their horses for intelligence, speed, sure footedness, stamina, versatility and secondarily for color. Originally the Appaloosa was named the "Palouse" horse after the Palouse River that ran through the tribal area.
The Appaloosa helped the Nez Perce Indians elude the American Calvary during the Nez Perce War of the late 1800's. The native population was forced to surrender in Montana. Following the war, the United States Cavalry almost destroyed the breed. In order to control the Nez Perce Indian population, the U.S. cavalry destroyed most of their horses upon which they had become dependent.
In 1938 the ApHC or Appaloosa Horse Club dedicated themselves to reestablishing the breed. The gene pool was so small that they had to incorporate Quarter Horse and Arabian blood.
The present day Appaloosa has a muscular build and ranges from 14.2 to 16 hands in height. The Appaloosa is characterized by a white sclera around the eyes, mottled skin and striped hooves.
Coat patterns of the Appaloosa include the leopard, snowflake, blanket and the varnish. The snowflake has a solid coat color with a sprinkle or dusting of white. The leopard has definitive spots over the entire body. The blanket marking consists of a solid white area across the hips or even up to the shoulder area and may contain spots. Horses that are roan with dark strips along the face bones are known to contain the pattern termed "varnish."
The Appaloosa was named the official state horse of Idaho in 1975. An Appaloosa is also one of the mascots for the Florida State Seminoles.
The Appaloosa has a genetic predilection for the development of Equine Sarcoids. Sarcoids are fibroblastic skin tumors. This is the most frequently occurring neoplasm in the horse and may account for 30% of all tumors seen in this species. This mass may be locally aggressive but is non-metastatic.
The second most common cutaneous neoplasia in the horse is that of the Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) which accounts for 18.3 % of the cutaneous tumors in horses. There is a higher prevalence of SCC in the Appaloosa. It is believed that extended exposure of nonpigmented or sparsely haired skin to UV light creates a major risk factor for the development of this tumor in the Appaloosa.
The Appaloosa horse has an eightfold greater risk of developing Equine Recurrent Uveitis (ERU) than all other breeds of horses combined. Up to 25% of all horses with ERU are Appaloosas. ERU may lead to blindness. Eighty percent of all uveitis cases are found in Appaloosas with roan or light-colored coat patterns. Appaloosas that are homozygous for the leopard complex (LP) gene are also at risk for congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB). CSNB is a disorder that causes an affected horse to lack night vision, although day vision is normal. CSNB is an inherited disorder, present from birth, and does not progress over time. Compared to other breeds of horses, the Appaloosa has a higher risk of losing their sight and going blind in both eyes.