Appaloosa Horse Temperament. Top Experts’ Advices

Last Updated on January 6, 2021

Appaloosa Horse Temperament 

Noticing some unusual spots? Maybe, you’re just seeing an Appaloosa horse for the first time! Appaloosa’s are a breed native to North America that was originally used as a mount for Native Americans.  Today, Appaloosa is known for being a diverse and intelligent breed of horse, used for trail riding, western pleasure, jumping, and more. Let’s talk about Appaloosa horse temperament.  

Thus in this article, I will discuss the Appaloosa horse’s temperament, and how it contributes to activity, training, and other important topics.     

Appaloosa Temperament Qualities 

The Appaloosa horses’ entire temperament is based on their high intelligence levels.  This is because, appaloosas are extremely smart and because of this, they have big personalities.  Like, they are smart enough to know when they can or cannot trust a human. So, it would be very good, if you have a good relationship with your appaloosa, and bad if you don’t.

They know when they are being mistreated, and they know when they are being treated well.  If they can trust the people that surround them, Appaloosas aim to please and have a partnership with their riders.  

Appaloosas are known for being hardworking and loyal to the people they love.  They have fantastic work ethics, and always enjoy their jobs. They can be great children’s horses, and they do their best to look out for their people. 

Learn more fun facts about Appaloosas here: 

How Activities Affect Appaloosas’ Temperament 

Appaloosas, like many horse breeds, thrive on a regular schedule of exercise and turnout.  Given that the breed is athletic and has a lot of energy; they like to be outside for long stretches of time, as they love having jobs too.  

Most horses that live in stalls receive turnout (time in the pasture) for at least four or five hours a day, if not more.  Other than that, some horses live outside year-round. 

An Appaloosas would thrive on either schedule and require time, to be in open space to remain happy and healthy.

Appaloosas also enjoy having a job. They don’t need to be exercised every day and don’t all need to be show horses because they thrive on having something to do. As long as you’re giving your Appaloosas jobs weekly, they will always remain in good spirits.

How Activities Affect Appaloosas’ Temperament 

If Appaloosas do not have adequate turnout time or exercise, they could become irritable, or “sour.”  Remember, Appaloosas are smart. If they know their people aren’t giving them the time and attention that they need, this can affect the relationship between the two.  Appaloosas need something to focus their attention and energy on. With ample turnout time and with a job (even a part-time one), this is not difficult to provide.  

When given proper attention, Appaloosas can excel in nearly all disciplines.  While preferred by western riders for cutting, pleasure, reining and roping, Appaloosas can also excel in English disciplines such as eventing, dressage, and hunter/jumper.  I have personally seen Appaloosas in the hunter ring as noteworthy kids’ horses, as well as Appaloosas in the mountains as trustworthy trail horses.

How to Train Appaloosa Horse Based on Their Temperament 

Training will be different for every horse, but there are certain things that Appaloosa enthusiasts recommend keeping in mind when training these spotted beauties.  Firstly, is their intelligence and wit. Appaloosas are smart, and it will show when they are being trained. They will sometimes do quirky, though rarely dangerous things in order to test their riders.  Often times, the only way to gain their respect in these circumstances is to outsmart them. 


A staple of any horse’s training is groundwork, and Appaloosas are no exception.  Appaloosas are big on trust and respect, and this starts from the ground, not the saddle.  Lounging, in-hand, and liberty work are all ways to establish respect and trust on the ground.  And these things could be crucial in establishing a relationship with an Appaloosa, before getting in the saddle. Groundwork is also important to revisit if a communication issue occurs in the saddle.

Once you have established a positive, respectful relationship with your Appaloosa, it will be easy to finish them, to excel in whichever discipline you wish.  Not only do they have good work ethics and learn extremely quickly, but Appaloosas are also versatile and can be taught a lot of different skills. If you use a watchful eye and gentle technique, an Appaloosa will fit any mold you build for it. 

Is Coloring Linked to Personality with Appaloosas? 

While some believe that there is a connection between an Appaloosa’s color and its personality, perhaps due to some examples of potential correlation, no connection has been scientifically proven.  Of course, if one trainer has better luck with bay blanketed Appaloosas being good for kids, such trainer will probably think it has to do with that color. On the other hand, if another trainer has an ill-luck with dun leopard Appaloosas, such a trainer will likely think that it’s a character trait of that specific color.  Thus, judgment is often objective.

And while some individuals may swear by this, nothing has been proven so far.  It is merely speculation, the same way connecting hair color with personality traits in people is purely speculative.  Some riders and trainers will favor certain coat colors for certain events, but no true correlation can be proven. A chart listing the color variations of Appaloosas is shown below:  

Is Coloring Linked to Personality with Appaloosas? 


The Appaloosa horse’s temperament is important to consider in training, in activity, and in all aspects of horse ownership.  They are very athletic and intelligent horses, and their care must reflect that in order to form a successful partnership.  

Also, Appaloosa’s are versatile and if respected and cared for, can do nearly anything you ask of them.  I hope this article helped you understand Appaloosa in its entirety and gave you an interest in this beautiful breed! Please ask questions and share your Appaloosa stories with us!


Are Appaloosas good for beginners?

Appaloosas are a great breed for beginner horse owners. The breed is known for its willingness to please and extreme owner-bond. Although not considered a “hot” breed, Appaloosas need regular work and stimulation. Not all breeds need the same level of activity. Appaloosas are athletic and intelligent and require daily activity to keep their minds engaged and happy. An Appaloosa denied regular turnout or exercise can quickly sour. Aside from activity requirements, they are a gentle and reliable horse suitable for children and beginners.

Where do appaloosas come from?

Appaloosas, originally referred to as “Palouse” horses, are an American breed. The settlers called them the Palouses, and later Apalouse, based on the Palouse River in Idaho. Like other breeds, the Appaloosa developed from Spanish horses introduced to Mexico in the 1500s. Horses spread to the US northwest territories by 1700. The Appaloosas were ridden by the Nez Perce tribe, who later created large herds and selectively bred to enhance strength, speed, and beauty.

Explorers and settlers were impressed with the breed dating back to the early 1800s, although the breed did not grow in popularity until the early 1900s. In 1938, the Appaloosa Horse Club was created. Known as an Idaho-based horse, Governor Andrus named the Appaloosa the Idaho state horse in 1975. Now, Appaloosas are worldwide!

Are Appaloosa horses fast?

Although not commonly referred to for speed, the Appaloosa is a very fast horse. The Nez Perce bred original Appaloosas for speed. The modern Appaloosa breed has had Quarter Horse bloodlines added, increasing speed and agility. Quarter Horses frequently top 45 mph at a gallop, while the highest speed ever clocked for an Appaloosa is 41 mph. These horses are known more for their overall athleticism rather than speed. They have excelled on tracks, dressage, working for western classes, and trails. Although not common, you may “spot” an Appaloosa on the track against Quarter Horses!

Why do Appaloosas have short tails?

Appaloosas carry a gene that results in their signature spots and sparse manes and tails. The Nex Perce did not only breed for speed- but very specific characteristics. Short tails were far easier to maintain, and long tails could pose a danger if caught in something. While hunting, horses would easily catch tails and tangles on brush or tree limbs. During these times, most horses had tails cut short if they were too thick and long. Although this breeding played a role, there is a gene that causes sparseness. Sparse or short mane and tails are directly connected to the LP gene.

What are Appaloosa horses good for?

Appaloosas are excellent all-around horses. Appaloosas continue to excel in a variety of disciplines, from lower-level jumping, dressage, working cow horse events, and family pets. They were a flashy and popular choice among rodeos in the early 1900s, and are still used in rodeo events today. Their desire to please owners and work hard makes them very competitive horses in any discipline. Both children, new riders, and experienced adults can excel on these outgoing horses full of personality. Although each horse is unique in its temperament and conformation, there isn’t any off-limits discipline for Appaloosas! They are a well-rounded and diverse breed.