Pío or pinto, the horse with spotty coat

Piebald or pinto horse

The piebald or pinto horse is one with a striking spotted coat, usually large, which makes it not to be confused with the Appaloosa.

In the same way as in previous articles such as that of the chestnut horses or thrushes, when we talk about pious or pinto horses, we mean a type of fur not a race of equines. Although it is true, that sometimes it is easier to classify them by their fur than by their breed.

Do you want to know a little more about this fur?

The name of this spotted equine coat often creates confusion. ¿Pinto? Cheep? Paint?

Pinto and Pío are two names for the same type of coat stained. One or the other is used depending on the geographical area.

Although it is true that in some geographical areas they make certain differentiations between pío and pinto:

  • In some places they call Pinto to the horse that has the spots of black and white colorsWhile cheep to the one who has them white and brown.
  • In other areas it is called cheep to that spotted equine where the predominant color and base is dark and on which white spots are distributed. On the other hand, chicks would be those in which dark colored spots are arranged on a white base. 

In any case, we are talking about a same type of coat which is called in different ways.

It is important do not confuse the coat with the American Paint Horse breed. This breed has a pinto coat but not all Pinto are of the Paint Horse breed.

There is a great variety of breeds that can present this coat, for example: Gypsy Vanner, Quarter Horse, Hunter Horse, Tennesse Walking, American Saddlebred, Kathiawari, Marwari, Criollo, Curly Horse Azteca, Icelandic, Missouri Fox Trotter, Mustang or the already named Paint Horse.

How is the cape pia or pinta?

The capes in the piebald or pinto horses usually have Two colors, one is always the white and the other tone it can be almost that of any of the equine layers: black, chestnut, bay, buckskin, sorrel, roan, thrush, pearl, palomino, etc.

The white color grows on the pink and depigmented skin.

The forms of the spots of the two tones can be very varied from one equine to another. So that each pius coat has unique spots.

The dark coat usually varies in hue as the animal goes from being a foal to an adult horse. However, the shape of the spots does not usually vary except in exceptions as in the case of horses with a gray coat. The gray parts of the coat end up being blurred with the white layer as the horse gets older. In these cases, when the animal is very old, it can be mistaken for a gray horse.

Pinto Thrush

It is interesting to know that the painted layer is usually predominant over any solid layer and therefore if one of the parents is pinto, it is most likely that their children are as well. If there is a pure pinto father his descendants will be pinto, but in case it is not a pure pinto but a descendant of solid layers and a pint, it is likely that the gene that your foals inherit is the solid one.

Layer types

As we already anticipated that the pattern of the spots is unique in each specimen of this type of fur, however it does can be grouped into different varieties depending on the genetics of each pio or pinto specimen.

What's more, the combination of different varieties can occur in the same horse, such as bulldogs.

Let's see the types of layers they can be grouped into:


In this variety of pinto fur, white spots do not cross the back of the horse between the withers and the tail, although in some exceptions they may present a stain in that area but very scarcely.

They usually have four legs darker than the rest, y in cases that do not have all four, they have at least one. The exception is the sabino monkeys that have three or four white legs and juniper spots. On the face they usually present white face, white or frontin.

The layers in the body are irregular and often blurred between them rather than forming sharp lines.

I paint overo

Source: Wikimedia

Within the overalls we can find different varieties:

  • Sabino Overo: It may appear mottled, at the edges between the two layers of different colors. It is the most common pattern in overcoat coats. They have facial markings and three or four white legs.
  • Marked overcoat: They have white spots along the belly. In the area of ​​the loin, from the withers to the tail and the mane, in almost all the overo marked specimens they present a solid color.
  • Splashed overcoat: It is the strangest type of overalls. The line of division of the two coats is very clear. It has white fur covering the chest, shoulders, the lower part of the neck and the belly in addition to the four white legs. That is, the entire lower part of the animal is white. They usually have blue eyes. An anomaly of equines with this layer is that many are born deaf. It is also the most common coat of the Abaco Colonial Horse breed.


This is the paint layer that can generate the most confusion when identifying it since the white coat usually covers the same areas where any solid coat horse can have white spots. The difference is that the colored spots are longer and more irregular in shape. 

solid paint

It is true that to know for sure that we are dealing with a pinto horse it is better to have information about the coat of its parents.

Two horses with the variety of the solid pint coat can have descendants of any of the other pint coat varieties, when their children are born with another variety of pint coat, they are called Cropout.


Es the most common layer among the pinto coats. It usually has the four white legs at least from the knees down and in the hocks. The darker layer usually covers one or both flanks and large, regular spots they have a shape oval or circular that extends under the neck, chest and shoulders. The face is usually of the dark layer or at least predominantly.

In the body the color of one of the layers or the white or the darker predominates, while the mane and tail are mixed. The spots are usually outlined.

Tobiano paint


This layer is the result of crossing of an overo horse with a tobiano. The result of this crossing is an exemplary Tobiano with overa face.

I paint tovero This coat can create a bit of confusion when compared to the other peep coat varieties. Since, for example, some cocks with a lot of white hairs on the legs and the mane may appear to be gorse. However, although aesthetically they may be similar, genetically they are not.

Other characteristics of pinto or piebald equines

Blue eyes

Are given normally in pinto horses that have most of their face white or they have a face. The eyelid area may or may not be included, although in many cases it is included.

I paint tovero

Brand «Medicine hat»

Although it is something that can be presented in other layers, the most common is that it is in the pints. It consists of the area of ears and nape are dark while all around (face and neck) is white. It gives the appearance that the animal is wearing a hat. There is usually a lot in mustang horses. The Native Americans gave them healing powers, hence the name by which this brand is known.

White lethal syndrome

Not everything is pretty in equines with this coat. There's a gene present in coat type overo that gives rise to this syndrome although not all overos carry it and there have been cases that some non-overos did. Syndrome affects the foal born genetically homozygous. That gene transmitted by one of the parents who carried it in their DNA without being affected by it. The colt dies shortly after birth due to a malformation in the large intestine.

In addition, foals present albinism, hence the name of this syndrome. This gene is activated randomly among the horses that carry it. Fortunately it can be detected with DNA tests to prevent it from reproducing. 

A little of you history

Man has always been interested in those rarest or peculiar equine coats and bred to the horses that owned them with the intention of preserving them.

Already in decorative paintings of ceramic objects or in Ancient Egypt and even in the paintings can be seen animals of equine morphology with spotty coats are represented.

Pinto gypsy horse

An important moment for spotted coat equines are the XNUMXth-XNUMXth centuries. The Spanish conquerors brought these curious furred horses to the New World, where some would be released for various reasons. These became maroons, created or joined herds and spread throughout the Americas. Over time would give rise to the American Paint horse breed or I paint American.

Today is precisely en America where more quantity of specimens of layer pint exist.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I did writing it.

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