The Appaloosa breed of horse originated with the Nez Perce people indigenous to the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
The Nez Perce had established breeding herds as early as 1750, practicing strict selection in their breeding animals.
While modern Appaloosas are well-recognized and prized for their spotted coats, only a small percentage of early Appaloosas showed the characteristic spotting patterns well-known today. By the late 1800s, however, spotted Appaloosas were far more common and eventually became the breed’s most easily recognizable characteristic.
How the Appaloosa horse got its name is directly related to the Palouse River which runs through the Northwest United States. As settlers moved into the area in the 1800s, they began calling the unusually spotted horses “a Palouse horse” for the nearby river. Over time, the name amalgamated into Appaloosa, which has been the name for this uniquely American horse ever since.