Built with a distinct stock-type conformation, American Paint Horses are widely known for their unique coat patterns, which are essential to the identity of the breed.
For registration and breeding purposes, Paint Horses are categorized by their individual coat pattern, which can be tobiano, overo or tovero.
The tobiano pattern is distinguished by oval or round spots that extend down the neck and chest. White will often cross the horse's back between its withers and tail. The tobiano's head markings may be completely solid, or have a blaze, strip, star or snip. Generally, their legs are white, at least below the knees and hocks, and their tail is often two colours.
The overo pattern may be predominantly dark or white. Typically, the white will not cross the back of the horse between its withers and tail. Overos often have bold white head markings, such as a bald face. Generally, an overo's body markings will be irregular and scattered, and one or all four legs will be dark. Their tail is usually one colour.
Because not all coat patterns fit neatly into these two categories, the American Paint Horse Association expanded its classifications to include the tovero pattern to describe horses that have characteristics of both the tobiano and overo patterns.
An American Paint Horse is an intelligent, stock-type horse that is built for quickness, speed, agility and dexterity. These qualities, plus a willing attitude, make the Paint Horse ideal for pleasure riding, ranch work, rodeoing, racing and showing-plus, they're a perfect mount for children and novice horsemen and women.
Strong-boned and well-balanced, Paint Horses also exhibit just the right amount of refinement and beauty, especially about the head and neck. Differentiated from other stock-type breeds by their colourful coats, Paint Horses have unique coat patterns, making each horse a one-of-a-kind original.
The American Paint Horse Association sprang from the efforts of like-minded horsemen and women who loved the ability and speed of the Western "stock" type horse, but who also appreciated the extra eye appeal of the American Paint.
In the early 1960s, two groups formed to preserve the Paint Horse's heritage: the American Paint Quarter Horse Association (APQHA), founded in 1961, and the American Paint Stock Horse Association (APSHA) founded in 1962 by Rebecca Tyler Lockhart. In 1965, the two organizations united to become the American Paint Horse Association (APHA).
Not satisfied with a breed based entirely on coat patterns, the founders of the APHA set strict standards for conformation, athletic ability and performance, as well as demanding intelligence, a calm temperament and a willing disposition.
To be eligible for registry with APHA, horses must come from stock registered with one of three recognized organizations: the APHA, the AQHA and the Jockey Club (US Thoroughbred Registry). Solid-coloured horses with Paint Horse bloodlines are included in the APHA registry as Breeding Stock. However, the association maintains minimum colour requirements for registration in the Regular Registry.
Each year, the APHA hosts four major events - a workshop held in June, the World Championship Paint Horse Show, the Fort Robinson Trail Ride and the APHA Convention and Membership meeting.
Today, the APHA is the world's fastest growing and second largest equine breed in number of horses registered annually.
With more than 75,000 members in the United States, Canada, Mexico and 32 foreign countries, the APHA is always trying to find new ways to enhance the Paint Horse ownership experience. By developing new programs and improving on those already existing, the association strives to encourage more of the Paint Horse breed's 200,000+ owners to become actively involved in APHA events and programs.