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Paint Horses: Facts, Lifespan, Behavior & Care Guide (with Pictures)

painted palomino horse

You’ve likely passed a pasture with an incredible Paint horse galloping around the field. They are instantly recognizable due to their patched patterns and unwavering grace. Because of their sought-after traits, they have soared in popularity—which makes them easily attainable if you’re in the market.

If you’re an equine-lover looking for a new horse to train, Paints are excellent choices for several reasons. These horses are brilliant, incredibly intuitive, and receptive to direction. Find out all there is to know about this incredible equine.


Quick Facts about Paint Horses

Species Name: Equus caballus
Family: Equidae
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Mild, easy to train
Color Form: Pinto
Lifespan: 30 years
Size: 14-16 hands
Diet: Herbivore
Minimum Enclosure Size: 1.5 acres
Stall Setup: 12’ x 12’
Compatibility: High

Paint Horse Overview

black and white Paint Horse
Image Credit: Pixabay

The American Paint Horse is an equine beloved for a reason. Throughout its breeding history, it has ties to the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse. These horses are incredibly stocky and relatively short, which is an ideal body type for short bursts of running.

The Paint is considered a stock-type horse, verified by the American Quarter Horse Association. The most notable feature of their physical makeup is patches of white, referred to as pinto. Although, there is a wide range of pattern and color possibilities.

Paint horses are usually very skilled and talented riders. They work well with owners of all experience levels, making them versatile and valuable.


How Much Does A Paint Horse Cost?

Because Paint horses are pretty famous among equine owners, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one. There are plenty of Paints to adopt, buy from a breeder, or rescue.


Many horses are auctioned off, which can work in your favor. Paint horses are very easy to come by, so the likelihood you’ll find one at an auction is decently high.

You can expect to pay up as the highest bidder at an auction, and the price will vary depending on how much people are willing to pay. Auctions are a bit of a hot topic in the horse world. Some love auctions, while others warn against them.

As with any other method, use discretion. 


Price from breeders can vary depending on foal quality, but you can expect these prices:

  • Baby—$750-$1,500
  • Yearlings—$2,000
  • Adults—$2,000


You can adopt or rescue a Paint—most who are adopted come with all necessary vetting and care. You can expect to pay in the broad range of free to $2,000—depending on training and other factors.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

The American Paint Horse has an incredibly desirable personality which makes for rewarding relationships with owners. They tend to be very attached to their humans and love to learn new information.

The Paint horse would make a lovely choice for a first-time or very young rider—and any experience level beyond that. They have a disciplined nature and a calm demeanor, so they are easy to control.

Appearance & Varieties

Paint horse_Shutterstock_Vera Zinkova
Image Credit: Vera Zinkova, Shutterstock

Paints have a broad range of color possibilities, but one overall similarity is that they have large white patches on their body.

There are three color patterns in the Paint horse:

Tobiano Otherwise known as “toby”, these horses usually have white legs with defined spots. The mane and tail are sometimes two different colors. 

Overo Overo Paints have color on the legs with white patches taking up their sides. These horses usually have color over their back, and one or both eyes are blue. Spots are often scattered and undefined. 

Tovero The Tovero is a combination of characteristics between the Tobiano and the Overo.

horse shoe divider

How to Take Care of Paint Horse

Buying a new horse is such an exciting experience. Whether you have previous experience or it’s all new to you, the breed is such a rewarding one to own. But before you can fully commit to owning a Paint horse, you have to make sure you have the proper resources first.

Habitat, Cage Conditions & Setup


All horses require highly-secure fencing to keep them inside. Horses are excellent jumpers and master escape artists, which can lead to them breaking free. A free horse can run into all kinds of trouble.

So, it’s best to make sure that you have a strong fencing unit accompanied by an electric line. While it might seem slightly inhumane, it’s ultimately safer for your horse as they will very quickly learn not to go too close to the fence.

On top of the fencing, you will need to make sure that you can fence in enough land required for each horse you own. A good rule of thumb is to have up to 2 acres of land for a horse.


Unlike some other barn animals who can fair very well and outdoor elements, horses are an exception. They require having a dry, moisture-free environment to protect both their bodies and their hooves. You will need a stall that is at least 12’ x 12’.


Wood products are usually the best type of bedding for horses. You can choose between pellets, chips, or sawdust.

Straw is also a great choice because it’s cheap, functional, and easy to clean up.


In addition to space, you need the proper supplies for your horse in training and handling.

Here are some things to make sure you put on the list:

  • Water trough
  • Feed container
  • Stable broom
  • Halter
  • Lead ropes
  • Mane comb
  • Hoof pick
  • Saddle
  • Stirrups
  • Helmet
  • Bridle and bit
  • Saddle pad
  • Emergency care kit

Do Paint Horses Get Along with Other Pets?

Paint horses have exceptionally agreeable temperaments. They typically get along very well with other horses, but some personalities might not be as compatible as others. Horses can get along with most animals in the barnyard, too.

Paint horses, while agreeable, can spook easily, though. Make sure to supervise any interactions between your Paint and smaller pets.


What to Feed Your Paint Horse

Like all horses, Paint horses require a specific and plentiful diet to keep up with their metabolism. Horses benefit significantly from grazing fields for nutritious grasses, shrubs, and trees.

You also need to provide specially-formulated commercial horse feed for your Paint. They need lots of fresh hay, too—the more fiber, the better.

They love having lots of fresh fruits and veggies as occasional snacks. But be careful not to go overboard on sweet treats.

paint horse close up
Image Credit: Pixabay

Keeping Your Paint Horse Healthy

All horses require particular care and living conditions to thrive. Horses need proper space, vetting, maintenance, and training. Just remember a few tips while owning a Paint horse.

  • Make sure you have proper space for your horse to roam freely.
  • Offer your horse a fresh supply of water, food, and hay.
  • Always ensure that hooves stay dry and debris-free.
  • Keep up with regular vet appointments and hoof trimmings.
  • Make sure to brush your horse to keep them free of tangles and matting.
  • Train and ride your horse to improve your bond and teach positive habits.


When you breed an American Paint horse, you should always make sure both parents are registered to an association.  Once you have the pair, mares are most fertile between 6-7 years.

Paint horses typically give birth to only one foul at a time. Twin pregnancies can happen, but there is a risk of pregnancy loss or birthing complications. Having a routine veterinarian on hand throughout the pregnancy is the best way to ensure success.

Paint horses are typically pregnant for 345 days, just a few weeks short of a year!


Are Paint Horses Suitable For You?

There aren’t too many ranch situations that would make a poor setup for a Paint horse. No matter if you’re currently a horse owner or you’re looking to start—these horses offer ideal training potential and all-around agreeableness.

If you have the land, supplies, funds, and confidence—opting for a Paint horse might just wind up being the best choice you could make.

Featured Image Credit: Olga_i, Shutterstock

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