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Pros and cons of foundation appaloosas

What have people’s experiences been with FOUNDATION appaloosas? I’m not referring to the appaloosas that have the build of quarter horses but with appaloosa colour (which can be registered), but rather to the BREED of appaloosas, that can be registered with the Foundation Appaloosa Registry (http://www.foundationapp.org/).

What do you like about them? What do you not like? How do they compare to non-foundation appaloosas?

Good feet, easy keepers, smart. I don’t usually buy spotted QH’s. I don’t like their conformation. I much prefer the LARGE feet of the Foundation aps.


What Nezzy says. And they can be does at times, but have a good work ethic. Tough as nails, good sense of self-preservation.

I’m not 100 % sure what these folks are calling a foundation appy but I loved the old school appies I saw around here as a kid. Longer lower neck and leggier than a qh, tough and smart.

There is a SportHorse Breeding forum on this board, where you may get more/better responses to your breed questions, although most people are geared towards English disciplines.

I’ve got two of them and love both. They’re half brothers and different in looks but have the same scrubby little manes and rooster tails. Very smart but have tons of “appy-tude”. Definitely not quarter horses with spots. Tons of heart and people lovers.

Your query jumped out at me as I was scrolling to the Breeding forum so I stopped in to share my opinion. If you can find a pretty, decent sized Foundation Appy, they are wonderful. My Mom bred them for years. Our stallion was Stardance F-1399. We had a mare from this bloodline in our Sport Horse program and got lovely foals from her. She passed away in 2016 :frowning: and I don’t think there are many like her left in the world. My issue with many of the horses being produced as Foundation Appys is that many of them are small and not much to look at. With the market as tough as it is we need to produce a pretty horse with decent size.

As others have said, they are sound and tough. The Appy we are using on Warmblood mares in our program has no modern QH blood, just “old” Appaloosa and TB. He is producing well for us.


I read some of the Foundation materials as I have a strong interest in breed histories. After the defeat of Chief Joseph the Army euthanized all the Appy stallions they could find and substituted draft and half-draft studs as part of the program to turn the Nez Perce into farmers. I know the Army didn’t get them all; that would have been impossible. But given that the genetic base would be dramatically smaller as a result of the Army’s actions, where do the present Foundation stallions come from?

None of the literature I can find addresses this sad chapter in the breed’s history. How does the Foundation registry address this?


There were some horses ‘outside’ the seized herd: ranchers, trading with other tribes, so on.

Foundation Appys are supposed to have 8 generation or more of ‘only Appaloosa’ breeding.

There is a bit of info here



As I understand, Remount TBs were also used in some cases.

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Thanks for the responses, guys!

I understand that white ranchers in the PNW worked to save the breed, when it was being extinguished and a lot of the stock ended up in their ranch breeding programs.

Also a friend of mine was on a reserve in the Canadian Okanogan last year, and was taken out to see a free running band of horses. She was told they were Chief Joseph Spirit Horses, descended from horses that escaped the last massacre. She said they looked “different” but I couldn’t get a clear description from her. I wanted to know if they looked like classic Appaloosa or just mustang, or what.

Scribbler, That is fascinating!

And since the Nez Perce were trying to get to sanctuary with Sitting Bull and Lakotas in Canada, I am not surprised that horses may have been traded or driven to the more northern tribes before or after the surrender.

Link to pics of early foundation Appys so people can see the type.
Sturdy, but not stockhorse; to me they resemble some of the early Morgan type of horse.


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Some articles from The Morgan Horse 1943, showing that Morgans were known and crossbred in the western USA on ranching stock before WWII, and used by the Remount (all remount horses were auctioned in 1947 when it disbanded)

I would be surprised that a band hemmed in a aggressively pursued by the Army would have had much time for trading. The Appy was prized by some ranchers as many could perform the “Indian Shuffle” gait that was quite comfortable. The trek of Chief Joseph is really quite a story and well worth reading.

The Army chose the TB type horse as the foundation of the Remount Service. About 90% were of that type with the balance being mostly Morgan or Arabian, but with a few others in the mix. The Morgans and Arabians were donated by some very wealthy people (including Dr. Kellogg of corn flakes fame). Infantry officers and the Artillery liked the Morgans Not very many officers rode the Arabians, but a few did. That would include Maj. Frank Tomkins who wrote Chasing Villa.

I’m always interested in the lore of breeds as well as the documented facts of them!


Wow atr! That is a GORGEOUS horse!

I would imagine that trading took place in the 100 years or so before the running battle to escape to Canada.
And there were Nez Perce who did make it to Canada…
" It will be observed that true to Indian custom, Joseph had not spoken for White Bird. That night this chief with his family and a few of his band escaped and finally joined Sitting Bull in Canada."

There were also the Nez Perce treaty bands that were on the Lapwai reservation in Idaho before the final attacks on the Wallowa Nez Perce that led to the flight and running battle.

Nez Perce living among the Sioux

"The American army wanted to portray the Battle of the Bear Paw as a great American victory and the end of the Nez Perce war. Therefore, the army downplayed the escape of many of the Nez Perce, particularly those in White Bird’s band. Historians have suggested that the American military leaders did not really know that nearly 300 people had escaped from the battle site. Army correspondence mentions that “a few” Indians got away.

Regarding the “few” who got away, the army set out detachments of soldiers to either kill or capture any Nez Perce they could find. The army also recruited Assiniboine and Gros Ventre warriors to seek out and kill any Nez Perce who had not surrendered. Colonel Nelson Miles would write: [INDENT]“the Assinboines are killing the Nez Perces as I sent them word that they could fight any that escaped and take their arms and ponies.”
[/INDENT] Colonel Miles promised local residents 25 horses from the Nez Perce here plus $500 for bringing in White Bird dead or alive."

I appreciate the additions to my historical knowledge. But I still wonder how much of a true “foundation” bloodline there might be. If the stallion gene pool were as devastated as it might have been that means the genetic base would have been quite small after the fighting was done.


And how much Morgan is in the modern Morgan horse breed?
That also has been diluted and outcrossed many times, yet still, one can recognize Morgan type, movement and temperament, stamina and longevity over 200 years later.

I am in the PNW. Appys are a definitely different breed, not just a color pattern or QH with spots.
If you want foundation, there is the region to explore.

I won’t disagree with you that the genetics might have been severely reduced, but there is such a thing as prepotence and selection and back-crossing.

I didn’t actually find a ‘massacre’ of the Appaloosa herd comparable to the Duro Canyon horse shooting of 1851 after defeating the Comanche.
Instead, references to them being ‘left behind’ (confiscated) doled out to ranchers, possibly officers, exhausted horses being shot, and the remaining stock auctioned off. That auctioned horses may have gone to slaughter in the 1870’s is probable; but useful horses would definitely have been bought up by ranchers and settlers.
It was a different time than today with horses being as valued as cars.