Paint/Pinto—one of the most complicated coat colors to understand is the paint or pinto coat pattern. Paints/pintos belong to a “white-color pattern” group, which is characterized as having “patches of white” or a “white spotting pattern.” The words “paint” and “pinto” do not only designate a type of coat-color pattern; in the U.S., Paints and Pintos also have two different breed associations. So, the confusion begins!
The words “paint” and “pinto” will be used interchangeably in this article to mean the same thing: a white spotting pattern that is not uniform. In the past, the words piebald (white on a black horse) and skewbald (white on any other color than black) were used to describe paint/pinto horses, but today the use of these terms is becoming less common.
The system used for naming horses’ colors within the Paint Horse registry is relatively new; so if you need to specify color for a horse in this registry, be sure to refer to the most current resources available.
Today, paint/pinto horses are described first by naming the base coat color, then by specifying the pattern of white spotting that is over the basic coat color. There are two main types of paints/pintos—tobiano and overo. The word “overo” is used for any paint/pinto horse that is not a tobiano. The term overo includes 3 coat patterns—frame, sabino, and splashed white:
- splashed white
Therefore, there are four distinctly different paint/pinto coat patterns—1) tobiano, 2) frame, 3) sabino, and 4) splashed white.