Color Patterns

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  • Head-markings will be like those of a solid colored horse. Solid, or with a blaze, strip, star or snip.
  • Generally all four legs will be white, at least below the hocks and knees.  
  • Generally, the spots are regular and distinct as ovals or round patterns that extend down over the neck and chest, giving the appearance of a shield.
  • The horse usually will have the dark color on one or both flanks.
  • A tobiano may be either predominantly dark or white.  
  • Looks as though someone stood above and poured white paint over the horses back.  

Tobiano Pattern


  • The white usually will not cross the back of the horse between its withers and tail.
  • Generally, at least one leg, and often all four legs, will be the dark color.
  • Head-markings are often bald-faced, apron-faced, or bonnet-faced.
  • Generally, the white is irregular, rather scattered or splashy, and it is often referred to as calico.
  • The tail is usually one color.
  • An overo horse may be either predominantly dark or white.
  • Looks as though the white paint crawls up the horses side from underneath.  

Overo Pattern


  • Shows some, many or all characteristics of both color patterns.

Tovero Pattern

Tovero Paints (pdf) - The Mystery of Tovero by Frank Holmes - Paint Horse Journal December 1997 • Volume 31, Number 12



  • Minimally-expressed, the sabino pattern manifests itself in the form of white markings on the head and legs on an otherwise solid-colored horse. Their white markings tend to have narrow, pointed extensions up the legs or down the throat.
  • As the sabino pattern progresses, the white markings on the legs get higher, extending up the forearm and chest in the front, and the stifle in the rear. Belly spots appear that are often visible from the side. On the head, the white markings become more extensive, spreading outward over the eyes, and up from the lower lip to the throatlatch. In some instances, the head is completely white, or apron- or bonnet-faced.
  • As the sabino pattern progresses even farther, it becomes more flecked or speckled over the entire body. The belly and the head are often completely white. This phase of the pattern is probably the one most readily identifiable as sabino.
  • Sabinos with sharply-edged, large spots on their sides are sometimes confused with frame overos. Because, as the pattern progresses the white in it extends vertically over the back.
  • Finally, in its maximally-expressed form, the sabino pattern evolves into an extremely white horse.

The Sabino Coat Pattern (pdf) - A LIghter Shade of Red by Rebecca Overton Paint Horse Journal December 1998 • Volume 32, Number 12

Solid or Breeding Stock

In addition to the Regular Registry the APHA has established the Breeding Stock registry for those horses who meet all bloodline requirements but lack sufficient white hair with underlying, unpigmented skin to be included in the Regular Registry.

The Breeding Stock registry was developed so as not to lose the potential offspring of horses eligible by blood to be Paint Horses but how lack the Paint coloring.

Horses registered in the Breeding Stock registry can be shown at APHA approved shows in separate Breeding Stock classes and earn points toward their Register Of Merit (ROM), Superiors, and Championships. All registered Paints, Regular or Breeding Stock can compete in the Outside Competitive Activities Programs (OCAP).


When two Quarter Horse or TB parents produce a foal with excessive white the result is eligible for registry with the APHA as a cropout. Cropouts must meet the minimum color requirement to qualify for regular registry. Stallions and mares that do not meet this requirement may be considered for the Breeding Stock Registry. Cropout geldings are not eligible for the Breeding Stock registry for obvious reasons.  

Quarter Horse cropouts may be eligible for registration with both the AQHA and the APHA (referred to as double registered). However, the horse must meet the color requirements of both registries.  

Two Thoroughbred parents may also produce a cropout foal, but the Jockey Club has no color rule restrictions. Therefore, a foal may be double registered with the APHA and the Jockey Club if it has the minimum amount of color to meet APHA's color rule.

Paint or Pinto

Many times the terms Paint Horse and Pinto Horse are incorrectly used interchangeably. To be eligible for registration with The American Paint Horse Association (APHA) the applicant must be able to prove parentage from one of the three approved registries - APHA, AQHA and TB as well as meet a minimum color requirement.

Any horse (except a horse of draft blood) meeting the color requirements, regardless of it's parentage , can be registered with the Pinto Assoc. While horses can and often are double registered with APHA and the Pinto registry, the two registries are independent.


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