TheAppaloosa is an Americanhorse breed best known for its colorfulspotted coat pattern. There is a wide range of body types within the breed, stemming from the influence of multiple breeds of horses throughout its history. Each horse's color pattern is genetically the result of various spotting patterns overlaid on top of one of several recognized base coat colors. The color pattern of the Appaloosa is of interest to those who studyequine coat color genetics, as it and several other physical characteristics are linked to theleopard complex mutation (LP Artwork depicting prehistoric horses with leopard spotting exists in prehistoriccave paintingsin Europe. Images ofdomesticated horseswith leopard spotting patterns appeared in artwork fromAncient GreeceandHan dynastyChina through theearly modern period. In North America, theNez Percepeople of what today is the United StatesPacific Northwestdeveloped the original American breed.Settlersonce referred to these spotted horses as the "Palouse horse", possibly after thePalouse River, which ran through the heart of Nez Perce country. Gradually, the name evolved intoAppaloosa.
The Nez Perce lost most of their horses after the Nez Perce War in 1877, and the breed fell into decline for several decades. A small number of dedicated breeders preserved the Appaloosa as a distinct breed until the Appaloosa Horse Club(ApHC) was formed as the breed registry in 1938. The modern breed maintains bloodlines tracing to the foundation bloodstock of the registry; its partially open stud book allows the addition of some Thoroughbred, American Quarter Horse and Arabianblood.
Today, the Appaloosa is one of the most popular breeds in the United States; it was named the official state horse of Idaho in 1975. It is best known as a stock horse used in a number of western ridingdisciplines, but is also a versatile breed with representatives seen in many other types of equestrian activity. Appaloosas have been used in many movies; an Appaloosa is the mascot for the Florida State Seminoles. Appaloosa bloodlines have influenced other horse breeds, including the Pony of the Americas, the Nez Perce Horse, and several gaited horse breeds.