A palomino horse has a golden, yellowish, or white coat with a light cream or white mane and tail. These horses have a splotchy, speckled appearance that is unique. The color of the horse varies depending on season and diet, with darker hues showing up when they consume more food. Palomino horses have light-colored eyes that can be either gold or amber.
A rare variation on the palomino color is a chestnut-colored horse with a black mane and tail. This is known as a claybank dun or dun palomino. There are only a few of these horses in the world.
The palomino horse has a special relationship with humans as it was one of the first breeds brought to the New World by the Spanish conquistadors. In fact, they were the main source for all of the Palominos currently in North America. The color of the horse was named after Juan de Palomino, who received one as a gift before beginning his voyage to the Americas.
In the 1960s, a popular palomino Saddlebred cross became famous as the talking horse Mister Ed. He was a favorite of many children and adults, and is still well known to this day. Mister Ed was a big, intelligent palomino who could perform impressive tricks. He was also able to communicate with his human companion, Roy Rogers.
Palomino horses have a 50% chance of passing on the color to a foal. However, if the male is mixed with a cremello or perlino mare, it becomes a much higher probability. A black horse can pass on the color to a foal, but it is not as likely.
When a dilution gene is present in a horse, it will produce the palomino color. However, most color breed registries were established before the science of equine coat colors was as understood as it is today. Often, the standard definition of a palomino is based on the appearance of the horse, and does not take into account the presence of the gene.
If a palomino is combined with a bay or red-brown horse, it will produce a chestnut. If it is combined with a black, the result will be a seal-brown or buckskin.
There are some very light palominos that may look almost white, but they will have pink skin and blue eyes. This is called a cremello and is a double dilution of the chestnut/sorrel color pattern. Cremellos are usually very sweet-tempered and are often used in riding and driving competitions. They are also very good at nursing sick or injured horses back to health. They are the best choice for those interested in a very light, but intelligent, horse. They should be bred with care, as they have a tendency to develop laminitis, which is a painful condition in which the soft tissue of the hoof is inflamed. This condition can lead to lameness and severe pain for the animal. Fortunately, there is a treatment for this condition, which is a low-sugar pellet that is administered by mouth.