Did you know that the earliest ancestors of the horse lived right here in North America? For some reason, though, the horse became extinct on this continent around 11,000 years ago. While humans were present here at that time, there is no evidence to suggest domestication was attempted, or and certainly no populations survived.
When many people think of Paint horses, they think Wild West scenes, with bands of Comanche warriors mounted on dappled horses attempting to ride down groups of cowboys. In many ways, these scenes to depict an accurate picture of the origins of the Paint breed.
Paint horses are the direct result of the domestication of horses by Native American tribes. Several different cultures including the aforementioned Comanche, the Sioux, and the Chickasaw, were able to tame and breed horses on their own. They found these horses wandering the plains, ancestors of those the Spanish had left behind.
These original North American horses were descended from several different blood lines, including both Iberian and Arabian horses. Interbred, they took on some of the best qualities of all the European breeds.
The Native horses were crossed with English Thoroughbreds by Eastern colonists for their sturdiness and for their speed. The first results of this cross were known as Quarter horses, thanks to their ability to outpace other breeds over short distances.
The American Quarter Horse was first recognized as a breed in 1940, with the formation of the American Quarter Horse Association. These horses had a specific body type; the animals were muscular and heavy, on the short side for a large horse, with well developed hindquarters and low centres of gravity.
A Matter of Color!
All of these characteristics suited the Paint as well, but the AQHA would not include horses with pinto coat patterns or those with white body spots or any white above the hocks and knees in the breed. The reasons for this are unknown, although it could be a leftover tendency of dominant societies to associate pure colour with purity.
Whatever the reason, champions of the coloured horse still remained. They preserved the bloodlines and the qualities of coloured stock horses, and in 1965 the American Paint Horse Association was formed. It guaranteed the survival of these beautiful horses as a breed.
Types of Paint
Today, the Paint Association is the second largest breed registry in the US. The horses themselves are divided into two types. Regular Paints are those with colour, while solid paint bred horses are one colour, but born of two registered Paint parents.