Spotting patterns in Appaloosas

Below, you can see examples of various patterns that can be displayed by Appaloosa horses. Please note that in the Appaloosa breed, these patterns are variable and some horses display patterns that doesn’t fit neatly into just one specific category.

Pattern Info
SpotsWhite or dark spots

A horse can be called spotted even if the spots are distributed over a certain portion of the body only.

SnowflakeWhen a dark body is adorned with white spots or flecks, it is commonly referred to as snowflakes.

A snowflake appaloosa will often develop more and more spots and flecks as it grows older, and it is also normal for the size of the spots and flecks to increase.

LeopardA white horse with dark spots is called a leopard if the spots are distributed all over the body.

If the horse is mostly white but with a bit of color remaining around the flank, neck and head, it is known as a few spot leopard.

If a few spot leopard is completely white with only mottled skin showing, it is known as a mottled appaloosa.

Blanket / SnowcapA solid white covering the hip area, and contrasting against the base color of the horse, is known as a blanket or a snowcap. The white covering doesn’t have to be limited to the hip area; it can extend further.
Blanket with spotsA white blanket (snowcap) where there are dark spots within the white segment.

I most horses displaying this pattern, the spots will be of the same color as the base color.

Appaloosa roan /
Varnish roan /
This is a distinct version of the leopard complex, and is characterized by:

  • Intermixed dark and light hairs.
  • A lighter color on the forehead, jowls and frontal bones of the face.
  • A lighter color on the back, loin and hips.

In some horses, darker areas appear along the edges of the frontal bones of the face. Darker areas can also be present on legs, at the point of the hip, behind the elbow, on stifle and above the eye.

Dark points located at bony areas are known as varnish marks and distinguishes this pattern from a traditional roan.

Roan blanket / FrostA horse with roaning over croup and hips.

The blanket normally covers the hip area, but isn’t necessarily limited to the hip area only.

If there are white and/or dark spots within the roan blanket, it’s simply known as roan blanket with spots.

This article was last updated on: November 20, 2017