Idaho State Mammal
Appaloosa Horse (common name)
Equus ferus caballus (scientific name)
The Appaloosa is a horse breed best known for its leopard-spotted coat pattern, though it has other distinctive physical characteristics. The Nez Perce people of the American Pacific Northwest developed this breed. White settlers once referred to the Appaloosa as "Palouse horse," possibly after the Palouse River, which ran through the heart of Nez Perce country. Gradually, the name evolved into "Appaloosa."
After the Nez Perce War in 1877, the Nez Perce were placed on a reservation comprised of barren land and their horses were almost driven to extinction. A small number of dedicated breeders kept the Appaloosa alive for several decades until a registry was formed in 1938. Today the Appaloosa is one of the most popular breeds in the United States, and it was named the official state horse of Idaho in 1975.
ALSO KNOWN AS
Most Appaloosas have spotted coats, striped hooves, and mottled skin, which is most visible around their eyes and on their muzzle. They also have white sclera around the eyes. Appaloosas can have brown, blue, or hazel eyes, and an individual horse may have eyes of two different colors. While the original "old time" Appaloosas often had sparse manes and tails, most modern Appaloosas have full manes and tails. The base color of the Appaloosa can include bay, black, chestnut, palomino, and buckskin. However, it is the unique spotting pattern that most people associate with the Appaloosa. These markings are on the base coat color and have several pattern variations.
Worldwide; most live in the United States.
Conservation Status: Appaloosas were almost extinct in the decades following the Nez Perce War. Today there are over 600,000 registered Appaloosas, and registrations exceed 10,000 per year in the U.S.
Hardiness and tractability of temperament make the Appaloosa a highly sought-after breed. Highly adaptable, the Appaloosa excels not only in western riding, but also in many equestrian disciplines. Appaloosas compete in western riding competitions that include cutting, reining, rodeo and O-Mok-See sports such as barrel racing and pole bending. There is horse racing for Appaloosas, and they do well in endurance riding as well as being casual trail-riding companion animals.
Most horses only need quality forage, water, and a salt or mineral block. Grain or other concentrates are often not necessary. Horses prefer to eat small amounts of food steadily throughout the day, as they do in nature when grazing on pasture.
Breeding interval: Annual
Average litter size: 1 foal; twins are very rare
Height: At the withers, a foal has 60 percent of its mature height at birth.
Weight: A foal weighs approximately 10 percent of the dam's weight.
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Data Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Author: World Trade Press