Appaloosa

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The Appaloosa is a horse breed best known for its colorful leopard-spotted coat pattern and other related characteristics. There is a wide range of body types within the breed, stemming from the influence of multiple breeds of horses throughout its history. Each horse's color pattern is genetically the result of various spotting patterns overlaid on top of one of several recognized base coat colors. The color pattern of the Appaloosa is of great interest to those who study equine coat color genetics, as both the coat pattern and several other physical characteristics are linked to the leopard complex mutation (LP), located in the TRPM1 gene on the horse chromosome 1, though the mechanism by which each spotting pattern is generated remains unknown. Appaloosas are prone to develop both Equine Recurrent Uveitis and congenital stationary night blindness; the latter has been linked to the leopard complex.

While domesticated horses with leopard spotting patterns have been depicted in art as far back as Ancient Greece, the Nez Perce people of the United States Pacific Northwest developed the original American breed. Appaloosas were once referred to by white settlers as the "Palouse horse," possibly after the Palouse River, which ran through the heart of Nez Perce country. Gradually, the name evolved into "Appaloosa." The Nez Perce lost most of their horses following the Nez Perce War in 1877 and the breed fell into decline for several decades. However, a small number of dedicated breeders preserved the Appaloosa as a distinct breed until the Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC) was formed as the breed registry in 1938. The modern breed maintains bloodlines tracing to the foundation bloodstock of the registry, but also has a partially open stud book that allows addition of some Thoroughbred, American Quarter Horse and Arabian blood. The registry has endured a number of controversies over the years, including disputes over color registration and use of certain drugs in competition.

Today the Appaloosa is one of the most popular breeds in the United States, and it was named the official state horse of Idaho in 1975. It is best known as a stock horse used in a number of western riding disciplines, but is also a versatile breed with representatives seen in many other types of equestrian activity. Appaloosas have appeared in many movies and one is a mascot for the Florida State Seminoles. The Appaloosa has influenced many other horse breeds, including the Pony of the Americas, the Nez Perce Horse and several gaited horse breeds.

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