Appaloosas are a uniquely American breed with a rich heritage. Credit for the evolution of the colourful spotted breed is given to the Nez Perce tribe of the Pacific Northwest of the United States. As access to horses (abandoned by the Spanish) spread across the United States in the 1500s, the Nez Perce tribe became known as excellent horsemen. In time, the availability of horses changed the tribe's way of life as they improved their herds of quality horses with unique spots. The name Appaloosa is thought to have evolved from tribes located near the "Palouse" River in Idaho. These stock type horses were prized for their colour and temperament. Today they still are and Appaloosas are popular as family pleasure horses and show horses, competing most often in Western disciplines.