Appaloosas are known for their spotted coats. Their base coat may be almost any colour, but all have a white pattern overlaid on the base coat. There are a number of pattern variations, including spots, blanket, leopard, snowflake and marble, plus endless combinations of the different patterns. These spotted patterns are referred to collectively as the ‘leopard complex’.
So an Appaloosa is a horse with a leopard complex. Ha.
Appaloosas are not the same as other horses with dappled coats: the piebalds, skewbalds, coloureds, paints and pintos. As well as their distinctive coats, Appaloosas share three other characteristics not typically found in other dappled (and non-dappled) horses: mottled skin; striped hooves; and white sclera.
The most well-known patterns include:
- Leopard Spot – white Appaloosas with fairly evenly distributed spots (like dalmatians)
- Few Spot Leopard – white Appaloosas with a few coloured spots generally on the flanks, legs, neck and head
- Blanket – Appaloosas with a dark base coat and a blanket of white, marked with spots of the base colour, across the hindquarters
- Snowflake – Appaloosas with a dark base coat and flecks of white across their bodies, which may increase and merge as they age.
The leopard complex markings are not always evident in Appaloosa foals. Often they are born dark, and the leopard complex doesn’t become evident until they’re a few years old. Making things even more interesting, an Appaloosa’s spots may move and change each time it sheds it coat.
Whichever pattern they’re sporting, they’re beautiful.
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