Real Foundation Appaloosas

Reprinted with permission of Maury Lawson, of Appaloosa Hillside Farm, Massachusetts

This page is to give readers a brief and basic knowledge of the difference between a Registered Appaloosa, and a Registered Appaloosa who is a Real Foundation Appaloosa, by carrying a High percentage of F numbered Appaloosa blood.

“Foundation” is just that, the foundation from where a breed (or the start of anything – such as a house) begins, and is built upon. Foundation Appaloosas are the first ApHC registered Appaloosas, most being F (for Foundation) numbered Appaloosas. F numbered Appaloosas are from a closed stud book, and 1428 of them were designated by the National Stallion board to be Purebreds (which is when the book was originally closed). The book was closed in order to declare Appaloosas a breed so that the registry could hold breed shows. It was reopened when the Appaloosa racing agency needed the numbering to be different than those with letters, and then closed again after that for the second time. Since then, the books were opened yet again, and are still open at this present time. Every breed registry has Foundation horses. Some have only one, some have three, some have many.

Do not just own a registered Appaloosa, instead own a registered Foundation bred Appaloosa with a high F numbered blood percentage. There is a BIG difference.

Robert (Bob) Peckinpah was a nine-term ApHC (Appaloosa Horse Club) president. His central accomplishment of his first term revolved around needing to more clearly define the Appaloosa breed standard, for both judging purposes and the ensuing result of maintaining the action and versatility of the breed. A man named George Phippen was carefully selected for his true artist’s knowledge of anatomy, and was commissioned to paint a horse exhibiting the Appaloosa breed standard in every line.

The "Phippen" appaloosa breed standard.
The “Phippen” appaloosa breed standard.

The final painting, known as “the Phippen horse”, became the official breed standard. When a Dr. William Linfoot first saw it, he said: “This is a horse that can do anything. He has withers, a good shoulder, long muscle and shows good balance.”

Dr. Linfoot was considered to be an exceptional horseman who knew what he saw from first hand, hands-on experience.

Many generations of registered Appaloosas bred to registered Appaloosas does not at all make an Appaloosa Foundation bred. Many think this, but as I will explain, that is not the case at all!

As I have said, Foundation Appaloosas are the very first ApHC registered Appaloosas, most having F (for Foundation) before their registration number. Unless an Appaloosa today has a HIGH percentage of F numbered Appaloosa blood, it is not Foundation Bred, and most likely will not fit the Phippen horse description which is what this Appaloosa “breed” was meant to be!

Here is why: A registered Appaloosa can be bred to a registered Thoroughbred, Arabian or Quarter horse, and the resulting foal will be a registered Appaloosa. So, say a person breeds a registered Appaloosa to a registered Quarter horse. Its foal will be a registered Appaloosa, but by blood that foal is at LEAST half Quarter horse since one of its parents was a Quarter horse (if that registered Appaloosa parent already had Quarter horse in it, then this foal is MORE Quarter horse by blood than it is Appaloosa). This is just ONE Appaloosa in that generation.

Some think that five generations of Appaloosa to Appaloosa breeding means no other breeds are involved and call it Foundation bred, but, as you can see, this is not necessarily the case! The only way a horse can be Foundation bred, is if it carries a HIGH percentage of F numbered (first registered) Appaloosa blood in its recent ancestors. Again, Foundation means just that, The Founding/very first ApHC registered Appaloosas.

As Robert Peckinpah stated: “What we must vigilantly guard against are those that refuse to except the Appaloosa as a breed and what he stands for, and who continually exert pressure in the attempt to convert him into a Quarter horse, an Arab, or a Morgan, etc, with spots.”

You have to start somewhere with a breed, and the F numbered horses are it, no matter what. Some F numbered Horses were half thoroughbred or half Arab, but were given tentative registration papers (they had a T prefix verses the F) until they had enough progeny on the ground to prove themselves as Appaloosa producers (including having a certain number with color). If these tentative papered early Appaloosas proved themselves worthy as Appaloosa producers, THEN they received F numbers.

However, once that F numbered pool was big enough (when the F numbers were no longer given out), that is what people should be breeding from – the F numbered descendents. We no longer need to add other blood (Thoroughbred, Quarter horse, Arabian). All breeds started this way!

Adding any more blood from other breeds after the F numbered Appaloosas, is just changing the Appaloosa from what they first were, and what they were meant to be (which was the Phippen horse – he was declared the Appaloosa breed standard!).

The Nez Perce People were noted as one of the first breeders of the Appaloosa horses. They used the practice of gelding inferior males and trading away poorer stock to remove unsuitable horses from the gene pool. The early Nez Perce horses were considered to be of high quality by the late 1800s.

Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition wrote in his February 15, 1806 journal entry about the Nez perce horses: “Their horses appear to be of an excellent race: they are lofty, elegantly [sic] formal, active and durable: in short many of them look like fine English horses and would make a figure in any country”.

Many of the first registered (F numbered/Foundation) Appaloosas came from Appaloosa bloodlines such as the Nez Perce Appaloosas.

The Appaloosa horse is known for its characteristics, coat pattern, striped hooves, mottled skin and white sclera. Although these things are paramount to the Appaloosa breed, the Foundation Appaloosa by a High percentage of F numbered Appaloosa blood are this, and much more. Foundation Appaloosas are versatile, have longevity, good bone and hooves, stamina, agility, hardiness, with great conformation and temperament. They range in size from 14 to 15.3 hands.

Do not just own a registered Appaloosa, instead own a registered Foundation bred Appaloosa with a high F numbered blood percentage. There is a BIG difference.