The barb horse breed is one of the oldest horse breeds in the world, and is believed to originate from wild horses (the horse of the berber) in the Maghreb region in North Africa that were domesticated thousands of years ago. Other experts state that the breed originates from the Arabian horse breed, while others argue that they simply have a common ancestor (the Akhal Teke).
The first studbook for this African breed was created in Algeria in the 1880s. The breed has however lost its popularity as their gates are not fancy and big enough for dressage, and their short back and stocky body is too heavy for competitive showjumping. Compared to sport horses, the barb horse is relatively small. A majority of African horse breeds are derived from the barb horse, so it has had a significant role in developing other horse breeds worldwide. It was often offered as a gift between royalties In South Africa, Central Africa and Northern Africa in the 1800s.
At a first glance the barb horse looks similar to the Andalusian horse breed, however they have more qualities of hot-blooded horses while still being controllable (similar to the American quarter horse).
The Barb is now bred primarily in Morocco, Algeria, Spain and Southern France.
Barb Horse Characteristics:
- Height: 13.2-15hh
- Temperament: Calm/Intelligent
- Bred for: Western disciplines and farm work
- Colors: A range of different colors including gray, brown, black, bay and chestnut.
- Conformation: Strong legs, short back, high withers
- Breed types: Moroccan Barb, Spanish barb, , Tunisian barb, Algerian barb, Modern barb, Godolphin barb and west African barb horses
- Origins: North African origin
- Lifespan: 20-25 years
Other Horse Breeds from Northern Africa
- Arabian horses
The Arab horse has gained popularity worldwide for its incredible stamina, relatively small size, beauty and intelligence. The Arabian breed is used for long-distance riding such as endurance races in United States. This oriental horse breed is also one of the oldest horse breeds in the world. One of the most famous Arabian horses is the Godolphin Arabian, it was an Arabian stallion that was one of three studs that set the foundation for the thoroughbred breed.
- Dongola horses
Dongola horses is an African breed that is fairly small, standing at 15-15.2hh. They are said to originate from the barb horse too and the breed developed in the African countries Eritrea, Cameroon, and Sudan. It is used as a light riding horse in Africa today and the breed never gained popularity internationally.
- Basuto pony
The Basuto pony is as the name suggests, a small horse. This pony breed can grow up to 14.2hh and originates from Southern Africa. The Basuto pony can be gray, bay, chestnut, black have white markings. The Basuto pony breed is a smaller stockier breed that was used and developed over rocky terrain and a harsh climate which has given the breed great stamina and strong legs. Other unique characteristics of this breed is that it has two more gaits than a normal horse, the triple and pace.