What Is A Palomino Horse? (And What Does It Look Like)?

You might have seen palomino horses once in your life, whether on TV, horse shows, competitions, or at a friend’s stable, but you may not know its breed, color, or characteristics. And if we’re not wrong, all this curiosity is what brought you to this post today. 

In this guide, we’ll discuss: 

  • What exactly is a Palomino horse?
  • What does a Palomino look like?
  • What are Palominos used for?
  • Facts that make Palomino stand out from other horses

Let’s get going.

What Is A Palomino Horse? 

Palomino is a color and not a breed of horse. Any horse can be a palomino by getting a color gene that gives it a golden coat and a cream-colored mane and tail. 

As a result, any horse breed can develop a palomino, be it Arabian, Quarterhorse, or Morgan. 

It’s all in the genes. (You can learn more about them in this article.)

If a horse gets a chestnut base coat gene and a diluted cream gene, it can have a golden color coat. The diluted gene lightens or dilutes the golden coat, but if the same gene is present in excess – such as two cream genes – it will produce Cremello and Perlino horses. 

The diluted gene is present in various horse breeds but is more common in ponies and American stock breeds. Some horse breeds resemble palominos in appearance, like Arabian chestnuts, but they aren’t, and nor do they contain any diluted gene. 

Overall Palomino Appearance – What Do They Look Like?

With a glistering golden base and beautiful blonde mane, palominos the “barbie” horses have hazel, brown, or black eye color

Moreover, to be registered as a Palomino, the horse has to be of a certain height of 14 to 17 hands tall (horses are measured in hands, one is equal to four inches).

Though you can easily distinguish palominos, they have varying colors.

Interestingly, palominos exist in different skin shades ranging from creamy, brassy, pale gold to deep gold. But, you will also see some breeds with whitetails and mane with dark strands of hair in them. Otherwise, almost all palominos have milky white mane and tails.

Fun Fact: palominos with light-colored skin undercoats stay gold throughout the year, whereas ones with darker undercoats turn white in the winter.

5 Palomino Colors & Types

There are four true skin colors of palominos:

  • Light
  • Golden
  • Chocolate
  • Pearl

Then there is also a “champagne” colored palomino, but it’s not considered a true palomino. 

1. Light Palominos

The light palominos have a sandy or buttercream-colored body with a white mane and tail. Their foal has a cream color – meaning it’s even lighter – and looks like a Cremello horse. You can differentiate between the two horses through their skin color pigmentation, which is pink for Ceremello and brown for light palomino.

Like we mentioned before, the change in skin color pigmentation of two horses is because the Ceremello carries two creamy dilution genes while the palomino carries only one. Unlike others, light palominos do not express their sheer genes. 

2. Golden Palominos

Palominos with gold coin color coats and stark white manes are more recognized and desired horses. Usually, during winters, their dark yellow gets lighter as it grows quite long.

3. Chocolate Palominos

The chocolate-colored palominos are highly rare. To produce them, pair a palomino with a live chestnut. You can classify a horse as chocolate palomino if it has a dark, almost brown-colored coat with some black or brown strands of hairs in white mane and tail.

4. Pearl Palominos

Again, the pearl-colored palominos are quite rare too. They have super-shiny cream-colored coats with blue or green eyes. Horse breeds like Lusitano and Andalusian commonly produce Pearl Palominos.

5. Champagne Palomino

Despite their looks, the champagnes aren’t considered true palominos. They have a chestnut gene and a champagne gene, where the latter dilutes the red color of the former and makes the horse shiny golden, resembling a palomino.

But this doesn’t make them a palomino anyway. Palominos have a brown skin color and navy-blue eyes, whereas champagnes have pink skin and bright blue eyes.

What Is The Palomino Horse Used For?

People use palominos for many purposes, such as racing, ranching, trail rides, pleasure rides, and all other equine activities, due to their ability to work long and hard. Palominos are beauties-with-brains: besides their head-turning charm, they are highly intelligent, enduring, active, alert, and hard working.

Top 3 Interesting Facts About Palominos

Apart from being an impressive sight, horses are playable and energetic. But different horse breeds have different characteristics and behaviors that make them distinct from others.

Similarly, palominos have some unique traits and facts that set them apart from the rest. Their unique personalities have made them a royal and a luxury breed since ancient times. 

Let’s look at the top 3 interesting facts about palominos!

Palominos Were Queen Isabella’s Horses

Queen Isabella of Spain loved palominos and owned 100 of them that she kept at her residence. During her monarchy, she disallowed ordinary people to own a golden horse. Only the members of the royal family and a few other nobles were allowed to ride a palomino horse. 

Palominos Were Used In Crusades

For centuries these gold coin coat horses have been admired for their beauty and gorgeous looks. However, they are also considered an ideal mount for battles. Besides the fact they look impressive riding into battle, they are also strong, fast, and easy to train.

Palominos’ Diet Changes Their Color

Another impressive fact about Palominos is the change in coat colors—the change in coat coloring is based on different factors like season or change in diet.

If you change a Palomino horses’ diet and give them food high or low in protein and minerals, their coat color becomes darker or lighter. For instance, if you give a palomino low protein hay or grain, their coat color lightens in tone

Besides, the coat color of Palominos also changes based on changes in seasons. 

FAQs About Palomino Horses

Here are some frequently asked questions about Palomino horses.

Are palomino horses expensive?

Typically not but there are expensive palominos too, not because of their color alone. The price of Palominos varies depending upon different primary factors such as breed (as they are not a horse breed), conformation, pedigree, and talent (based on the way they are trained). 

Are palominos born palomino?

Palomino foals are born with either pink or dark color skin close to the adult golden palomino. They may also have cream-colored skin, and they continue changing their color until they reach maturity. Likewise, the foal has blue-gray eyes that turn amber or brown as the foal matures.

Where does the palomino name come from?

The name Palomino comes from the Italian language, and is a derivative of the word “Paloma Bella”, which translates to “rock pigeon”.
Alternatively, it’s also said to be derived from Spanish words “Paloma Joven” which translates to “young dove”. This version, however, seems to be truer because of this horse’s affiliation with the Spanish Queen, Isabella of Castile in the 1500s.

Are palomino horses gentle?

Palominos are named such based on their color and not their breed. Since any breed can have a palomino, it’s hard to classify their temperament. Their traits depend on what breed they belong to – they can vary from aggressiveness to meek.

How rare is a palomino horse?

Palominos are not rare horse types anymore. Although they were once only reserved for royalty because of their rarity, times have changed. Now, due to years of interbreeding and advancement in modern genetics, you can widely spot them in equestrian activities and on the race track and ranches. Different horse breeds can easily produce coat colors like the palomino.

By now, you already know what a Palomino is and how they look, more like any other horse rider. A palomino coat ranges from golden to yellow with a white or silver mane and tail.

To produce this horse color, you need to look for two genes: a chestnut base gene and a cream dilution gene. Remember, any horse breed like Morgan can be a palomino if they have one copy of the cream gene. 

Again, palominos are beauties with brains, based on the breed they belong to – they have visually appealing looks, and can be the smart horses all equestrians love!

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