Although the spotted gene has been in horses since the beginning of the equine race, the development of the Appaloosa horse and its distinctive pattern is credited to the Nez Percé Indians of the Pacific Northwest. The name is derived from the valley of the Palouse River. The origin dates back to the 18th century.
The Appaloosa horse was founded on the spotted strains of Spanish stock brought to the Americas. The Nez Percé practiced strict selective processes in the breeding; as a result, they attained a practical and unmistakable workhorse. In 1877, the tribe and its horses were almost eradicated as the United States troops seized tribal lands. Revival attempts later saved the breed. They are often used under-saddle.
The modern Appaloosa horse is a stock and pleasure horse often used for jumping and racing. It is known for its endurance, stamina, and good temperament. There are five recognized Appaloosa coat patterns: blanket, marble, leopard, snowflake, and frost. They stand between 14.2 and 15.2 hands. The head is distinctive due to the noticeably mottled skin on the nose and the white sclera surrounding the eye. The hair of the mane and tail is short and sparse. The body is deep and the ribs are rounded and well-sprung. The compact outline and strong quarters are a result of the recent introduction of Quarter Horse blood. Good legs are a prerequisite; the hooves are hard with vertical stripes.
The Spanish Horse added strength, adaptability, hardiness and the trademark spotted coat.