rich and fascinating history of the Appaloosa breed
is as unique as its colorful spotted coat patterns.
The following is a brief, non-comprehensive overview.
Additional historical information is available at Appaloosa
The Spanish introduced horses to Mexico in the 1500s.
Following the Pueblo Revolt, horses rapidly spread throughout
North America, reaching the Northwest around 1700. The
Nez Perce tribe became excellent horsemen and breeders,
creating large herds renowned for their strength, intelligence
to the introduction of the horse, the Nez Perce were
sedentary fishers. Horses gave the tribes greater
mobility and power, altering their culture forever.
Soon, the Nez Perce were famous throughout the Northwest
for their hunting skills and craftsmanship. These
skills allowed the Nez Perce to trade for necessary
goods and services.
their superior horses they had little difficulty killing
what buffalo they needed. Soon they began to use the
Plains-type tipi in place of their old community houses…Heavy
stone mortars and similar burdensome possessions were
either discarded entirely, or left at the fishing
spots for occasional use.
Famous explorer Meriwether Lewis was appropriately
impressed with the breeding accomplishments of the
Nez Perce, as noted in his diary entry from February
Their horses appear to be of an excellent race; they
are lofty, eligantly [sic] formed, active and durable…some
of these horses are pided with large spots of white
irregularly scattered and intermixed with black, brown,
bey [sic] or some other dark color.
It is unknown how many of the Nez Perce’s horses were
spotted, but a possible estimate is ten percent. Settlers
coming into the area began to refer to these spotted
horses as “A Palouse Horse”, as a reference to the
Palouse River, which runs through Northern Idaho.
Over time, the name evolved into “Palousey,” “Appalousey,”
and finally “Appaloosa.”
In the mid-1800s, settlers flooded
onto the Nez Perce reservation, and conflicts soon
ensued. The Nez Perce War of 1877 resulted in their
herds being dispersed.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, interest in the
breed gradually began to grow as Appaloosas began
appearing in Western roundups and rodeos.
Appaloosa’s flashy coat patterns caught the eye of
the public, and in 1937 an article in Western Horseman
entitled “The Appaloosa, or Palouse Horse” revealed
a widespread interest in the breed.
With the goal of preserving and improving the Appaloosa
breed, the Appaloosa Horse Club was chartered in 1938.
From those first few enthusiasts, the Club has grown
into one of the leading equine breed registries in
On March 25, 1975 Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus signed
a bill naming the Appaloosa as the state horse. This
is a deserving honor for a horse that has been an
integral part of Idaho history.
Today, the beautiful spotted horse is one of the most
beloved of American horse breeds and can be found
throughout the world, excelling in disciplines including
western pleasure, games, working cow horse and dressage.
Appaloosas are prized for their easy-going dispositions
and their reliability as family horses.
out more in the Appaloosa