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PetMD Editorial
Published: December 01, 2009

Though not technically a breed, the Albino horse is well-recognized because of its white coat and pinkish skin. In fact, any horse -- regardless of its bloodline, ancestry, or size -- can be classified as an "albino" if it is born with the distinctive white color. Contrary to what some may believe, it is a common type in the United States.


Physical Characteristics


The Albino horse has the distinct characteristics of an animal with albinism, though it is not a true "albino." The biggest distinction is that its pink skin shows through its pure white coat. Moreover, its eyes are always dark in color (generally blue, brown or black) and it measures about 15 hands high (60 inches, 152 centimeters).


All Albino horses on record are on of three types: following either the formation of a saddler, Arab, or stock horse. However, they can also have the characteristics of any number of breeds to which their sire or dam belongs.


Personality and Temperament


The Albino is not only good to look at; it also has a great disposition. Generally, an Albino horse is intelligent and has great ability to learn. It is obedient and willing. It is so trainable, in fact, that it is often used for horse shows and public performances.


History and Background

The Albino takes its name from the Latin word "Albus," which means white. However, the Albino horse does not have albinism disorder (i.e. insufficient melanin production), but is merely white. As such, it is not weak and does not have poor eyesight as some people may claim. In other words, the Albino horse may look like an albino but it is not an albino in the real sense of the word. In truth, the Albino horse is just a white colored horse -- nothing more, nothing less.

Historically recognized as a royal mount, only noblemen, heroes, and other affluent members of the royal family had the right to ride the Albino or white horse. So much so, in fact, that the Albino became the rallying point during ancient wars, as it was usually the mount of the commanding officer. For instace, El Cid, (a Castilian nobleman and military leader, used a white horse in legendary battle fought in Spain. Napoleon also had a stable of white horses. Furthermore, many during the Renaissance period commissioned portraits of themselves riding a white horse. Indeed, the white horse is the symbol of elegance, beauty, courage, wealth, and royalty.


Many experts believe the American Albino breed began with a single white stallion named Old King. This white horse sired many white-coated foals even when the mothers of such foals were non-white mares. Old King was purportedly of Arab Morgan extraction, although there are no records to verify this; his lines, size and proportion, however, were typical of this breed.

It is Old King’s white-coated progeny that the AAHA (American Albino Horse Association) accepted in its registry. Another association, the White Horse Club, is in charge of collecting live Albino horses and experimenting in Albino breeding methods. The modern Albino horse is still mainly used for riding today.