The Palomino is not a breed. Palomino refers to horses with a golden coat, white mane, white tail, and other white markings. Palominos are found in many horse breeds such as the Quarter Horse, Paint, Morgan, Tennesse Walker, and Thoroughbred. In the past, Palominos were associated with royalty and high social status.
Many people are in awe when they encounter the Palomino horse, and rightfully so. The Palomino’s ivory manes and tails in contrast to their golden coat are simply breathtaking.
Genetics determining a horse’s coat color plays a large role in determining whether a horse is a Palomino or not.
In this article, we will be explaining all that you want to know about the Palomino horse.
What is a Palomino Horse?
There are specific coat and mane color requirements in order for a horse to be considered a Palomino.
Here are the Palomino coloring requirements according to the Palomino Horse Breeders of America.
- A golden coat (around the color of a gold coin is considered ideal)
- A white or ivory mane and tail (only 25% of mane and tail hairs are allowed to be colors other than white)
- They must not have a brown/black dorsal stripe or any spots/patches along the body and neck
- They can have blue, hazel, black, or brown eyes
- They must adhere to their specific breed’s other standards
In addition to these requirements, Palominos must have a copy of the specific cream dilution gene.
This is important because some horses appear to be similar to the Palomino, but they cannot be classified as a true Palomino due to other genes contributing to their coat and mane colorations.
We will go into more detail about this later on in this article so keep reading!
History of The Palomino Horse
Palomino horses have fascinated people for thousands of years. As a result, these horses have an extremely rich and vast history.
This color of horse is ancient, and as a result, the origins of the Palomino horse are unclear.
The Golden Horse
There are many myths and legends about the Palomino horse. Some even suggest a connection with them to ancient Greek mythology.
It has even been reported that these ‘golden horses’ were used by soldiers during the Crusades.
However, it is within somewhat more recent history that Palomino horses have really made their mark.
The Queen Horse
Queen Isabella of Spain was famously enamored with the beautiful Palomino horse. She not only had Palominos of her own but she also encouraged their breeding.
This not only boosted their popularity throughout Spain but also Spain’s newly acquired territories in South America. The Palomino is the Horse of the Queen!
In fact, Palominos are often called Isabellas in South American countries to this day because they were brought to the new world by the Spanish.
Along with South America, Palominos were brought to North America as well, specifically Mexico and the southwestern United States.
The increase of horses in North America led to them being captured and tamed by various Native American tribes.
The introduction of these horses altered the culture of many different Native American tribes forever.
Many different horse breeds can technically be a Palomino if they have the correct physical description and genetics of one.
Although the most often seen Palominos are Quarter Horses, many different horse breeds carry the Palomino genes.
The most common horse breeds that produce Palominos include the following.
- Quarter Horses
- Tennessee Walking Horses
- American Saddlebred Horses
- Paint Horses
- Thoroughbred Horses
- Morgan Horses
- Fox Trotter Horses
These horses have one allele cream dilution gene and one allele for the normal chestnut base coat in their genetics.
This is responsible for Palominos having a golden coat, white mane, and white tail.
Although some genes like the champagne and pearl genes can make a horse appear similar to a Palomino, they technically are not due to their genetic differences.
Breeds that Cannot be a Palomino
Horses that cannot genetically produce Palominos include the following breeds of horses.
- Arabian horses
- Lipizzan horses
- Andalusian horses
When it comes to breeding for Palomino horses, there are some important genetic factors involved.
According to the National Library of Medicine, having one copy of the “cream dilution gene” on chromosome 21 is responsible for creating palominos in certain horse breeds.
However, there also needs to be one copy of a normal chestnut or sorrel base coat color gene in order for the horse to be a Palomino.
Two copies of the normal chestnut alleles will create a horse with a chestnut coat.
Meanwhile, if you have a horse with two copies of the cream dilution gene then you produce a cremello version of a chestnut horse.
What is a Cremello Horse?
Cremello horses are very rare however, it is not a breed. Much like the Palomino, Cremello is a color of horse that can be found in many breeds.
They have a rich cream color, pink skin, and a white tail and mane. Add in blue eyes and Cremello horses look like something out of a mystical fairytale!
Carmello horses appear much lighter than traditional Palominos, and they also have light blue eyes.
As a result of the specific cream dilution gene needed, not all horse breeds are capable of creating true Palomino horses.
This is because a few breeds do not have the cream dilution gene within their genetics.
It is important to note that many people misinterpreted flaxen chestnut Arabian horses for Palominos due to their physical similarities. This type of Arabian horse is not genetically a Palomino.
In addition, combinations of both the pearl and champagne genes can also make a horse appear to be a Palomino as these are diluting coat color genes as well.
However, horses with these genetics are not true Palominos either due to their lack of the cream dilution gene.
We will explain these horses’ genetic differences to Palominos in more detail later in this article.
Types of Palomino Horses
Palomino horses must have one copy of the cream dilution gene and appear to have a gold coat with a white mane and tail.
However, there are some slight coat variations that can occur within the Palomino horse group. These variations are called:
- Light Palomino
- Golden Palomino
- Chocolate Palomino
Due to their rich golden color, golden Palominos are technically the ideal type when it comes to coat color.
However, chocolate Palominos are still true Palominos despite their slightly darker colorations. The same is true for light Palominos even though they have a lighter, pale golden color.
There are some other variations that appear to be similar to the true Palomino horse types, but they are genetically different. These include the pearl and champagne Palomino variations.
To create a champagne Palomino, both the chestnut and champagne genes are present.
These genes make champagne Palomino horses have a rich, golden coat even though they lack the cream dilution gene.
This is especially true when they are exhibiting their lighter summer coats.
However, this large genetic difference does make it so that champagne Palominos are not true Palominos.
Similarly, pearls have a similar appearance to true Palominos. However, a pearl horse has different genetics than a Palomino horse.
These horses carry one pearl gene and one gene for a normal red coat. Pearls are typically very light in color. They also tend to have blue or light-colored eyes.
The Palomino’s legacy is wide and varied. They even made their way onto American television screens in a big way!
Who is Mr. Ed?
The famous horse character, Mr. Ed held seven seasons of his own television show from the years 1961 to1966. As a result, this Palomino found its way into the hearts of many.
In addition to Mr. Ed, the famous Palomino Trigger was also featured in many western films along with his owner and fellow co-star Roy Rogers.
His film and television career lasted from 1938 to the 1950s. This Palomino horse was so famous that he even became the star of his own comic book from Dell Comics.
Legacy of the Palomino Horse
Palominos continue to break records and win high achievements in many areas today. Horse races, horse shows, and more continue to recognize the Palomino for their talent and beauty.
If you are interested in more examples of famous Palomino horses and more information on this horse’s history, check out the International Museum of the Horse’s virtual exhibit on the Palomino.
Related Palomino Questions
There are many additional things that people should know about the Palomino horse. These include both some general care instructions and some fun facts.
How Long do Palomino Horses Live?
Palomino’s life expectancy is usually between 25 to 30 years.
Although this is true of most types of horses, Palominos tend to be fairly healthy when bred carefully and cared for properly.
The Palomino’s specific care requirements depend entirely on what breed of horse they are.
Do Palominos Have Special Grooming Requirements?
Palominos have the same grooming requirement as the average horse does. A good rule to follow is grooming at least once a day.
Doing this will keep your horse clean, healthy, and it will maintain its shiny coat.
You can find out more information on how to safely groom your horse at the National Ag Safety Database.
Is Palomino a Breed or a Color?
Palomino is a color, not a horse breed. Palominos can be found in
Can Palomino Coat Colors Change?
There are several things that can change a Palomino’s coat color. These include a horse’s age, diet, and even the season.
It is normal for a horse’s coat to change color as it grows from a foal into an adult. Similarly, a horse’s diet could influence its coat color as well.
This is especially true when a Palomino has a high protein diet or a diet high in specific vitamins and minerals.
Most horses have both a winter and summer coat. Usually, the winter coat is thicker and longer and the summer coat is very short.
This can make them appear starkly different during different times of the year.
What are Palominos Used For?
Palominos are beautiful horses and as a result, they have become popular in many different areas. They have also become popular pets amongst horse lovers.
Known to be very easy-going and trainable along with their stunning good looks, these horses have been widely used in television, movies, circuses, and horse riding shows.
Palominos are also great for trail riding and just plain old pleasure riding. Notably, the American Quarter horse and the Tennessee Walking horse Palominos are the most ridable.
In addition to all of this, many Palominos have been very successful in horse racing competitions making them popular for both seasoned racers and novice horseback riders.
Is a Haflinger Horse a Palomino?
No, Haflinger horses are a breed. Palomino is a color. It just so happens that Halflinger horses have a very similar chestnut and white/cream color markings as Palominos.
What Does the Word Palomino Mean?
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of the word palomino means “a horse that is pale cream to gold in color and has a flaxen or white mane and tail.”
Palomino Horse Names
Palominos are beautiful horses deserving of a great name! Here is a list of some good Palomino horse names.
Due to both their beauty and versatility, Palominos are wonderful pets, successful racehorses, great horse show performers, and awesome trail riders.
Palominos are created by combining one allele of the cream dilution gene on top of a normal one for a chestnut base coat.
There are many different breeds of horses that can produce a Palomino. However, Quarter Horses are the most common breed for Palominos.
Palominos have a rich and ancient history. They have greatly impacted the history of Spain and many of the Native American cultures of North America.
Learn more about the great Palomino horse at the Palomino Horse Association website.