California Riding Magazine • July, 2008

California Riding Reader WritesWhy Not An Appaloosa?

by Becky Batson

Appaloosas are not for everyone. If you ever think of buying one, I can guarantee you will hear many opinions along with every joke that has ever been thought of. So, if you are trying to decide if an Appaloosa is right for you, here are some things to consider before becoming an Appaloosa owner.

1) Appaloosa owners must have a sense of humor.

Appaloosas have a lot of history and character, which makes them easy for people to make fun of. If you aren’t careful you may actually find your Appaloosa laughing at you, too. The horses themselves can have quite a sense of humor. However, not everyone will appreciate a horse that will pick up a tarp and play “matador” while you are trying to retrieve it. This breed is not for those that take offense easily or can’t laugh at themselves or their horses.

2) Appaloosa owners must be bold.

Appaloosas get you noticed; a judge may not see a horse that blends into the background, but they will see you on your spotted steed. If you do not want to stand out in a crowd or if you prefer to hide from the judge’s view when you compete, then you would not want to own an Appaloosa.

3) Appaloosa owners must be outgoing.

People you have never met will know who you are. It may become common to hear, “Do you ride an Appaloosa? I think I’ve seen you around” from someone you are just being introduced to. This breed is not for those that wish to remain anonymous. A quiet ride on the trail may elicit conversations. People you don’t know may just want to tell you how beautiful your horse is. If you do not like friendly conversation this may not be the breed for you.

4) Appaloosa owners must be intelligent.

Appaloosas are very smart and learn quickly. They have their own mind and will use it in quite imaginative ways if left to their own devices to figure things out. At times you may find yourself wondering which one of you is wiser as you notice the carrots in the tack room are gone again, and your horse is contentedly in his once snapped, wired and latched stall with carrot breath. You may also wonder who is training whom, while you watch your beginner friend ride around on your calm and obedient horse that has always required you to give all your aids absolutely correctly. So, if you prefer a horse that requires no thought this may not be the breed for you.

5) Appaloosa owners must be trustworthy.

Appaloosas will do anything for a person who earns their trust, but they will second guess a thoughtless owner who puts them in a bad situation or gets them hurt. Appaloosas have a memory like an elephant and will remember these experiences throughout their lives until you can prove yourself trustworthy again. This breed does not do well with careless owners.

6) Appaloosa owners must be versatile.

Appaloosas can do well in a variety of disciplines including, but not limited to, dressage, jumping, reining, gymkhana, trail and endurance. Because Appaloosas are smart and learn quickly, they can easily get bored, and you may find yourself trying out other disciplines just to keep you and your horse entertained, not to mention well rounded. If you do not like to learn new things, this may not be the breed for you.

7) Appaloosa owners must like to have fun.

Appaloosas have a good sense of fun and are eager to make their owners happy. How about going on a cattle drive? What about racing with your friends? Will you go to the mountains on a camping trip? Would you like to play in the river? Your Appaloosa is likely to be up for anything you ask him to do.

So, when you are thinking about buying a horse and going over the opinions you have heard about Appaloosas, just ask yourself, “Am I a fun, outgoing, versatile, intelligent, trustworthy, bold person with a sense of humor that wants to be remembered?” If you answered yes, then you should buy an Appaloosa! Why not?

Author Becky Batson lives, rides and raises Appaloosas in the foothills between Northern California’s Placerville and Auburn. She and her Appaloosa mare have enjoyed and competed in various disciplines and are now targeting the Tevis Cup endurance ride. For more information on the breed, visit the Appaloosa Horse Club at