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Pinto Horse
North America

Breed Organization Information

Pinto Horse Association of America, Inc.
7330 NW 23rd Street
Bethany, OK 73008
Tel: (405) 491-0111
Fax: (405) 789-4357

About the Breed

For its contribution to our predecessors dating back as far as history is recorded, the horse has been immortalized in story and song. A key part of civilization, it is also well represented in art. Studies of this art history reveal the early existence of what we recognize today as the Pinto Horse: a horse whose dual-colored coat pattern is comprised of white areas combined with another of the basic coat colors common to horses, making each Pinto unique. The Pinto is a color breed with documentation of pedigree as well as certain restrictions and exclusions that may apply depending on the sex, classification and background of each animal.

Though commonly associated with the Native American for its legendary magical qualities in battle, the Pinto horse was actually introduced to North America by European explorers, chiefly those from Spain, bringing their Barb stock that had been crossed with native European stock years before. It is believed that the Pinto patterns may have arrived in Europe via the Arabian strains, as Pinto markings appear in ancient art throughout the Middle East. However, evidence of the more dominant Tobiano pattern among the wild horses of the Russian Steppes suggests the introduction of Pinto coloring to Europe possibly as early as during the Roman Empire.

After the arrival of these European horses, great wild herds infused with the flashy color patterns we know today began to develop across America, eventually to be domesticated by the Native American. The white man continued to import many of the well-established and stylish European breeds as his foundation stock. Over time, however, with the civilization of the Native American and the white man’s migration to the frontier, it often became necessary to cross these fancy, but less suitable breeds of the Eastern seaboard with the wild mustang stock to increase size and attractiveness as well as availability of a horse better suited to the strenuous working conditions of the day. This Western-bred horse became a fixture of America, especially the uniquely marked Pinto whose colorful presence in parades and films always added a little extra glamour.

Breed Characteristics
One of the most frequently asked question regarding the Pinto is “what is the difference between Pintos and Paints?” Simply put: The Paint Horse (registered by the American Paint Horse Association) is limited to horses of documented and registered Paint, Quarter Horse, or Thoroughbred breeding. The difference in eligibility between the two registries has little to do with color or pattern; only bloodlines. While most Paints can be double registered as Stock or Hunter type Pintos, the Pinto Horse Association (PtHA) also allows for the registration of miniature horses, ponies, and horses derived from other breed crosses, such as Arabian, Morgan, Saddlebred, and Tennessee Walking Horse, to name a few.

The color requirements for a registered Pinto is predicated on the age of the animal at time of application. Only four square inches of cumulative white in the qualifying zone is required to register a horse with the PtHA (only three inches for ponies and two square inches for miniatures.) Animals with insufficient “qualifying color” to be accepted in the regular color division but with at least two or more “Pinto” characteristics or solid colored animals with documented and registered pinto-colored sire and/or dam may be eligible for registration in the Breeding Stock Division.

There are two recognized Pinto color patterns: Tobiano (Toe-bee-ah’-no) and Overo (O-vair’-o). The Tobiano pattern appears to be white with large spots of color, often overlapping on animals with a greater percentage of color than white. Spots of color typically originate from the head, chest, flank, and buttock, often including the tail. Legs are generally white, giving the appearance of a white horse with large or flowing spots of color. Generally, the white crosses the center of the back or topline of the horse. It is considered necessary to have a Tobiano parent to achieve a Tobiano foal. The Overo pattern appears to be a colored horse with jagged white markings usually originating on the animal’s side or belly, spreading toward the neck, tail, legs, and back. The color appears to frame the white spots. Thus, an Overo often has a dark tail, mane, legs, and backline. Bald or white faces often accompany the Overo pattern. Some Overos show white legs along with splashy white markings, seemingly comprised of round, lacy white spots. White almost never crosses the back or topline. A horse of Pinto coloration descendant from two solid colored parents of another typically solid colored pure breed is called a “crop-out” and is of the Overo pattern.

While PtHA accepts animals derived from many different approved breed/registry crosses, it does not accept animals with Appaloosa, Draft or Mule breeding and/or characteristics. Horse stallions must have both sire and dam registered with PtHA or another approved outcross registry. Pony/Miniature stallions must have at least one parent (sire or dam) registered with a recognized breed association [Effective 1-1-99]. Mares and Geldings can be registered on their qualifying color alone. PtHA accepts horses in four different height divisions: “Horse” for animals maturing over 56″ in height at the withers; “Pony” for animals 56″and under, but over 34″; “Miniature” for animals 34″ and under at maturity and “B Miniature” for animals over 34″ but not exceeding 38″ at maturity.

All registered Pinto Horses and Ponies are identified within one of the following four types. Type is determined by the conformation and background of each horse/pony.

The STOCK TYPE Pinto is an animal suitable for western events; hunter seat events; and a variety of other events. The Stock Type Pinto should display the conformation associated with Quarter Horse breeding. Generally, double-registered Paints (APHA) will be registered in this division. This photo to the left indicates conformation traits of the Stock Type and both mare and foal carry the Overo pattern.

The HUNTER TYPE Pinto is an animal suitable for: hunter seat Events; western events; and a variety of other events. The Hunter Type Pinto should display the conformation associated with Thoroughbred, approved warmblood or running Quarter Horse breeding. This photo to the right indicates conformation traits of a Hunter Type with the Tobiano pattern.

The PLEASURE TYPE Pinto is an animal presented in a natural manner and suitable for: general western, English, and driving events; and a variety of other events. The Pleasure Type Pinto should display the conformation associated with Arabian or classic Morgan breeding. This photo to the left indicates conformation traits of a Pleasure Type with the Overo pattern.

The SADDLE TYPE Pinto is an animal suitable for: general English, western, and driving events; and a variety of other events. The Saddle Type Pinto should display the conformation associated with American Saddlebred, Tennessee Walking or Missouri Foxtrotter breeding. The horse in the photo to the right is a representative of the Saddle type and carries a typical Tobiano pattern.

Breed Organization
Officially incorporated in 1956, The Pinto Horse Association of America, Inc. (PtHA) was founded in 1947 to encourage the promotion of “quality with color” horses, ponies, and miniatures as well as establish a registry for maintaining their pedigree and ownership records in a support organization for Pinto enthusiasts.

The PtHA found a permanent home in 2004 when it moved to Bethany, Oklahoma after purchasing a large office building for its international headquarters. The association is continually expanding and improving its operation in an effort to ensure accuracy and maintain a high level of integrity in its consistently growing database. Serving a membership in excess of 12,000 Pinto owners and devotees throughout the world, the registry currently boasts numbers in excess of 125,000, including Pintos and solid colored approved outcross horses used to produce Pinto foals.

In addition to the annual General Membership Convention in the Spring, PtHA also sponsors a number of events during the year at which its members are offered the opportunity to showcase their Pintos and compete against peers in the spirit of good sportsmanship and the common love of the breed. The most significant of these is the World Championship Show held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, offering more than $100,000 in cash and prizes. For ten days in June, this premier event offers a wide variety of classes for the equally wide variety of Pintos competing; from halter classes that celebrate the conformational beauty of the Pinto to performance classes where spectators may witness its versatility in a vast array of driving and riding disciplines.

Other major events organized and offered by the PtHA are the International Futurity/Maturity and Breeder’s Cup Futurity held each Fall in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in conjunction with the Tulsa State Fair. The combined purses from these two 1998 futurities approached $20,000.

The PtHA is the national association sanctioning area charters and horse shows sponsored by these charters throughout the United States and Canada. One of the founding members of the Color Breed Council, the association continues to be an active member in the annual Color Breed Council Judges’ Seminar established in 1989 to educate, test, and approve qualified individuals as accredited judges for PtHA sanctioned shows.

The PtHA awards program includes National and Year-End High Point recognition in all divisions. For those Pintos competing in specialty events or residing in areas where no PtHA approved shows are offered, an Open Competition Activities Program has been implemented.