All About the American Paint Horse

paint horse picture

The Paint Horse is a breed that originated in the United States and was developed from both American Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds. The Paint Horse combines the versatility of the quarter horse with the agility of the thoroughbred. It has become an increasingly popular choice among equine enthusiasts looking for a reliable, attractive and agile mount.


Paint horses are one of the most popular breeds in the United States. They are a mix between two or more separate bloodlines, usually an American breed and a European breed such as Thoroughbreds or Arabians. The American Paint Horse Association (APHA) was established in 1962 to record the pedigrees of such horses.

Physical Characteristics

Paint horses possess a well-balanced body, deep chest, strong, powerful hindquarters, and a muscular neck and shoulder area. Their coloring is usually made up of two or more colors on their coat, most commonly white and brown or black. 


Mature Paints can reach a height of about 14-16 hands (56-64 inches) and weigh 950 to 1,200 lbs.

Life Span

Paint horses typically live for about 25-30 years but can sometimes live longer, depending on their health and lifestyle.


Paint horses are known to be extremely intelligent, eager to please, and highly trainable. They are easy-going in nature yet can still remain alert and sensible.

Colors and patterns

Paint horses come in a variety of colors and patterns such as tobiano, overo, splashed white, tovero and solid.

  • Tobianos are the most common Paint horse body type; they have dark markings on a white or light-colored coat with two different colored eyes. 
  • Overos usually have large patches of color along with white markings. 
  • Splashed white horses are almost completely white with dark patches of color. 
  • Toveros have a combination of both tobiano and overo patterns.
  • Sabino horses are also a type of Paint horse, but they have white markings on their legs, face and/or body.


Paint horses are often used for western riding disciplines such as pleasure, barrel racing, reining, jumping in the stadium, roping, and cross-country events. They are also used for English riding disciplines such as show hunting, dressage and eventing. They have especially good temperaments, making them ideal for horse shows, working cattle and trail rides. 

How Much do Paint Horses Cost?

The price of a Paint horse depends on its bloodlines, training and age. Prices for horses range from $1,000 for an untrained weanling to $5,000 for a trained show horse. Prospects with good bloodlines can fetch prices in the mid-thousands, while older finished show horses will usually cost more.

Genetic Problems

Paint Horses are generally considered to be healthy animals, however, there are a few genetic issues that can affect them. These include equine polysaccharide storage myopathy (EPSM), which is an inherited condition that causes muscle pain and stiffness; as well as HERDA, or hereditary equine regional dermal asthenia, which is an inherited skin disorder that can cause painful lesions. In addition, some Paint Horses are prone to conformation faults, such as bowed tendons and splint bones.

Lethal white syndrome (LWS) is another condition that affects some Paint Horses. This is an inherited genetic disorder characterized by the absence of pigment in the skin and hair, which can lead to the death of affected foals at birth or shortly thereafter.

It should be noted that the American Paint Horse Association has a stringent breeding program in place that requires horses used for breeding to have been tested and certified free of heritable conditions.

Regular Expenses

The cost of owning a horse varies depending on the owner’s lifestyle and care program. Feed, veterinary and farrier bills can add up quickly for any horse. Paint horses are generally healthy and sound, but owners should plan to budget for regular visits from the vet and farrier. Additionally, tack costs such as saddles, bridles, blankets, and other riding equipment should be taken into account. Boarding can also be expensive, depending on your location. However, for those who enjoy trail riding or aren’t able to keep their horse at home, boarding is a necessary expense.

  • Boarding – Boarding can range from around $200 to $600 a month, depending on the level of care.
  • Feeding – Feeding a Paint horse can cost around $70-$180 a month, depending on the type of feed and how much hay is needed.
  • Veterinary Care – Routine vet check-ups cost around $50-$100. Additionally, vaccines, deworming, and other treatments may be necessary to keep your horse healthy.
  • Farrier Care – Shoes or trimming every six weeks usually costs between $150 and $350 per visit.


What is a Paint Horse known for?

Paint Horses are known for their flashy markings and gentle dispositions, which make them great family horses. They are also noted for their intelligence, agility, speed and stamina.

How many paint horses are there in the world?

According to the American Paint Horse Association, there are around 100,000 registered Paint Horses in the world.

How fast is a paint horse?

Paint Horses are extremely fast and can reach speeds of up to 60 mph. They are also considered to have good stamina and stay true to their speed over long distances.

Is paint horse a breed or color?

Paint Horse is both a breed and color. It is a breed because of its pedigree and the fact that it has been selectively bred for certain traits, such as intelligence, agility, speed and stamina. Paint Horses are also identified by their flashy markings which come in various colors.

What age do Paint horses stop growing?

By the age of 12 months, piebald horses usually reach 90 percent of their height, and at the age of about five years, they become physically mature and physically complete.

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