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15 Spotted Horse Breeds You Should Know

By Alex Verwest


Updated on

There are plenty of amazing horse breeds out there that stand out from the crowd, but if you want one that really leaves an impression for a very long time, you should definitely consider going for a spotted one.

Whenever people think about spotted horses though, they make the mistake of believing that there are only one or two breeds available for them to choose from.

In reality, there are actually quite a handful of them that you can look through, before you need to make your final decision.

As such, in this article we decided to cover the 15 most popular spotted horse breeds that you should definitely know of by now.

But before we can actually start diving directly into the breeds themselves, how about take this time to further understand what makes these breeds so special in the first place:

Different Spotting Patterns

Different Spotting Patterns
Photo by Leonie Schoppema / pixabay.com

Interestingly enough, the genes that cause the spotting of the coat to appear can be found on any base coat color out there, as long as it is combined with any dilution gene whatsoever.

As such, amongst the most popular coat patterns out there we have:

  • The Leopard Complex
  • The Sabino Pattern
  • The Splashed White Gene
  • The Tobiano Gene

The first of these is the Leopard complex, with the most popular horse breed sporting it being the Appaloosa horse breed.

This is also the most commonly found spotted pattern though, and it can easily be discerned from the rest by the fact that it is a white coat pattern with or without pigmented spots.

In simple terms, leopard patterns occur on white base bodies and they cover the rest of it with a spotted blanket.

Leopard-spotted horse
Photo by Josep Monter Martinez / pixabay.com

The second of these is the Sabino pattern which displays white markings on legs, a blazed face and a white roaning of the midsection.

Thirdly we have the Splashed White Gene which results in a very unique looking splashed white horse. The spotting here is spread all across the legs and belly and the horses typically also have blue eyes too.

Last but not least we have the Tobiano Spotted Gene which features different blotches of white right in between the horse’s ears and tail. These spots are known for being symmetrical and the horses typically have a colored head too.

Many people actually make the mistake of believing that the mere idea of spotted horses was manmade, when it fact we have discovered ancient cave paintings which say otherwise.

It is believed that spotted horses have existed for as long as 4,000 BC, although there are also a ton of theories that claim that spotted horses existed for well over 25,000 years or so.

Overall, the one thing that we need to know is that spotted horses are very reliable and hardy, since they’ve been around us for so many thousands of years and they went through all sorts of changes to adapt to their new environments.

So, without further ado, let’s just hop right into the 15 most popular spotted horse breeds that you are sure to love the moment you lay your eyes on one.

1. Icelandic Horse

Spotted Icelandic Horse

While they are technically referred to as horses, this breed is actually way closer to a pony when it comes to its overall size.

One thing that you should never do though is you should never underestimate the Icelandic horses, since they are especially hardy, being invulnerable to a lot of diseases that can take out horses twice their size.

While Icelandic horses can have most any coat patterns out there, their spotted patterns are especially sought after due to how jaw dropping it looks on their miniature bodies.

2. Walkaloosa


While many people don’t consider the Walkaloosa horse breed to actually count as its very own pick, it is actually unique enough in our book to earn its spot on our list.

Walkaloosa horses are pretty much just any gaited horse with an Appaloosa coloring, yes, but what makes the Walkaloosa special over any other breed out there is the fact that their gaits are especially smooth, making this breed one of the top choices for people that like to ride all day long.

While Walkaloosas aren’t actually allowed in the Appaloosa Horse Club, they are amazing enough to be worth a second glance, so if your breeder does happen to have their hands on one, we highly recommend you check it out for yourself.

3. Appaloosa

Photo by Sven Lachmann / Pixabay.com

You all knew that it was coming, the Appaloosa horse breed is by far the most popular spotted horse breed out there so it’s no wonder that it made its way on this list too.

While the horse breed also features more than a handful of different coat patterns, let’s just say that the Leopard and Blanket Appaloosas reign supreme simply because of how unique and beautiful they are.

The Leopard Appaloosa can be seen sporting a ton of different spots all across the horse’s body alongside its white base, while the Blanket variant has a darker color coat instead.

An interesting feature of the Blanket Appaloosa can be spotted though in the back as this is where a large white area can be seen.

Another amazing feature that is unique to the Appaloosa is that the horse’s spots might also have a “halo” circling around them, which again makes this horse breed incredible to say the least.

4. Knabstrupper


This absolutely gorgeous horse breed originates directly from Denmark, where it became a sort of staple of the country due to how unique its spotted pattern is.

This breed features a pale sclera, and on top of that, these horses can end up having striped or light-colored hooves too.

What makes Knabstruppers so great though is the fact that they are not just for shows; they are also extremely athletic, making this breed one of the fan favorites for races these days.

As such, today you can find your very own Knabstrupper around every corner, with this being, alongside the Appaloosa, one of the top spotted horse breeds your money could get you.

5. Colorado Ranger

Colorado Rangers

As the name implies, this horse breed first made its way from America’s Colorado High Plains, where a team of breeders successfully managed to create the very first Colorado Ranger by mixing and matching Turkish horses.

This breed officially became registered in 1935, with the creation of the Colorado Ranger Horse Association, and around 70 or so years later, a whopping 6,000 horses have been registered.

While it is quite hard to distinguish between a Colorado Ranger and an Appaloosa because they look so alike to one another, the Colorado Rangers are more so used as ranch horses or trail riding while Appaloosas are more so race and dressage horses.

6. Miniature Horse

Spotted Miniature Horses

As you can probably tell from the name alone, Miniature horses are, well, miniature versions of normal horses. As such, you can find pretty much any body type, coat pattern and color on this breed’s representatives.

Every now and then though, you can get lucky and get your hands on a full-leopard or blanket spotted coat too, which are by far the most beautiful and unique ones you could get.

The typical Miniature horse is around 34 to 38 inches tall, and while they may seem like literal ponies, we do have to say that genetically speaking, they have nothing in common with them.

You can also tell from their proportions that they are clearly just smaller versions of regular horses, while ponies have their very own characteristics which make them unique on their own.

7. Marwari Horse

Spotted Marwari Horse

This Indian horse breed made its way to the rest of the world directly from Kathiwari of Rajsthan, and while it may not be as popular as some of the other breeds on this list, it is still a very important breed for the Indian Subcontinent.

Being a medium-sized horse, you can already expect it to be quite quick on its feet, and you’d be right to think so. This breed was used a lot over the years by the locals for its gentle nature and its hard-working personality which allows it to work all day long and not get tired.

You can find this breed in any solid horse color, but by far the most popular of them are the skewbald and the Piebald colors due to how unique they look.

8. American Paint Horse

American Paint

Let’s just say that while the American Paint horse is definitely useful in its own right, that’s not the main reason why someone would get their hands on one.

No, instead, if you wanted to get your hands on a good American Paint Horse you definitely would have done so due to its uniquely colorful coat.

As you can tell from this picture, this breed features large patches of color in a pinto pattern, but what’s interesting about it is that some solid-colored horses are also registered right now due to their bloodlines.

For the most part, American Paint Horses have darker coats, although every now and then you will also see one that is chestnut colored with a ton of white spots running across its body.

Interestingly enough though, while this breed can have most coat patterns out there, the one pattern that it can never have is the leopard one.

9. Pony of the Americas

Pony of the Americas

This horse breed originates directly from Iowa, where a team of breeders managed to come across this unique splice after mixing and matching the genes of the Appaloosa, the Arabian and the Shetland pony.

While not all of the Ponies of the Americas are spotted though, we can safely say that a great majority of them are, with them featuring the leopard, blanket and snowflake patterns for the most part.

This breed was originally bred for Western riding, although over the years, farmers have realized just how useful they can be for a lot of other tasks.

Nowadays, the Pony of the Americas can be found taking part in more than a handful of disciplines out there, with the most popular being endurance riding and even driving.

10. Mustang

Photo by Klaus Stebani / Pixabay.com

A lot of people actually make the mistake of believing that Mustangs are wild horses, when they really aren’t. In fact, Mustang horses are technically considered to be the direct descendants of the domesticated Spanish horses that managed to escape their confinement and become feral again.

Interestingly enough though, Mustangs can also come in all sorts of different colors and patterns, out of which of course, there are also a handful of spotted patterned ones too.

You can instantly see the same genes that the Appaloosa has when it comes to these representatives, although the Mustang horses are a lot smaller than them, barely reaching the size of 14 to 16 hands each.

11. British Spotted Pony

British Spotted Pony

The name itself is a dead giveaway of the fact that this horse breed features a very distinct dotty pattern across its body.

While it got originally registered back in 1947, it is believed to have been around for many centuries by now, roaming around the plains of England way back in the day.

This horse breed is unique in that it can come in all sorts of different spotted patterns, including the leopard, the near-leopard, the snowflake, the blanket and of course, the mottled type.

You may think that this means that you will have higher chances of ending up with a spotted foal, but this may not always be the case as spotted horses can always produce a non-spotted foal.

12. Pintaloosa


Pintaloosa horses are just downright stunning to look at, and that’s a fact. This horse breed is always an absolute treat for our eyes, since it features a combination of both the Painted Horse’s Tobiano coat pattern and of course, the small unique white spots that most Appaloosas have.

This combination between an Appaloosa and a painted horse may seem a bit strange for the uninitiated, but the results speak for themselves as this horse breed may very well be one of the most beautiful ones we’ve ever see.

13. Nez Perce Horse

Nez Perce Horse

The name itself of the Nez Perce horse comes directly from the North American tribe which created it back in 1994.

The main mission of this team of breeders was to bring back the traditional horse culture by giving birth to a more modern version of the Appaloosa horse.

While the breed itself was a success on the open market though, very few people know of its original purpose these days.

In order to get this unique horse breed though, the Nez Perce tribe ended up splicing the Appaloosa with the Akhal-Teke horse breed, which is where the horse’s unique metallic-sheened coat comes from.

Nowadays, the Nez Perce horse is mostly used for long-distance riding, although it can also be quite amazing at jumping events too, and due to how hardy they are they also make for great pets for beginner riders.

14. Tiger Horse

Spotted Tiger Horse

You may expect the Tiger Horse to have a striped coat pattern, but you’d be mistaken as this breed is in fact, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful spotted horse breeds out there right now.

While no one knows exactly where this horse breed came from, many experts believe that it came about after the breeders spliced the Spanish Jennet with the Chinese Soulon horse breeds.

Regardless, this horse breed is quite hard to come by since it is still under development, with the TIGRE association working tirelessly to make sure that they can implement more desirable characteristics into this horse breed.

15. Noriker

Spotted Noriker horse
Triple R Horse Rescue / facebook.com

The Noriker horse breed used to be known as the Pinzgauer back in the day, and it was by far one of the most popular draft horse breeds in Austria.

It was the top choice in anything agriculture related, with it pretty much becoming a staple of the country’s identity between the First and Second World Wars.

Their numbers have definitely dwindled down since then though, mostly due to the mechanization of farming.

Right now though, this horse breed has pretty much made a successful comeback, with over 10,000 of them being in Austria alone.

While not all of them are striped, more than a handful of them are, and these few are known for having leopard-type patterns which sell very well on the open market.


Spotted Horse Breeds
Photo by Helga / stock.adobe.com

As you can probably tell by now, each and every one of these horses is absolutely stunning to look at, and while some are more popular than others, getting your hands on any of them is sure to be worth the paycheck no matter what.

Just keep in mind that actually getting a spotted horse can be quite a hassle unless you pay extra at your local breeder to make sure that you get the right genes to facilitate these features in the first place.

With all that being said though, thank you for reading this far and we hope that you discovered something new today.

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About Alex Verwest

Alex is an equestrian consultant who has co-founded several successful start-up companies and worked with various international equestrian businesses. Using his experience and connections in this field, he loves to introduce readers to many outstanding small equestrian brands, sharing stories about equestrian lifestyle and trends. Learn more about Seriously Equestrian's Editorial Process.

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