Palomino Horses: A Question of Colour?
The term Palomino refers more to a colour, or rather a range of colours, than to a certain breed. The term Palomino itself is a Latin word with an original meaning of paleness. Today, the description Palomino horse depicts a golden coated horse with manes and tale of a remarkably lighter colour.
There are several ranges of gold colours and in order to get an official recognition as Palomino, the horses "coating" must fall exactly in a well defined range, going from light cream over blonde to more copper like. The only places where a Palomino may have white markings is below the knee and on the face. Just because of their vigorous and vivacious colours they are very successful as show horses. Both Mr. Ed and Roy Rogers' horse Trigger were Palominos.
Palomino and Genetics
The specific coat colour of the Palomino horse originates from its genetics: they are hybrid horses and have genes from both a chestnut brown and a cream parent. If you want the scientific term for this it is "heterozygous" - meaning that their blended colour comes from both parents' genes.
In plain English this means that the parents of Palomino horses will not always produce Palomino foals. It all depends on which genes are passed on from the parents to the foal. A cream colour producing gene from one parent combined with a chestnut colour producing gene from the other will give a Palomino foal. This does not mean however that the foal will have the exact same colours as its parents. However, even with the aforementioned combination of cream and chestnut genes, some horses come out spotted or dappled or in a array of patterns and although these animals are still extremely beautiful horses, Palomino registries will not list them.
The Famous Registry
Horse enthusiasts will often choose to list their animals in the official registers of their breed. Having your Palomino listed in the registry proves your horses bloodline and also tells a potential buyer the horse is above suspicion. The biggest registry in the United States is the Palomino Horse Breeders of America. They made up a list of over one hundred rules to determine whether or not a horse is a true Palomino.
Frank Rom runs and operates an information site about owning, training and buying horses [http://www.horses-202.com/].
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