Colored horses have always attracted attention as you can see in the art of many cultures. Tombs from Egypt dating back to the fourth century BC have representations of horses colored like the Paints of today. Spain had many colored horses with the tobiano and overo patterns. In Europe, paintings from the sixteenth century show that paint-colored horses were highly prized by the wealthiest people. Then for some reason, paint-colored horses became less popular in a majority of Western Europe. When that happened, more than a few were shipped to America (yay for us!). When they came to colonial New England, they were traded off, often to Native Americans or Canadian fur-trappers because the Puritans thought their coat was too flashy!
As numbers of horses boomed, first in Mexico and then northward, various Native American tribes often sought paint-colored horses, and incorporated them into breeding herds. They kept the horses they liked and they traded away the ones they didn’t like. Paint-colored horses were more easily camouflaged than other horse, which was one reason they appealed to the Native Americans living on the plains. They reportedly rode horses that blended into the natural and seasonal colors of the country they were driving through. When cattle ranches began to take up the land used by wild horse and Native Americans were pushed out, along with all remnants of their culture, millions of Mustangs and Native American’s Horses of all colors were sent to slaughter or shot for “sport” : ( However, (thankfully) there were horsemen who prized the beautiful paint horses, so many were spared.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know if a Paint is a Paint or if a Paint is a Pinto; remember: Paint is a breed and has to meet certain criteria; Pinto is a color that can be seen in many different (but not all) breeds. It may help to know that a Paint is 14.2-16.2 hand horse, while a Pinto can be almost any size since it can appear in many breeds. The breed, Paints, are best suited for Western competition, ranch work, and trail riding. My friend, Chloe, has a Paint named Eli. He’s super sweet and follows you around! You can learn more about the Paint breed at the American Paint Horse Association website.
To learn more about the Pinto, visit the Pinto Horse Association of America website.