One of the
most common color questions I'm asked is, "What is the difference
between a Paint and a Pinto?"
The confusion comes from the fact that both bring to mind horses
with white body markings, and some people use the terms interchangeably.
Basically, a Paint is a breed of horse, and Pinto is a color.
The word "Pinto" means to be spotted-- like the pinto
bean, a pinto horse will have patches of color. But with horses,
it's their base color and white patches without color. It is caused
by color genes that make patches of the skin lack pigment. A lack
of pigment results in pink skin and white hair. But pinto coloration
isn't unique to horses. Cattle, dogs, cats, goats, and even humans
can be pintos.
Piebald is a term used in some fields to describe these patches
of white. It's thought to have been derived from the terms "pie"
as in magpie (a black bird) and "bald" from the bald
eagle. When humans have pinto coloration, the condition is called
piebaldism. It usually appears much like a horse's blaze-- a person
may have lighter skin on the forehead and almost all will have
a little white on the front of their head called a forelock! Surnames
such as Whitlock, Blaylock, and Horlick are often derived from
this pigmentation difference.
in horses is caused by four different "pinto genes":
Tobiano, frame overo, sabino, and splashed white. This is just
an overview so I won't go into the differences, but each creates
a white pattern with certain characteristics. Many different breeds
of horses can be pinto. Tennessee walking horses, Thoroughbreds,
Arabians, Mustangs, Clydesdales, Miniature horses, and even Quarter
Horses can carry these pinto genes and be pinto-colored.
Some pinto horses may have just a little white on their legs and
face, others are your "classic" pinto-- white and dark
spots-- and some can be pure white.
a breed, but there are registries for horses of this color. Like
the Palomino Horse Breeders Association, which registers palomino-colored
horses of different breeds, pinto registries accept various pinto-colored
horses. These are not breed registries, but color registries.
The Pinto Horse Association of America (PtHA) accepts a wide range
of horse and pony breeds for registration, as long as the horses
meet color requirements.
Paint horses, just like Arabians and Quarter Horses, are a unique
breed of horse. Registered Paints are part of the American Paint
Horse Association. One characteristic of many Paint horses are
their pinto coloration, however the registry is based on bloodlines,
not just color. Horses of Paint blood may be registered even if
they have little or no white. Such horses are called "breeding
Quarter Horses or Thoroughbreds that are born with pinto markings
are also allowed in the registry. When you think of a Paint horse,
however, you're usually thinking of one that's pinto colored.
be pintos, and pintos can be Paints, but not all Paints are pintos
and many pintos aren't Paints. If you see a horse with white patches
and you don't know what breed it is, it's safe to call it a Pinto--
no matter what breed it is.