Today’s Horse Facts: The Appaloosa – a Blanket of Brilliance

The Appaloosa horse is usually covered with beautiful spots, but he’s not to be confused with pintos.



The Appaloosa: A Blanket of Brilliance

A dark brown horse with a white and brown spotted rump running in a field.

(Photo compliments of Wikipedia)

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

(Psalm 32:1)

The splashy Appaloosa is one of the most popular breeds in the United States, so popular it was even named the official state horse of Idaho in 1975. The breed as we know it today is believed to have originated in the northwestern Native American tribe called the Nez Perce way back in the 17th Century. But did this horse get its earliest start in other parts of the world?

Some French cave paintings thousands of years old show “spotted” horses like Appaloosas. In China, the ancient peoples called this horse “heavenly,” and Persians have called him “sacred.”  But here in the westward expansion of our American territory, the colonists first noticed the beautiful breed as the favorite horse of a unique people, who lived near the Palouse River (which runs from north central Idaho to the Snake River in southeast Washington State.) The Nez Perce Indians rode stunning equines—red and blue roans, with spots all over their rumps. The pioneers had never seen anything like this breed of horse that stood between 14 and 16 hands. They started calling him “palousey,” which means “the stream of the green meadows.” Eventually, the name changed to “Appaloosa.”

People who don’t know much about horses often confuse Appaloosas with Pintos, thinking they are the same, but they certainly aren’t. Although “Apps” are known for the blankets on their rumps, there are ten different patterns of spots found on Appaloosas. They can have spots all over their dark or light-colored bodies. But an App must also have some characteristics quite unique to be registered as an official pureblood Appaloosa: striped hooves, spotted skin around his eyes and lips, and a white outer coat called a sclera encircling his brown or blue eyes.

If you want to buy a gorgeous Appaloosa mare and her foal, you might be surprised to see the foal with a solid coat. Therefore, it’s not always easy to predict a grown App’s color at birth. Spot patterns emerge over time but sometimes change over the course of the horse’s life. Apps with a varnish roan or snowflake pattern are two that become more visible as they grow. Some horses, like those with the blanket or leopard patterns, tend to stay the same once their spots start to emerge. But one thing is certain. The blanket or “covering” of the Appaloosa makes this husky stock horse a head turner whether he’s competing in western horse shows, strolling down the street in a parade, or ambling on a woodsy trail.

The covering of the Appaloosa makes him a special horse. Do you have a “covering” in your life that makes you special to God?

This covering we call “salvation” is the one God places over every person who accepts Jesus Christ as his or her Savior.  Like a blanket smothering the flames of a destructive fire, God places his covering of love over our sins and smothers them when Jesus comes into our lives and gives us the desire and power to do right.

Do you have God’s covering of love in your life? If you do, then when you struggle with anger, being nasty, or laziness and say you’re sorry, God’s ready to forgive you and cover you with His love.  And when you walk by, others will notice a “blanket of brilliance” that comes from your smiling face and servant’s heart.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for covering my sins and giving me a new way of thinking. Please help me to display my “blanket of brilliance” to others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

Think of some bad habits God is helping you overcome since He’s covered your sins. _______________________________________________________________________________________________


Take your ride: (Do you know?) Roan is a coat pattern with an even mixture of colored and white hairs on the horse with his head, lower legs, mane, and tail mostly solid colors. The silvering effect of mixed white and colored hairs often creates coats that look bluish or pinkish. Bluish roans are called “blue roans,” and pinkish roans are called “strawberry roans” or “red roans.”


Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins” (Proverbs 10:12).