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Solid Paint Bred Horses-Value in Quality, Color or Not

Updated on January 17, 2010

If you "take away the color" do you still have a quality horse?

Diaman H Risky Malbec a 2009 Solid Paint Bred filly by Ris Key Business and out of a daughter of Docs Malbec. Plenty of pedigree here! Photo courtesy of owners Diaman H-home of Ris Key Business.
Diaman H Risky Malbec a 2009 Solid Paint Bred filly by Ris Key Business and out of a daughter of Docs Malbec. Plenty of pedigree here! Photo courtesy of owners Diaman H-home of Ris Key Business.

What is the value of a 'colorless' Paint?

I'm writing this article as a response to the current horse market conditions. Having seen some really deplorable things and attitudes about Solid Bred Paint Horses I wanted to address some 'facts' about Solid Paint Bred horses and breeding in general, especially when talking about a 'color' breed.

Paint horses, registered with the American Paint Horse Association ( also know as APHA) are extremely popular in the USA. Ownership statistics can be found at the APHA website (link provided) and now 'paints' as they are commonly referred to, are becoming more popular abroad as well.

The main appeal of the paint horse? COLOR! White spots that form specific patterns mix with the horses base color coat and create a unique and beautiful horse (I have another Hub Article about color if you're interested). On top of this, because the Paint Horse Association was founded using the blood of other American stock horses (Quarter Horses and Throughbreds-also have an article about Foundation Quarter Horses) it is possible to find very well bred stock horses with lots of color! The question remains, as not all paint horses carry two copies of their color gene, some 'solid' foals will be born. 'Solid' now referred to as 'Solid Paint Bred' and previously as 'Breeding Stock' means that the horses white markings do not qualify them for 'regular registry' papers but they still are given registration papers, just with some limitations as far as showing.

At one time the uncertainty of breeding Paint Horses was exciting. A breeder would wait with anticipation to see patterns and colors of all the foals. However, in the current difficult market the 'no color paints' are becoming more of a question mark and a liability. Many breeders are afraid to breed 'non homozygous' paints for fear of producing 'solids'. Also many breeders are depending on genetic testing to ensure color production. Genetic testing is a great tool, and I am in no way discouraging its use. However, there is a deeper issue that I want to address.

In breeding for color in the past, many breeders lost track of the foundation of the paint breed...quality stock horses (for show, race, pleasure). Some of the horses were bred simply for their color pattern with little regard to conformation or temperment shown. This led to an excess of loudly colored but otherwise unimpressive Paint Horses with little pedigree, show history, temperment or conformation to show for themselves. If you 'took away the color' you'd be left with a pretty sad horse. I may get judged for saying this, but I'm trying to be honest and certainly am not pointing at anyone in particular but rather at a trend that developed several years ago.

This trend hurt the horse market, especially the Paint Horse market because 'serious horse people' started questioning the value of the Paint Horse. Quarter Horses were seen as more marketable and 'safer', often with better pedigrees and even lower price tags for much higher quality animals. A little splash of white was quite a pricey item!

There have always been 'quality' Paint Horses. Take a look at the sire of one of my own paint horses, Ris Key Business. He has 3 APHA World Championships, NRHA points and many National titles as well. This stallion does not carry a double copy of the tobiano gene meaning aproximately 50% of his foals will not inherit it. By breeding him to high quality mares the owners of Ris Key Business have ensured that even their Solid Paint Bred foals are excellent prospects for performance, breeding and companionship. They carry excellent temperment, conformation and talent despite their lack of color. Ris Key Business is not the only excellent paint horse on the market, in fact, there are many, horses like 'Colonels Smokin Gun', 'Like A Diamond', 'QT Poco Streke', 'Color Me Smart', 'Delta Flyer' and 'A Tru Rolex' (just to name a VERY few) are colored Paint performance Horses and produce excellent foals who excell in performance, regardless of their quantity of white.

Some Paint Horses cary double copies of the tobiano color gene (known as 'homozygosity') and this is a way to guarantee colored offspring, which is clearly desireable in a color breed. As long as the quality is in the horse (again, temperment and conformation before color) and the pedigree then the breeding potential with those individuals is high.

Solid Paint Bred foals are seen as nearly worthless in the current horse market. I would like to clarify that to those that feel that way that Solid Paint Bred horses, when thoughtfully bred are often excellent prospects for their chosen disapline. They can be bought as a lesser price than colored Paint Horses who only have a little more white and they might even be better individuals overall! Just remember, 'take away the white to see the quality'. Imagine that loud-colored foal without the spots or blue eye or eyeliner. Imagine she didn't have that heart-shape right on her hindquarter. Does her pedigree stand up? Is she friendly, trainable and sensible? Are her legs and teeth straight, what about her neck and head? I am not saying don't buy a loud colored paint horse, I'm just saying that if breeders would be responsible and buyers would do their part not to encourage mindless breeding of loud colored but otherwise worthless Paint Horses we could see a huge improvement to the Paint Horse market, Solid Bred or not.

The above Ris Key Business filly is out of a loud red-roan tobiano daughter of Docs Malbec. Her maternal granddam was a finished cutting horse. The filly is cute, shapey and friendly. She has a huge amount of show potential and in associations such as the National Reining Horse Association( or the National Cutting Horse Association(, the fact that she is a 'Solid Paint Bred' horse makes no difference to her show potential. Her temperment, and that of her sire and dam is excellent and so in the future she has all the qualities that point to her being a solid breeding horse. If you go do some research you'll see that just today a colored paint son of Docs Malbec has an asking price of $75,000. We aren't talking about low-quality bloodlines here!

My closing comments? "Take away the color and judge the horse". If you like loud color, there are plenty of fantastic prospects out there ( you can check the home of Ris Key Business as a starting place) and if you are just looking for a fantastic horse, consider the Solid Paint Bred as your starting place. My own stallion, Munez Smokin Tater, is a grandson of Mr Gun Smoke with Cutter Bill on his face papers. He is registered with AQHA/APHA as a Solid Paint Bred and NFQHA at 95% foundation. 'Tater' is standing at The Lewis Ranch Stallion Station in California for the 2010 breeding season.(

You will be pleased with the price tag of an APHA registered Solid Paint Bred and are likely to be happy with your beautiful, talented new horse. A little less white but potentially a whole lot more to offer!


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