The Perfect Paint Horse

Paint horses, or pintos as they are often called, look as though they should be a horse of a darker color that accidentally met with a bucket of white paint. (Hence, the name “paint” horses.) There is so much about the paint horse you should know if the horse breed is of particular interest to you.

Paint vs. Pinto Lingo Explained

paint horse

All American paint horses can be pintos, but not all pintos can be paints. This sounds very confusing until you understand that the paint horses are an actual breed registered with the National Paint Registry, but the pinto horse just refers to the color pattern, coat colour, white markings, and overo pattern.

For example, a gypsy vanner pony can be pinto-colored, but it is clearly not a paint horse; it is a gypsy vanner pony by origin of its bloodlines. Conversely, any equine that might be considered part of the paint breed cannot be a paint if the horse’s dam or sire isn’t one of three equine breeds accepted by the National Registry as an acceptable breeding sire or dam to mix with a paint dam or sire.

The Temperament of a Paint

paint horse

Despite the fact that many of these horses were originally feral wild horses and roamed the plains, and that Native Americans allowed their horses to roam free until they needed them to hunt or chose to house them in winter, the temperament of these animals is very even and genteel.

You might expect a paint to have the temperament of a mustang, but they are much quieter and more docile. It is one of the biggest reasons why so may people love paint horses, along with their spotting pattern and markings, blue eyes common to the breed, and/or tri-colored bay paints with black stockings.

They are exceptionally easy to train, too, making them a joy to train to saddle and bridle (e.g., English, Western, or Dressage), driving, jumping, gymkhana, or just about any other type of training you want your equine friend to do. They want to please their humans, so paint horses always work hard to get the training right. A simple lump of sugar can get them to repeat the same trick or expected action over and over again.

Easy Going Nature

paint horse

Their easygoing nature makes them well-suited to hanging out in paddocks with all kinds of large animals. They will not bite or bother cattle, and they usually are not the instigators of an equine squabble in the field. In fact, they are most often the ones that take the brunt of a crabbier, less well-behaved animal, so it may be a good idea to separate more aggressive horses from the herd and put them elsewhere to graze.

You will also find that if you choose to adopt a paint that was a rescue animal, and it was part of a neglected and mistreated herd, they don’t hold a grudge. They quickly acclimate to a healthier, kinder environment and are willing to please. Their amiability, even in light of past misuse or abuse, makes them great horses for kids and a first-time horse owner.

The Paint‘s Many Markings

paint horse

No two paint horses are exactly alike. Not even twin foals will have the exact same markings. A paint’s coat pattern is as unique to each of these horses as fingerprints are to humans. Even if you owned a hundred of these horses you would never have two that even closely match each other. That is half the fun of paint horses.

Paint horses also come in three varieties. These varieties include:

  • Overo: The white “paint” on the animal is coming up from its belly. It stops before it gets to the spine and it never, ever crosses the spine. If you have an equine that even has the littlest bit of white cross the spine, you have a Tobiano, not an Overo, despite how the rest of the markings look.
  • Tobiano: The white “paint” splashes downward from the horse’s spine to the belly. It may stop before it reaches the lower areas of the animal. The Tobiano paint also has a mane and tail of mixed colors, where the Overo only has a dark mane and tail.
  • Solid Color: The solid paint is still a paint when one of its parents is a paint. The resulting lack of white markings means that the foal’s recessive genes for all solid dark color took over. These horses often become breeding stock because they can reintroduce the dark color genes back into a herd.

Additionally, it is usually only the Overo paints that have a “bald” face, a striking white mask that extends over the whole of the face from eye to eye and forelock to muzzle. It is unlikely that you will see this type of face marking in a Tobiano, although Tobianos may sport other facial markings.

Verifying That a Paint Is a Paint Before You Buy It

paint horse

If you want a true paint, there are ways to verify that it is a paint. Otherwise you are just buying a pinto.

First and foremost, ask the seller for papers. Every paint that is a full-blooded paint should be part of a registry, or have at least one parent that is on the registry to be considered a paint. If the seller doesn’t have papers and cannot prove that one or both parents is registered, you are just buying a pinto-colored horse. If the seller refuses, you may want to be very careful about this purchase.

Secondly, there are genetic tests for horses. You can request a thorough examination of the animal with your vet and the vet can take a blood sample to send to a genetic testing lab. It takes a while to get the results back, unfortunately, but at least you would know for certain if the animal is part of the paint breed. This is often how people figure out what they have after they have already purchased their horses and realize that maybe they should have had their horses tested beforehand.

If you opt for the genetic testing, then you can also have the test for Tobiano/Overo markers performed. This part of the genetic test will tell you what horses and coat patterns were used to bring your animal into existence. I also helps if you intend to breed your animal to another paint. Keep in mind that a thoroughbred, a quarter horse, and one other breed are acceptable bloodlines ONLY if one of these breeds is one of the two parents of your equine.

Size and Conformation of a Paint

paint horse

Paint horses vary quite a bit in height. This is due to the fact that their lineage aligns with the feral horses tamed by Native Americans that were originally brought to this country by the Spanish and the horses more commonly used to continue the breed. An American quarter horse is quite a bit taller than the Iberian horses brought by the Spanish, and a thoroughbred can get quite tall as well.

Ergo, paint horses typically measure somewhere between fourteen hands, the size of a large pony, to seventeen hands, nearly the size of a draft animal. You should never use height as a means of determining if an animal is a paint or just a pinto. Height, however, can be a determining factor when deciding how tall you want your pet to be in comparison to your own height and ability to mount your pet for a ride.


What is a breeding stock paint? A paint that does not have white on their body. They may a blotch on the nose or a very small amount around the coronary band. They are generally black and tan.

Poetry in Motion The Clydesdale Horse

Every year during SuperBowl, people who love horses await the famed Budweiser commercials. Why? Because these commercials almost always feature the recognizable and beautiful Clydesdale horses. While most people admire these large draft horses for their beautiful coloring, feathered feet, and graceful movement, they really don’t know that much about this horse breed at all. To really appreciate this draft horse and what it’s currently going through, you have to really get to know the Clydesdale horse.

Heavy Draft Animals for Farming

clydesdale horse

Originally, the Clydesdale breed was developed for the purpose of farming rough Scottish terrain. These animals are around two thousand pounds of pure muscle, with the ability to pull more than just a basic plow. This was necessary given the fact that a lot of Scottish land is not flat, nor is it free of rocky deposits. The powerful Clydesdale breed was able to plod and pull through terrain on slopes and hills and pull up rocks, boulders, and tree stumps with little effort, making them an invaluable farm horse.

In the late 1800s, some of the draft horse breed was shipped to the United States. However, their usual uses never quite caught on, and the popularity of this heavy horse never caught on either. The Clydesdales that remained in the U.S. were not commonly bred until much later, when it was recognized that the breed was slowly fading into history due to lack of use, need, and breeding.

The General Appearance of This Gentle Giant

clydesdale horse

This massive heavy horse comes in three main colors; brown, bay, and black. They typically have four white stockings or socks, with “feathers” from knee or elbow to hoof. They also sport blazes, snips, stars and full-on “balds” on their faces.

The most iconic face marking, of course, is the blaze from forelock to muzzle. While everyone loves the idea of owning a brown or bay Clydesdale that looks like the Budweiser horses, you should not underestimate the striking look of a black and white Clydesdale. A slight dappling of the black low on the hindquarters or high on the legs creates visual interest points on these particular horses.

In terms of height, they stand between six and seven feet tall, although there have been a few on record that broke the standard height measurements. Generally, they will weigh over a ton, which is why you never want to get in the way of a Clydesdale that wants to roll in the grass! Their temperament is very pleasant and amiable, too, making them easygoing pets as well as workhorses.

The Endangered Clydesdale

clydesdale horse

Is the Clydesdale an endangered draft horse breed? It is considered very close to being placed on the endangered list because its numbers worldwide have dwindled significantly. There’s purportedly only about five thousand or less pure blood Clydesdales left in the entire world, and less than a thousand registered breeding females. Both the Clydesdale Registry in Britain and the Clydesdale Preservation Foundation in the United States are working fervently to prevent this breed from becoming endangered, and ultimately, extinct.

Why These Horses Are Facing Such Major Issues

clydesdale horse

You would think after seeing a Clydesdale prance across an open field that there would be no way anyone would let these horses die off. However, it is not that they are not beloved or that there is some sort of plague or disease-causing this problem. Instead, it has a lot to do with the modern age and draft horses in general.

Draft horses were created to pull plows, pull wagons, pull carriages, etc.. When cars came along, people didn’t need these gentle giants to pull any mode of transportation anymore. When tractors were invented for plowing, these horses were once again replaced. In short, they and their main purposes became obsolete. When they were obsolete, there was no need to continue breeding them anymore, and then people just stopped breeding draft horses altogether.

Why the Breed Survives at All

Right about now, you might be wondering why the breed has managed to survive at all. It has a lot to do with Busch and Budweiser beer companies intentionally using them to draw their beer wagons a hundred years ago and then continuing to use them as icons in advertising. They bred these horses on their farms and in their wildlife preserves for decades, sustaining the breed for quite some time.

They had a direct impact on creating a newfound interest in the Clydesdale horse. As such horse lovers that were particularly interested in draft breeds began buying and breeding them. It created a sort of supply and demand for a time, but that has since ebbed away.

Now the Registry and the Preservation organizations have taken up the call to preserve these noble-looking animals. They are doing their best to prevent inbreeding that can ultimately kill off the breed completely. Hence, the breed numbers continue even if they are not used for much, and there is a campaign to promote them as good riding horses that may help.

Other Reasons the Breed Survives

clydesdale horse

The U.S. has many Amish and Mennonite communities. These communities still heavily rely on horses for both transportation and for farming because they don’t often buy machinery to do these jobs/tasks. Ergo, some communities will continue to breed and use Clydesdales.

From time to time, Renaissance Fairs will also use Clydesdales in their performances of jousting and horsemanship in the ring. This is another reason why these horses can continue to live on. You may even spot a few other draft breeds used for the same purpose appearing in the same ring because knights often rode draft horses. Draft horses were the only horses that could support the sheer weight of a suit of armor and still charge into battle. Hence, they are still ideal for these types of performances.

Can You Ride a Clydesdale?

clydesdale horse

Yes, you absolutely can ride a Clydesdale. It is an equine, after all! For anyone who has ever admired the prancing gait with the feathery legs blowing in the wind, you might seriously want to experience what that feels like when they move into their special gait.

Yes, it does require extra-special riding gear for a horse so large. You could ride bareback, but given the width of the back of a Clydesdale, you will want a properly fitted saddle to help you hold on without falling off. The height of most of these horses at the withers (i.e., point of the shoulder at the base of the neck) is between six-and-a-half to seven feet tall, with the horse’s head sitting higher. You definitely need at least a proper bridle and bit, but a proper saddle helps too.

Where to Buy a Clydesdale If You Are Absolutely Smitten

If you can hardly stand it and you absolutely must have one of these horses, you are in luck. There are plenty of breeders around the country. The most notable is the farm in Missouri that is dedicated to restoring the breed’s numbers. You can also check with the Clydesdale Preservation Foundation if you want to buy from a farm/ranch that does not cross-breed or inter-breed their stock. The Foundation will give you resources where you can find a full-blooded Clydesdale for sale.

In the Company of a Mustang Horse

If you like or even love horses, there is a good chance that you have heard of the wild mustang horses. A mustang horse, or simply mustang, is one of the last surviving vestiges of the Old West. These wild horse herds have been running wild and free in the Western half of the United States, from Wyoming and Colorado to California, for over three hundred years. The original horses were Iberian horses brought here by the Spanish conquistadors and later Spanish explorers. Some of this horse breed escaped created small bands of the wild horse population and the rest is history.

Well, almost the rest is history. There is a lot more to these Spanish horses than most people realize and it becomes necessary to consider that the mustang population of wild horse, now more than ever, need human help. That said, let’s delve into everything about America’s wild horse, the Spanish Mustang, and maybe, just maybe, you may want to help or own one of these horses yourself.

The Herd Hierarchy

mustang horse

Every Mustang horse herd has a hierarchy. Every herd, regardless of size, is led by one dominant stallion, followed by his mares, and contains foals and yearlings of both sexes. After the males in the herd reach a year old and the mothers wean them, the stallion will chase off the yearling males to prevent inbreeding and prevent any challenges for ownership of the herd and leadership.

Stallion Mustang

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Rogue males may roam in a pack together until they find a herd and want to challenge the leader. Older stallions may lose the fight if they are beyond their prime and then the younger studs take over the herd. This could happen several times in the same year. If you see a lone Mustang roaming about, there’s a very good chance that it is a stallion without a herd of his own. However, on rare occasions a pregnant mare about to give birth may roam far from the herd to give birth and return to the herd with her newborn foal the next day. You only have to look at the belly to tell what you are seeing.

The stallion that leads each herd tries to gain as many mares as he can. This is his harem with which he can breed as he pleases. As each mare comes into heat, the stallion will mate with her often to get her pregnant. If another stallion comes along and tries to mate with the mares in the herd, he will be challenged by the leader. The battles between the two stallions are often to the death, or until the defeated stallion gives up and runs away. Many male horses often die in an attempt to gain control of a herd, but that is how these horses keep going.

The Plight of These Horses

mustang horse

For a long time the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, was fighting a losing battle with the elevated numbers of Mustangs and the need to share federal land with grazing cattle. Massive ranches encompassing thousands of acres of land fed the cattle raised on them, but it challenged the health and well-being of the feral horse. Cows will wrap their tongues around blades of grass and pull it up to chew it, while horses chomp it down to the nubs above ground leaving nothing for the cattle. Ranchers were angry enough to shoot the horses, and that just was not working for animal activists.

That is when the BLM got together with other groups and talked it over with the President and other VIPs to determine what should be done with the Mustangs. The Mustangs were a symbol of the American West, a part of the nation’s history and heritage, but the herds had grown to be too large. It was decided that to save these horses’ lives, the herds would require a little thinning out, and preferably without having to kill or slaughter them.

mustang horse

So the plan hatched to resolve this issue was rather simple, and it certainly appealed to hundreds of people for various reasons. Every year the BLM rounds up the herds of Mustangs, corrals them in pens, gives every animal a complete health physical, and then offers them a second chance to be someone’s beloved pet. Anyone who is willing to follow the strict requirements for adopting a Mustang (or feral burro/donkey) can bring their trailers to these events, pick out which feral horse or animals they want to adopt, pay the very tiny adoption fees, and take their animals home with them.

Adopting a Mustang

mustang horse

Everyone who pursues a Mustang adoption has to undergo a rigorous background check. It ensures that adopters are not employers of meat-packing plants, dog food processors, etc.. The BLM will not allow a single horse to go to slaughter for any reason. Once you pass the background check, you have to pay $150 adoption fee for each animal you want. This includes pregnant mares, which end up being a “two for one” deal. You must show that you have a trailer for proper transport, you have a vet on standby at home, and that you have boarding, shelter, and a plan on hand.

Most people want to train these animals to be proper riding horses. It absolutely can be done because the ancestors of these horses were domestic animals. It will, however, take time and patience before you can ride your Mustang, as they have typically grown up feral and are not accustomed to bridle, bit, and saddle.

mustang horse

Additionally, for the first time ever in 2020, the BLM is now offering a program to pay you to adopt a Mustang. The herds need even more thinning out, and if you can prove that you have taken excellent care of the horse or horses you take home with you, the BLM returns your adoption fee as a thank you for your support for the program. If you want to own and cherish an American original and living legend, the Mustang is the best way to do it.

General Characteristics Of Mustangs

mustang horse

Most Mustangs are about fourteen to fifteen hands high. For non-horse people, a “hand” is about four inches, and fourteen hands is about fifty-six inches at the top of the horse’s shoulder where the neck meets the shoulder and slopes to the back. Coming in at just under five feet in height, a Mustang is a medium-sized animal about the size of a large pony. This makes them an ideal riding mount for anyone of small to medium stature, once the horses are fully trained, of course.

Most of them are brown, bay, or chestnut in color. However, there is an occasional gray, dapple, pinto, or black Mustang in the mix. There is also the Kiger Mustang and bim mustang. Most of them will have white facial markings and/or socks/stockings. Very rarely is a Mustang a completely solid color.

They range from about eight hundred to eleven hundred pounds, depending on their height and build. The stallions that lead the herd are never adopted out, but you can adopt a male yearling. If well-cared-for a Mustang can live to be thirty years old or longer, almost a third of a human life.

mustang horse

You are not allowed to sell or give away the Mustang in the first five years. Ergo, you do have to make a commitment to each animal you adopt, regardless of any problems, behaviors, or illnesses the animals have. Additionally, if a Mustang dies in your care, you are supposed to report its death and how it died so that you will not be barred by the BLM from adopting another animal in the future.

Percheron: The French Gentle Giant

The Percheron horse is the French answer to the Scottish Clydesdale and the British Shire horse. Like many other of the draft breed, this particular horse breed has its own unique features and history. They often grow to be quite large, yet they are very docile in nature and have a calm temperament.

Whether you are just interested in heavy draft horses, or you are interested in knowing everything there is to know about all horses, you might want to know a lot more about Percherons. It may come as a surprise, but there is actually a lot to know about the Percheron draft horse.

From the French Perche Province

These horses originated in Northwest France in the 19th century in a province formerly known as the Perche province. Their bloodlines have been crossed and recrossed over time to get a few more desirable characteristics into the breed, such as Arabian blood to give them a slightly sleeker look for carriage work. They were shipped all over the country and to other countries for various purposes.

How the Breed Helped the Allies in World War II


Most people don’t realize that horses were still in use in battle up through the second World War. If the cavalry wasn’t charging forward, then the very willing and unafraid Percheron war horse was used to pull cannons, machine guns, shell and rocket launchers and even supply carts for troops. Because the trusty Percheron breed horses were dominant in France and France belonged to the Allies, these horses helped do a majority of the heavy lifting and transport on the battlefield for the first World War in different parts of Europe.

These horses were also shipped to the U.S. very early on. They were preferred for farm work, as a driving horse over the Clydesdale, and only the British Shire was more popular for this type of work. That is why you will see many Percherons in the United States today.

One of the Largest Equine Breeds in the World


Percherons have set world records for being both the heaviest and the tallest draft horses in the world. The only horses who are heavier and taller are the Shire horses of Great Britain. As for Percherons, they can reach heights of seventeen or eighteen hands high at the withers/shoulder, and world records for Percherons is 19.1 hands high. You could easily be dwarfed standing next to these horses, especially if you are shorter than six feet tall (which most people are).

In terms of weight, they typically weigh two-and-one-half tons, give or take a couple hundred pounds. If that is not surprising enough, they are able to pull three to four times their own body weight, which is why they are such excellent workhorses and make a great driving horse. A team of Percherons working together have been recorded as having the ability to pull almost five times their combined body weight, a feat that is truly something to see.



Percherons are almost always black or gray. Dappling is very common, and gray that appears almost white is as desirable as solid black for the purpose of pulling carriages. In carriage pulling, people tend to look for two to eight horses of equal coloring and marking so that the sight of these horses together is quite uniform.

On occasion a very dark brown or dark bay is born. However, the color may darken or lighten as these horses get older. Most historic pictures depict Percherons as almost white, dapple gray and/or black. If they are cross-bred at any point in their lineage, you may see a chestnut, sorrel, bay or roan, but the true French Percheron are born black and become gray with age, much like a Lippizaner. The French only recognize black and gray Percherons in their national registry.



If you thought Clydesdales were muscular, then you have never seen Percherons. Percherons are extremely stocky-looking standing next to Clydesdales. However, all of that apparent stockiness is actually pure muscle. In fact, it would be very difficult to intentionally make Percherons fat because a) the amount of muscle they have burns off a lot of fat, and b) even overweight Percherons do not look fat because they are already such a heavy built breed.

Why Percherons Are Thriving When Other Draft Horses Are Fading


The plight of the Clydesdale is that they are no longer being bred as much. It is a similar situation with a lot of draft horses. Ergo, you might be wondering how it is that the Percherons seem to be thriving.

For one, these horses are show horses. They readily work and learn to do just about anything you want them to do. They will pull a carriage and also wagons in rodeos, work well in war reenactment performances, and even jump.

Yes, you read that correctly. They jump. Imagine these heavy draft horses in a jump competition. They have the power to leap from the ground, and they have the height that clears most jump obstacles before they even attempt the jump. In some competitions where the modern Percheron are allowed to compete, the ring crews have to reset the jumps for a higher height before you can take Percherons through the paces. That said, you may want to build a taller fence around your paddock if you choose to buy this Percheron draft horse!

Surprise! Percherons Are at Disney Theme Parks

Because of their very willing nature, versatility, and extremely gentle and calm temperament, it was decided long ago that Percherons would be the chosen horses to pull carriages in Disney theme parks. If you have never been to any of these theme parks, then you would not know that. However, if you get a chance to visit one of these theme parks soon, look for the Percherons pulling the carriages in the Magic Kingdom areas and up and down Main Street.

What You Need to Care for Percherons

They are big, lovable and loving animals. However, Percherons (for obvious reasons!) need a lot of space. If you have a stable now, you will need to create a double stall for each one you buy because they do not like being fenced in crowded or small spaces. Additionally, you will need a lot of open paddock space for them to run and frolic because their size allows them to take these enormous strides that put them from one end of a paddock to another in just a few strides. Avoid injuries and accidents to your Percheron breed by giving them lots of field space and making the fences much higher than you normally would for other breeds of horses.

In terms of feed, they eat what every other horse breed eats, but double or triple the amount. You will spend a lot more money on hay and grain than you have ever spent before. It helps if you can put them in a very grassy paddock or open field where they can graze during the warmer months and help reduce your feed bills. They will also drink significantly more water, so it’s important to have a clean, natural water source in the field or constantly refilled trough with enough water to keep these massive horses hydrated.

And don’t forget that if you go through a breeder go through reputable Percheron breeders.