The Barb Horse is a light riding horse which originated in the Maghreb region of northern Africa. There are several barb varieties including Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian. This is the foundation breed of the West African Barb and the Spanish Barb which was developed in the United States.
Origin: Barbary Coast of North Africa.
Colors: Usually is gray, but bay, black, chestnut, and brown horses are also found.
Height: Between 14 and 15hh.
Conformation: The Barb has a powerful front end, high withers, short back, a sloping, narrow croup, and carries its tail low, gallops like a sprinter.
Character: The Barb is speedy over a short distance and is well known for it’s unpredictable temper, but it has great hardiness and stamina.
Uses: The Barb horses are used as military horses and for agricultural purposes. These horses are also used for general riding purposes and find their use in many competitions.
History: The Barb Horse is the only other breed of horse that can boast of a long history after the Arabian Horses. There are assumptions that this horse breed may be even more ancient compared to the Arabian horses, but there is no evidence to prove the same.
Like the Arabian Horses, the Barb Horses too have played a significant role in the development of most other horse breeds in the world. Just like the Arabian horses, the Barbs are desert horses. But that is the end to the similarity between the two breeds.
The varieties of Barbs in existence today are the Algerian, Tunisian and Moroccan Barbs. Though the gait of this horse is not perfect, it has the potential to gallop like a sprinter.
The traits of this horse have influenced other breeds like the Thoroughbred, Standarbred and American Quarter Horse, which are the breeds that carry the Barb strain. These horses have great stamina and can travel long distances on limited food supplies.
This horse is resistant to droughts and the movement is agile.
Though the exact place of origination of this breed is still under dispute, people consider that these horses originated in northern part of Africa around the 8th century. It is unsure whether this breed was the predecessor of the Arabian horses or if both these ancient breeds shared a common ancestor.
The spread of Islam to various countries in Europe led to the introduction of this breed to the Europeans. In Europe, this horse played a very significant role in the development of many European breeds.
Spain, southern France, Algeria and Morocco are the primary breeding grounds for this breed. In 1987, The World Organization for the Barb Horse was established in Algeria with the objective of promoting and preserving this breed.