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Use and characteristics of the Pinto
Horses with pinto colouring come in all shapes, sizes and breeds. Whether a horse exhibits pinto colouring is all down to the genes. The distribution of unpigmented (white) patches and pigmented (coloured) patches depends on a specific genetic mutation. In certain rare cases, breeding from two parents with pinto markings can lead to problems, but most pinto coloured horses are healthy and active. In the UK, people who sell a pinto use the terms skewbald (for brown, or chestnut, and white horses) and piebald (for black and white animals). In Britain, the word “coloured”, as in “a coloured cob” is a general term to describe horses with pinto markings of any colour. In the USA, the terms overo, tobiano and tovero are used to describe various forms of coat patterning. “Spotted” or “spotted coloured” are other terms used in America when people are creating descriptions to sell a pinto. However, in Britain and other countries, “spotted” is confined to animals with spots such as Appaloosas and British Spotted horses and ponies.
Origin and history of breeding Pinto horses
Horses with pinto colouring have certainly existed for thousands of years, and anyone choosing to buy a pinto is in very good company! Two of the earliest examples can be seen in the tomb of Menna, who lived in Egypt some 3,300 years ago. They were a very flashy pair of chariot horses with spectacular chestnut and white markings. Persian rulers were clearly fond of the colouring as well, as pinto coloured horses in both black and white and brown and white patterns appear in Persian paintings. The first pinto coloured horses probably arrived in America with the Spanish conquistadors but pintos have gone in and out of fashion over the years. Examples of pinto coloured Lippizaners can be seen in 16th and 17th-century paintings, but then they disappear from history. At other times, people have shown a preference for solid coat colours and have shunned horses with gorgeous pinto colouring. Some cultures, however, such as native Americans and Romany people, have always admired and revered pintos as special animals, sometimes seeing them as symbols of fortune and success.
Pinto horses in equestrianism
Since pinto colouring is found in so many different types of horse, there’s really nothing they can’t do! They have always been a superb choice for displays, films, TV and equestrian shows. The American Paint Horse Association, an international colour breed registry for pinto horses with specified stock horse and Thoroughbred ancestry, has one of the largest followings in the world. It’s proof that thousands of equestrians love quality horses with pinto colouring.