What to Know About the Palomino Horse

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on November 29, 2022
5 min read

More than 200 horse breeds can be found worldwide today. While these breeds all have different appearances, some more drastic than others, they belong to the same species, the Equus caballus. Since the beginning, horses have been subjected to selective mating rituals, where people created different breeds by mating two horses with attractive traits. One type of horse is known as the palomino horse. However, palomino horses are not a breed, rather, they’re a distinguished color. 

Palomino horses are used for many purposes today. Some people choose to keep them as pets, while others keep them as show or rodeo horses, using them in jumping competitions and other spectacles. 

As with all horse types, intact male palominos are known as stallions, castrated males are called geldings, and females are known as mares. Juvenile horses are often called foals, with males being regarded as colts and females as fillies.

Palomino horses have been traced back to the Crusades. Due to their beauty and sturdiness, they’ve been a respected choice of horse for many noble leaders. The Spanish Queen Isabella introduced the palomino horse to Mexico, where they were then introduced to what is now known as Texas and the southern United States. 

Once introduced to the United States, these horses were often found in the wild, where Native Americans caught, tamed, and owned these majestic beauties. These horses allowed the Native Americans to hunt and travel more effectively. They also aided the Native Americans in wars, allowing them to travel and navigate war-torn lands more efficiently. 

Palomino horses have been so admired that they are often featured in cultural artifacts, including historical paintings. Because of their reverence, palomino horses are considered to be amongst the best bloodlines, and they hold an international appeal.

Palomino horse color varies between golden, yellow, or cream. Their manes are silver or white. Palomino horses are usually Arabian or American Quarter horses and fall into three categories: draft horses, light horses, and ponies, affecting palomino horse size.

Arabian Palomino Physical Characteristics. Arabian horses live up to their exotic names. They have a striking appearance: a curved face and chiseled head on top of a long, arching neck. Their tail carriage is high and mighty. The Arabian exhibits an energetic and intelligent composure and radiates bravery and dignity. They have a short and straight back, deep chest, a robust rib structure, sturdy and thick legs, and a horizontal pelvic bone. 

When an Arabian horse exhibits palomino colors, it’s often revered as a truly magnificent beauty. 

Arabian Palomino Behavioral Characteristics. The Arabian horse’s trot is proud and elegant. They are popular for various disciplines and events, including endurance competitions. 

Arabian horses are known to be intelligent and have high levels of endurance and stamina. They’re also very loyal to their owners. 

American Quarter Palomino Physical Characteristics. American Quarter horses have a small, refined, and short head, with a straight posture, broad chest, and robust rear legs. They measure to be about 14 to 16 hands long, which is the typical measurement of horses. American Quarter horses have two body types: stocky and racing types.

Stockier bodies are shorter and have defined muscles. They’re more agile than the racing body type, which is taller with flatter muscles. Those with racing bodies are trained for running competitions, such as the quarter-mile sprint. 

American Quarter Palomino Behavioral Characteristics. American Quarter horses are good-tempered and well-behaved horses that can compete in many disciplines. They are particularly known for their speed in races, but they’ve also been known to compete in English and Western shows and are great mounts.

The care you provide your palomino horse with is the standard care most horses receive. 

Palomino Horse Habitat. There are two types of housing to consider when providing your palomino horse with a good habitat: indoor housing and outdoor housing. 

First, it’s important to ensure you provide your horses with adequate space to roam. They’ll need access to daily grazing pastures and the ability to exercise. 

Indoor housing is used for horses that are ridden daily through the colder months. This type of housing typically comes in box stalls. Single-story barns are the perfect indoor housing option. They’re easier and cheaper to build and maintain than other options. Storing hay should be done in a separate box. 

The size of the box stall will depend on the size of your horse. Make sure there’s enough room for your horse to live comfortably. 

Outdoor housing structures are low-cost and less labor-intensive. They’re also relatively low maintenance when it comes to cleaning the building out. Outside housing can come in a three-sided structured building or an open barn. 

Palomino Horse Diet. Horses need to be able to consume and digest small and frequent amounts of food throughout the day. Most horses require a basic diet of good-quality hay and grass. The feed should be free of mold, dust, and other harmful bacteria. 

Horses also need continuous access to fresh water. Water should be unfrozen. In addition to water, horses should be supplied with a salt block or trace mineral.

Wild palomino horses are susceptible to predators, including wolves, mountain lions, and bears. Even tamed horses can fall victim to predators. 

The average palomino horse lifespan, or lifespan for horses in general, is around 20-25 years. However, some palomino horses have lived to be around 30-35 years old. 

Still, horses are susceptible to several diseases and illnesses, including: 

  • Allergies:Allergies can hinder many species, and horses are no different. Horses often have allergic reactions to dust and insect bites. However, the severity varies between horses. Horses with severe allergic reactions to dust can end up with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a serious respiratory condition leading to inflammation and mucus buildup. More commonly, allergies can lead to skin irritation. This is known as urticaria and is often caused by insect bites. It forms as a nettle rash with small, lumpy swellings. It’s usually less serious than COPD and typically requires no medical intervention, but sometimes treatment with antihistamines may be necessary.
  • Back issues: Horses are often afflicted with back issues. Poorly fitted saddles and pulled ligaments or muscles from rolls and falls can contribute to back problems in horses. The spine may be affected and can become painful and tender.
  • Colic disease: Colic disease is a serious and sometimes fatal condition in horses, affecting the digestive system. It can result in cramping and severe pain. Colic can also cause horses to lie on the ground and either roll or thrash around in pain. If the colic is severe, the intestines can become twisted and surgery is required to save the horse’s life.
  • Mud fever: Mud fever is a skin infection, also known as a form of dermatitis, caused by bacteria found in mud. Mud fever typically occurs in the spring season when long rainy periods lead to wet and muddy pastures. Mud fever usually causes swelling and tender skin.
  • Parasites: Horses are commonly infected with parasites or worms, especially when grazing in fields with other animals. When infected with worms, horses exhibit dull coats and a lethargic personality. It’s essential to provide horses with dewormers once every three months to prevent infection.