The AraAppaloosa and Foundation Breeders’ International claim that they are promoting the original type of Appaloosas that the Nez Perce tribe rode. When the tribe surrendered to US forces in 1877, the vast majority of their horses were slaughtered because they were of better quality than US Calvary horses of that time. Any horses that survived were crossed with ranch horses that were mostlyQuarter Horse stock and thus lost their original type.
Breeders of modern Appaloosas claim that this is hogwash. However, writings from the Appaloosa Horse Club’s Founder, Claude Thompson, actually saw some confiscated Nez Perce Appaloosas as a child and described them as resembling an AraAppaloosa. He also used Arabians in his Appaloosa breeding program. And, the leopard-spot pattern seen in Appaloosas has been noted in Barb horses, which were brought over to North America by European colonists. What is a horse breed but a controversy with a mane and tail?
No matter if the AraAppaloosa resembles the original Appaloosa or not, this is still a strikingly beautiful and intelligent animal. The idea is to get the Appaloosa coloring onto an Arabian body. This is usually achieved by crossing a purebred Arabian with a purebred Appaloosa. But even foals born without spots are high-quality animals, suited for companionship or a wide variety of horse sports.
AraAppaloosas tend to be medium-sized horses, averaging 14 – 15 hands high. They can come in any solid color, solid colors with a few spots or any of the Appaloosa spot patterns. Some have the mottled pink skin on the muzzle, genitals and around the eyes. Some have striped hooves. Their manes and tails can vary in thickness and texture, depending on how the genes combined.
AraAppaloosas are also known as Araloosas. Their registry, the AraAppaloosa and Foundation Breeders’ International, seems to be small and does not have a website, but has a loyal following. The registry had just under 5000 horses around 1990. The registry does not even have a website, but that may soon change. It is interesting to note that the comprehensive book “Storey’s Illustrated Guide to 96 Breeds of North America” (Storey Publishing, 2005) did not include the AraApplaoosa.
AraApplaloosas are noted for being all-around horses, with a special aptitude for trail riding or endurance riding. They’ve also competed in Western events, jumping, parade and harness classes. Some AraAppaloosas have been successfully used in riding schools for riders of all levels and for therapeutic riding programs.
Many AraAppaloosas live well into their 30s and, with luck and sensible care, remain vigorous well into their 20s. The older AraAppaloosas seem to tolerate the shenanigans of children and teenagers better than some breeds, but still try to use common sense when working (or playing) around any horse.
“Storey’s Illustrated Guide to 96 Breeds of North America.” Judith Dutson. Storey Publishing; 2005.
“International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds.” Bonnie Hendricks. University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.
(I also used to have a beat-up hardcover book about Appaloosas by Claude Thompson, which I stupidly sold.)
Equine Kingdom. “AraAppaloosa.” http://www.equinekingdom.com/breeds/light_horses/araappaloosa.htm