The Pinto is technically a color breed or color pattern; they usually consist of patches of white and another color, the color pattern of the Pinto however is what makes the horse unique. These horses are referred to as a color breed where as others earn their name through their genetic ancestry. There are never two pintos with the same pattern of colors. It is believed that the Pinto color pattern arrived in Europe because of the Arabian; this theory is strongly supported through the discovery of ancient art all throughout the Middle East.
This horse has been immortalized through song and story. The Native Americans believed that the Pinto Horse possessed magical qualities that are said to have shown mostly in battle. It was because of European explorers, particularly from Spain, that the Pinto Horse came to be introduced to North America.
In America during the 1800s, when the Native Americans dwelled on the plains and the white man was beginning to settle the frontier, it was very common to cross these horses with wild Mustangs to increase their size, their looks, and their all around ability to handle more strenuous jobs in a variation of weather conditions. The Native Americans favored these as their ideal war horse because of their color variation that provided a natural camouflage.
The Pinto Horse Association of America accepts mostly any horse that displays the pinto color pattern; they however do not accept horses that are of Appaloosa, Draft, or Mule breeding and characteristics. In America, they are referred to as a proper breed. The Pinto Horse doesn't have a consistent conformation since it is bred for color. When the darkest color on the horse is black, it is described as piebald. When the darkest color is anything but black, it is described as skewbald.
There are however four different types of conformation in the Pinto; the saddle, stock, hunting, and racing types. These four different types have different backgrounds that separate them from the other; the stock is of Quarter and Paint breeding and conformation. The saddle is of American Saddlebred, Tennessee Walking Horse, or sometimes Missouri Fox Trotter breeding and conformation. The hunter type is of Thoroughbred breeding and conformation, and finally the racing or pleasure type is of Arabian or Morgan breeding and conformation.
There are actually two different types of color pattern that are the most recognized the Tobiano and the Overo. The difference of course is in the Tobiano they are white with large spots of color that usually are located on the head, chest, flank, and buttock, and sometimes including the tail. The legs are also usually white. The Overo usually consists of being colored with jagged white markings that appear to frame the colored areas. These spots usually start at the sides or stomach area spreading towards the neck, tail, legs and back. They also usually have a dark tail, mane, legs, and backline and white almost never crosses the back or top line. A pinto that has descended from two solid colored parents is called a "crop-out".