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Paint Horse's Patterns

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

The patterns of the Paint horses’ coat are three types – Tobiano, Overo, and Tovero. The pattern and color of the coat is unique for every horse, similar to our fingerprints. The American Paint Horse Association gives specific description of each pattern.

Hidalgo, one of our magnificent stallions


A tobiano pattern horse can be either predominantly dark or white, often with an impressive two-colored tail. Head markings are like those of solid-colored horses. It can be solid-colored or with a snip, star, strip or blaze. In general, at least below the hocks and knees, all legs are white. The white marking of tobiano horses are regular and distinct. They appear as ovals or round patterns that extend down over the neck and chest, giving the appearance of a shield.

The Tobiano can also have additional


The first one is ink spots. Ink spots, also known as “paw prints,” are small spots of color ranging from 1 to 3 inches (2,5 – 7,6cm). They are usually surrounded by a prominent “blue zone” (white hair on black-pigmented skin that give the hair a blue appearance).

The second is coronet spots. Colored spots located along the coronet band are often found on horses carrying the tobiano gene. However, the presence of either of the traits is not a guarantee that the Tobiano gene is present in the horse.


The grandfather of one of our horses

The next pattern of the Paint horse breed we will look at is Overo. In general the overo horses are all dark or white very often with one colored tails. The head is a distinctive feature being bald-faced, apron-faced or bonnet-faced. On the body the white usually does not cross the horse’s back between its withers and tail. The unique white markings are irregular – scattered or splashy. Many overo horses have all their four legs dark or at least one. In the photo you can see the grandfather of one of our horses. Photo was accessible thanks to the APHA pedigree archive.

The Overo pattern has three sub patterns – Frame Overo, Splashed White Overo, and Sabino Overo.

The Frame Overo often have blue eyes. Heads are extensively marked with white. Interesting feature is the common moustache, a pigmented upper lip which stands out on the predominantly white head. The body of the frame overo has horizontal white spots on the middle of the sides and the neck, rarely crossing the topline.

The Splashed White Overo horses are distinctive with their blue eyes. Head is extensively, and most often, completely white. The Splashed White Overo horse usually has white legs, and the body is white ventrally.

The Sabino Overo often features irregular spotting usually on the legs, belly and face, often with extensive roaning. Spotting can vary from minimal to almost entirely white. White markings often have narrow extensions up a leg or down the throat, and edges are often jagged. Partially blue eyes are common.


The last pattern of the Paint horse breed is the Tovero. As the name suggests the Tovero pattern is a combination of the tobiano and any of the overo patterns.

Typical for the Tovero horse is that the white coat dominates the body, sometimes the horse is almost entirely white. In general, all the contrasting markings are regular and distinct, appearing as ovals or round patterns that extend down over the neck and chest, giving the appearance of a shield.

Dark pigmentation appears around the ears that may spread to cover the forehead and/or the eyes, similar to a mask. Contrasting color may be covering one or both flanks. Distinctive is that the base of the tail can have spots of varying size.

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