There's possibly no flashier equine than a white horse with lots of black spots, known as a leopard pattern. They're more than just attractive animals, as they also serve as fine athletes and sport horses. While horses with this coloring are primarily associated with Western riding, they also do well in the English disciplines and in driving.
If you're looking for a black and white coat pattern, with some spotting, a piebald paint can fill the bill. Piebald is the black and white version, while brown and white is skewbald. Also known as pinto, this coloration appears in many breeds. The American Paint Horse Association registers quarter-horse type purebred paints. According to the APHA, "Markings can be any shape or size, and located virtually anywhere on the paint's body. "
Although the appaloosa is identified with the Nez Perce Indians, the breed actually descends from horses brought to the New World by the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s. Like appaloosas with other spotting patterns, leopard appaloosas have mottled skin, striped hooves and white sclera around the eyes. Researchers have linked the gene for the leopard complex on the appaloosa's TRPM1 gene on chromosome 1, according to the Animal Genetics website. The eye problem known as congenital night blindness also is associated with the leopard gene.
Originating in Germany, Knabstruppers are relatively rare in the United States. The first Knabstruppers were imported to North America in 2002. However, it is one of Europe's oldest breed registries, dating from 1812. Since it shares some of the same genes as the appaloosa, many of the breed's color patterns are similar. According to the American Knabstrupper Association, the most popular color pattern is leopard, a solid white background covered with black, brown or chestnut spots.
Pony of the Americas
The Pony of the Americas, similar to the appaloosa, can carry the leopard pattern. Some Pony of the Americas are primarily white with a few black spots. That coat pattern is known as "few-spot leopard." Registered Pony of the Americas range in height from 11.2 to 14 hands, with appaloosa coat colors. Pony of the Americas result from crossing Arabians and Shetland ponies with appaloosas, creating a smaller, more refined version of the appaloosa.
Nez Perce Horse
The Nez Perce registry began in 1995, after members of the tribe started a breeding program crossing Akhal Teke stallions with appaloosa mares. The Akhal Teke, an ancient Asian breed, contributes its legendary endurance to the gene pool. Some Nez Perce horses boast the leopard pattern, along with the coat shine characteristic of the Akhal Teke.
- American Knabstrupper Association: Home
- The Appaloosa Project: What is the Appaloosa Project?
- Animal Genetics: Appaloosa Coat Pattern / Leopard Print/ Congenital Stationary Night Blindness (CSNB)
- American Paint Horse Association: The American Paint Horse
- Pony of the Americas Club: Characteristics
- Nez Perce Horse: What is a Nez Perce Horse?
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.