The Palomino is accepted as a “color type” and not a “breed” because the ancient golden palomino coloring occurs in a variety of ponies and established horse breeds. The Spanish horses brought palomino coloring to America where it now occurs in the Quarter Horse and Saddlebred. The origin dates back to the 15th-16th centuries.
Although they are not strictly a breed, Palomino horses are bred extensively in the United States. The American Palomino Horse Association registers horses meeting specific standards and measuring between 14.1 and 16 hands. To be eligible for registration, one parent must be registered, and the other must be a Quarter Horse, Arabian or Thoroughbred. They are primarily used under-saddle.
Characteristics depend on the dominant genetic influence. The most favored cross to produce palomino is chestnut with palomino, or chestnut with cream or albino. Although the APHA has height regulations, any size is acceptable. The mane and tail are silvery white and should not contain more than 15% dark hair. The color is comparable to a newly minted gold coin or a few shades lighter or darker. If white markings occur on the legs, they must not extend above the knees or hocks.
The Spanish Horse passed on many physical attributes as well as the distinctive color.