Characteristics of Palominos
Since palomino colouring can be found in many breeds and types of horse and pony, individuals of all heights and sizes can be found with golden coats. All have in common the spectacular colouring with contrasting mane and tail. For registration in one of the various international associations, they will usually have dark or hazel eyes, which distinguish them from cremellos and perlinos. Palomino colouring results from the effect of a single dilution gene, whereas the double dilution gene effect results in a cremello, perlino, or smoky black coat colour. Whatever the phenotype of the horse or pony with this colouring, they should have good conformation. They can have white markings below the knee and some white facial markings.
Palominos: The Best Breeds for this Colour
Palomino colouring occurs in many different breeds. One sport horse breed that is particularly famous for its palominos is the Czechoslovakian Kinsky Horse, which produces so many performance horses with this glorious colour that they are known as “the Golden Horse of Bohemia”. In America, palominos can be found in many of the famous breeds, such as Quarter Horses, Morgans, Tennessee Walking Horses, Missouri Fox Trotters and Saddlebreds. Welsh ponies, cobs and Show Ponies also often have this colour, which adds to their presence in the show ring. There is a US association with its own standard for palominos, which views them as riding horses in the range of 14.2 hands high (56.8 inches/144 cm) to 17.00 hands high (68 inches/173 cm). For registration, they can be members of any other breed if they also meet the Association’s colour standards. In Akhal-Tekes, palomino colouring takes on a lustrous metallic gleam.
It seems palominos have always favoured the celebrity lifestyle! The earliest documented horses with this colouring are associated with the sixteenth-century Spanish queen, Isabella, after whom they were originally named “Isabellas”. However, images of horses with this colour date back to centuries earlier. In 1813, Countess Kristina Kinsky-Liechtenstein arrived at the Congress of Vienna on the back of a palomino Kinsky horse. Trigger, belonging to the cowboy star Roy Rogers, is possibly still the most famous palomino in history. In fact, Roy had more than one palomino of this name, and they were all skilled stunt and trick horses. Trigger was just the latest in a tradition of equine movie stars with this colouring. One of the earliest was a beautiful mare called Goldie who appeared with silent movie star Hoot Gibson in the early years of the twentieth century. Smoke, also known as Smoky, was a palomino stallion that appeared in movies in the 1930s. Champion the Wonder Horse, a stunning dark gold palomino, appeared in his own series in the 1950s. In the 1960s, the palomino, Mr Ed, was one of the most famous horses on television. He rose to stardom as the talking horse in a TV sitcom about his life with his hapless owner, Wilbur. Elvis Presley’s favourite horse, among the many he owned and loved, was Rising Sun, a glorious palomino. It’s not hard to see why these horses were so prized by the stars of films and TV. Not only did they look spectacular, but they were also some of the most skilful and impressive performers themselves, true stars in their own right. Today, palominos participate across equestrian disciplines from racing to dressage, as well as in parades and displays.