The Barb horse, also known as the Berber horse, is a breed that was developed in northern Africa. Its origin is unknown, but it is thought to have been developed in the 8th century, near the time that Muslim invaders entered the area. Some suggest that the breed is an ancestor of the Arabian horse while others suggest that it shares an ancestor with that breed.
Today, there are many types of Barb horses including Algerian and Moroccan Barbs. The Barb horse was sometimes mistaken for the Arabian horse when it was imported Europe. It is now mostly bred in Morocco, Spain, southern France, and Algeria. Because the breed is experiencing a decline in purebred individuals, the World Organization of the Barb Horse was created in Algeria to help preserve its bloodlines. A subtype of the Spanish Barb, known as the Abaco Barb, is more threatened than the main breed, so efforts to save this type have also been enacted.
It is thought that the Barb has had more influence on other racing breeds than any other breed, excluding the Arabian. It has played a critical role in the development of the Andalusian and Lusitano horses as well as the Thoroughbred, American quarter horse, and Appaloosa, among other breeds. Although it is not as well known for its appearance as the Arabian, it is known for its endurance and skill while traveling over short distances. It reaches a height between 14.2 and 15.2 hands and can be bay, black, grey, brown, or chestnut in color. Although it has been used to develop many racing breeds, it does possess a spirited temperament.
Image Caption: Berberstute Zafira Al Saïda. Credit: Alexander Kastler/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.5)