Breed evolution: Spanish explorers first brought "painted" or two-toned horses to North America. The Spanish breeds - Barb, Andalusian, and Arabian Horses - eventually formed the foundation for the wild mustang herds found throughout the American West. Native Americans prized their painted ponies, and tribal communities assigned magical properties to their mounts' resplendent, colorful markings.
As the centuries passed, Thoroughbred horses - brought to North America by English settlers - added to the mustang gene pool. Soon, early breeders sought to create working stock with stamina and good minds to be good ranch and trail partners.
Records show that some of the best-known foundation sires of the Quarter Horse breed had sufficient color to be regarded as American Paint Horses today. In fact, Quarter Horses and Paints shared a common history and gene pool until 1940, when the American Quarter Horse Association was formed. At that time, the AQHA excluded horses with "excessive white"- in other words, Paint Horses - from its registry. Even cropouts, the painted offspring from two registered Quarter Horse parents, were denied entry.
Paint Horse Resources
Twenty years later, this virtual shutout resulted in the formation of two organizations, the American Paint Quarter Horse Association and the American Stock Horse Association. Both registered Paint Horses with Quarter Horse ancestry. In 1965, they merged to form the modern American Paint Horse Association.
Each Paint Horse has a unique combination of white and color - colors include black, bay, brown, chestnut, dun, grulla, sorrel, palomino, buckskin, gray, or roan. Markings can be any shape or size, and located virtually anywhere on the horse's body.
Although Paint Horses come in a variety of colors and markings, there are only three specific coat patterns: tobiano, overo, and tovero.
• The tobiano typically shows white over his back and up his legs, with white below his hocks and knees. His head is a solid-color, possibly with star, snip, or blaze. His mane and tail are usually two colors.
• The overo's white originates on the horse's underside (but rarely crosses his back), and he tends to show color on his legs. Typically, he has lots of white on his head, and one or both of his eyes are blue.
• The tovero exhibits a combination of tobiano and overo characteristics. For example, the tovero might have basic tovero coloring, but with a bald face.