Prepared from information supplied by the Australian Appaloosa Association
The first registered Appaloosa horses arrived in Australia from California in 1967. Today the Australian Appaloosa Association manages the studbook in Australia and runs the annual national championships, where the best of the breed compete in more than 150 judging classes.
The Appaloosa is arguably one of the oldest horse breeds in the world. Images of horses with spotted coats are seen in cave paintings in France dated to around 18,000BC. Horses with characteristics of the Appaloosa breed are also found in art and records from ancient China, Europe and the Middle East.
Renowned for their beautiful colouring, height, reliability and speed, these horses were often sought as mounts for kings, emperors and cavalry units, and were prized for their courage, tough hooves and endurance.
The Spanish conquistadors took spotted horses to Mexico and South America and most of the Indian population of North America was using such horses by around 1700. The Nez Perce American Indian people of Washington, Oregon and Idaho, whose lands included the Palouse River Valley, undertook breeding programs to create versatile hunting and war horses. The name Appaloosa is derived from the term 'palouse'. After the surrender of the Nez Perce to United States troops in 1877 their horses were sold off and bred indiscriminately, leading to a rapid decline in the Appaloosa breed.
In the late 1930s, the first American Appaloosa Horse Club was founded with the intention of reviving the dwindling horse breed. The Appaloosa horse is now found across the globe.
In 1971, a gathering of 61 Appaloosa breeders and enthusiasts attended a meeting at Nathalia in Victoria. The result of this meeting was the formation of the Appaloosa Association of Australia. The first national Appaloosa show was held at Shepparton, Victoria, in 1973.
A versatile breed, Appaloosa horses can be seen in Australian pony clubs, showjumping and dressage events, in the western ring and out pleasure riding across the country.