What is the difference between a Paint and a Pinto? A Paint is a specific breed of horse, bred for the conformation and musculature similar to a Quarter Horse, and also bred for unique coloring. Paint horses aren’t always colored, some turn out solid but may still carry the genes needed to have colored offspring. Pinto, on the other hand, is ANY breed of horse exhibiting the colorations below:
Tobiano is a dominant color pattern, and is most common. A tobiano generally has four white legs, at least below the hocks and knees. The dark color of the pattern is usually covering one or both flanks and the spots are regular and distinct (smooth ovals or round patterns that extend down over the neck, chest, and/or shoulders giving the appearance of a “war shield”). Generally, face markings are just like a solid-colored horse (solid, blaze, strip, star or snip) and body color may be either predominantly dark or white. The mane and tail is usually mixed of two colors. A majority of tobianos have spots that are smooth-edged and not jagged like most overos, and many have white over their back and/or neck.
On an Overo colored horse, the white will not usually cross the back of the horse between the withers and tail. It is desirable for all four legs to be dark, or at least one. Face markings are usually bald-faced, apron-faced or bonnet-faced. The white color throughout the overo’s body is generally irregular or sometimes ‘jagged’ instead of forming smooth lines between the colors.
Sabino Overo: Appears speckled or “roany”, mostly near the spot’s edges. This is the most common overo pattern. Sabinos often have spotted or roan-like facial markings, which can look quite wild. It is rare to find a sabino with a normal star or stripe for a facial marking. Another distinct characteristic of the sabino, is that they generally have three or four white legs.
Frame Overo: White spots along the horse’s barrel, with a “frame” of darker color around the white. Over 95% of all frame overos are solid colored along the back from the withers to the tail, and it is uncommon for the mane to be of mixed color.
Splash White Overo: This is a very rare overo color pattern. In my opinion, splash white overos look like a reverse-colored Tobiano…with smooth-edged color patterns, and with a white “shield” in the front covering the shoulders and bottom of the neck being a common trait. Splash whites generally have light-to-medium blue eyes. It is also common for splash whites to have 4 white legs.
This color pattern most commonly comes from crossing a Tobiano horse with an Overo colored horse. In most cases, the result will be a mix of the two color patterns. For example: a tobiano with bald-face or apron-face markings, will most likely be called a “tovero”. Or, some overos with a large amount of white color in their manes or past the withers are sometimes considered to be a tovero. However, some overos or tobianos will appear to be toveros even when they aren’t genetically a tovero…this is the most confusing color pattern, indeed.