Palomino History & Heritage

What does it take to be a Palomino?

According to the PHBA registrar, here are the basics:

Excerpts taken from the 2019 PHBA Handbook, starting on page 45.

The Basics

Only Palomino horses meeting the color, conformation, breeding and other requirements specified may be registered with PHBA. In addition, the owner must also have a current PHBA membership prior to registration. The membership can be compared to your driver's license when you register a vehicle, meaning the owner of a Palomino must have a membership in the exact name, or partnership name, or corporation, or ranch as it should appear on the PHBA registration certificate to register the horse. Proof of ownership is very important, and additional proof might be needed to verify you are who you say you are.

The Look

To be eligible for registration, a Palomino must show the refinement of the head, bone, and general structure appropriate to the breeds recognized by PHBA, and be suitable for carrying western or English equipment. The horse must be between fourteen (14) and seventeen (17) hands when fully matured and must show no pony or draft horse characteristics. An exception to height limits are made for those horses that hold registration papers from one of the nearly 20 recognized breed associations, listed to the right.

The Color

Body Coat: The ideal body coat color is approximately the color of a United States gold coin, however, if your yellowish colored horse has undesirable color characteristics, he might not be a Palomino. The American Quarter Horse Association has some tips as well as a downloadable color guide to help determine the color of your horse. Here's a short list from the Palomino rules of what not to have on your yellow horse:

  • A brown or black dorsal stripe along the spine
  • Alternating bands of lighter and darker hairs running around the legs (zebra stripes) or across the withers (wither or neck stripes)
  • Spotting and or coat characteristics typical of paints, pintos, appaloosas, and cremellos or perlinos
  • White hairs interspersed within the coat associated with grey

Skin Color: The skin must be dark-colored (grey, black, brown, mottled) without pink spots wherever it shows around the nose and eyes, under the tail, and between the hind legs, except for skin on the face which may be pink where it is a continuation of a white marking. Horses registered with the American Saddlebred Horse Association may have a skin color of any shade.

Eyes: A horse's iris of eyes may be black, brown, blue or hazel, however, a horse with blue, glass or partially blue eyes must have eye color reported on the recognized breed association’s registration certificate. The eyes may be different colors.

Mane & Tail: The mane and tail must be a minimum of seventy-five (75%) percent white and may have no more than twenty-five (25%) percent black, sorrel, chestnut or off colored hair in either. Mane and tail may not be altered in any manner to appear whiter for registration purposes. That means no bleach, paint, hair coloring, staining, or thought of anything starting with "maybe this will work" is allowed that changes the natural color of a horse's mane and tail. There are several commercially available natural whiteners that bring out the true whiteness without changing the natural color.

Take The Test

These are just some of the basics to test against your yellow horse before bringing home that golden set of papers. These tests, or rules, are designed to protect and preserve the integrity of the Palomino horse, and every consideration is made to register your horse. If you have questions about confirming the color of your soon-to-be-certified Palomino, ask a rancher, breeder, professional horseman or staff at your horse's breed registry headquarters.

And yes, it's kinda cool to tell people your certified Palomino horse is double, or sometimes triple registered and recognized by more than one governing equine body.


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Palomino Breeds

  • Palomino
  • American Holsteiner Horse
  • American Paint Horse
  • American Quarter Horse
  • American Saddle Horse
  • American Warmblood
  • Andalusian and Lusitano
  • Appaloosa
  • Arabian
  • Half Arabian
  • Missouri Fox Trotter
  • Morab
  • Morgan
  • Mountain Pleasure Horse
  • Pinto
  • Quarab
  • Racking Horse
  • Rocky Mountain Horse
  • Thoroughbred