The Palomino Horse – A Quick Helpful Guide

Before we get started, let’s go over some fundamental facts about the Palomino Horse:

  • Palomino simply refers to the color and appearance of a horse rather than it’s breed
  • The Palomino color is formed on a ‘red’ based coat if horses have an allele called the cream gene that gives their coat a creamy and golden color

So to summarise, Palomino is a horse of a golden color with a white, silver, or ivory mane and tail.

History and Origin of the Palomino Horse

The Palomino horse is said to have originated in Spain around 1519, at the beginning of the Spanish New World and Cortez’s reign. Although the exact development of these horses is unknown, their origin is rooted in Spain. For centuries, the Palomino horse was bred for its fantastic color and used exclusively for the Royal Family, the noble class, and high military officials. The golden breed of the Palomino horse became a sign of wealth and status, and they were known throughout Spain as “the horse of the queen.” The beauty and athletic abilities of these horses were perfect for the Spanish mission of colonizing the New World and became the faithful companions of Spanish explorers.

As a result, when the United States acquired what is now known as California during the Mexican War in 1848, many Palomino Horse was found in the new territory. In the early days of California, Palominos were extremely popular, and their athletic abilities meant that they were used as racehorses by the rich and powerful. To this day, the Palomino horse and its golden color remain a sign of wealth, glamour, and power.

The Palomino Horse was a powerhouse and wanted throughout the world. However, as horses such as the Thoroughbred began to be imported from Europe, the golden horse was threatened with extinction. Only in recent years has its popularity grown again. To keep the Palomino breed thriving, two associations were put in place: The Palomino Horse Association, which was founded in 1936, and The Palomino Horse Breeders of America, set up in 1941.

Palomino Characteristics

As we have already established what makes the Palomino Horse so distinctive is its unique golden color, BUT what other characteristics and traits do they have?

  • Light-colored mane – either white, silver or ivory. Although, some Palominos are also known to have streaks of chestnut throughout their mane and tail
  • White markings on their face and/or below the knees
  • Hazel eyes
  • 14-16 hands in height
  • Weigh between 1,000-1,200

Adaptation and Use

Palomino horses are incredibly versatile. They do not only make great workhorses but excel in a range of equestrian competitions. The American Horse Shows Association rulebook states that Palomino horses may compete in any one of the following classifications:
• Pleasure horses
• Parade horses
• Stock horses
• All other types such as saddle, fine harness, walking horses, etc.
However, what’s unique about the Palomino horse is that when they compete, their color shall account for at least 25% of any points they acquire. So, they will be judged not only on their performance and skill but on the color of their coat.


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