The Appaloosa is not only a historic treasure steeped in history but was developed to be a versatile horse. Versatility is still a hallmark of the breed that has a colorful color pattern but can also be solid colored.
There are many ways the Appaloosa can make his mark in the world. As a Western Pleasure horse as well as English Pleasure he can be a colorful and talented mount to compete with in breed shows as well as a minimally colored representative that blends in more in open shows that may have a breed bias against Appaloosas.
His ability to stay on his feet has won him favor as a trail horse, a polo pony and a range of activities included in daily ranch work. His ability to take care of the rider and get through anything can be a challenge to bring along but it is worth nurturing.
As a cutting horse, barrel horse, reining horse or gymkhana mount he has speed as well as athletic ability. He can be a race horse on the track where his sprinting speed is used as well as an elegant competitor in the dressage ring. His ability to navigate a cross country course or a jumping arena has been shown as well. The Appaloosa also makes a beautiful driving horse.
This is a breed that was developed for speed and endurance by the Nez Perce as a means of survival. They needed to have speed but they also needed to be calm enough for the women and children to be around. The US slaughtered many of the Nez Perce horses following the capture of Chief Joseph. They were also bred indiscriminantly to everything from draft horses to ponies. Today the Pony of Americas continues the versatility in a smaller package. The appaloosa is largely quarter horse and Thoroughbred breeding although Arabians have been used in any of the horses past and present.
The halter horses are predominantly the stock type. Although even not too many years ago the same horse could be western and English pleasure, keyhole or stump race and jumper the competition has become slightly more specialized.
Some individuals of the breed have a shuffling gait that is considered gaited. Sometimes called “shufflers” these horses are said to be very comfortable to ride with a natural gate that doesn’t bounce’ as a trot does. Some accented this by crossing with the Tennessee walking horse to produce “Walkaloosas” that had the running walk as well as the colorful coat pattern.
One amateur polo player relies on Appaloosas due to their sure footedness, speed and control under the most active of conditions during a match. This has been tested including when another player fell right in front of her and her teenage Appaloosa gelding. They were too close to stop and her Appaloosa simply improvised and jumped the fallen horse and rider, eliminating serious injury for two people and the fallen horse. The gelding had no jumping experience, having been a polo horse for his working life.
The Appaloosa is colorful, athletic and versatile. Give one a try!