Barb Horse Facts And Information – Breed Profile

The Barb horse is popularly considered a North African breed that possesses an unusual sport-horse contour. Currently, the breed is majorly used to develop other breeds of horses, especially raging horse stocks such as Standardbred, American Quarter Horse, and Thoroughbred.

Just like the Arabian horses, the Barbs are also considered desert horses. Even though the Barbs are ancestors of many other breeds, it is quite less popular than the Arabian breed.

On the contrary, some experts also believe that the Barbs could be even older than the Arabian breed.

Spanish Mare Barb Horse


According to paleontologists and DNA analysis, the Barb is believed to have originated in the coastal region of North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Tunisia, and Libya), which used to be known as the Barbary Coast. The monuments present in North Africa (from Libya to Morocco) tell the tale of this breed’s origin along with the paintings and rock engravings.

There is an ongoing debate on whether the Barb and Arabian horses shared a common ancestor or if Arabian horses are predecessors of the Barb horse breed.

It is believed that during the invasion of Europe, Berber invaders bred their horses with the Spanish stock in the Iberian peninsula. This helped in developing the Andalusian breed, which was used as a major breeding stock across the globe.

When the Berbers introduced the Barb breed to Europe, they were mistakenly recognized as Arabian horses. Interestingly, the Barb did not physically resemble the Arabian horses. This confusion may have started because Barbs had almost the same size as the Arabians and their Muslim Berber handlers’ native language was Arabic.

The Barb horse breed and the Arabian horse breed most probably had a major influence on the racing stock, compared to other horse breeds. After the 14th century, the Barb became quite popular and was highly valued in Europe, especially for noble families who had huge racing stables.

Currently, the Barb is primarily bred in Algeria, Morocco, Southern France, and Spain. However, the purebred Barbs are decreasing in number due to the economic hardships in North Africa. This is why the World Organization of the Barb Horse was founded in 1987 in Algeria. This organization works toward promoting and protecting the breed.


Compared to the Arabian horses, a Barb horse is somewhat taller with longer legs and has an average height of 150 cm (almost 15 hands), when measured at the withers.

The Barbs have a less cultivated head that is rarely found straight. Along with that, either the entire head profile (Roman head/nose) or only the forehead is mostly bulged out. The eyes are somewhat egg-shaped and smaller in size. Similarly, the nostrils are not round either or wide, as found in Arabians.

They have longer face contours with narrower jaws as compared to the Arabian horses. These horses have a longer, lower set and often backward-bent neck (Elk neck/U-neck). Their backs are longer with sloping hindquarters and the tail is lower-set.

These characteristics of the Barbs’ heads make it quite obvious that the Barbs are mixed with western horses.


Just like any horse breed, a Barb requires a healthy, and nutritious diet that satisfies their hunger and gives them strength. Along with feeding them fodder, add dry roughage to complete their feed.

It is important to understand that the diet should be approximately two times the horse’s body weight. So, for example, if the horse weighs 900 lbs you should have around 1800 lbs of feed available.

Talking about the particular feed you should include in the diet, grain hays and grass hays would be great. Of course, the size of the horse, and its activity influence the amount and the quality of the hay you need to feed it with.


In the past, private owners located in England used the Barbs to build the Thoroughbred, which is popularly known in the horse racing world. The Barb has majorly influenced many horse breeds such as the Mustang, the Appaloosa, the American Quarter Horse, the Paso Fino, and the Argentinian Criollo.

Currently, the Barbs are majorly bred in Morocco, Southern France, Algeria, and Spain. They’re now more commonly bred with the Arabian horses, as the Arab-Barb mixed bloodline is a much more capable desert horse.


As already mentioned above, this breed of horse is taller than an Arabian horse. The Barb breed horses are usually 14.2-15.2 hands tall, which roughly converts to 1.47 to 1.57 meters, at the withers.

Typically, the Barbs weigh anywhere between 900 and 1000 lbs, like any other horse.

What Breeds Make Up A Barb Horse?

The Barb is a North African riding horse that is popular for its amazing stamina and sturdiness. As already mentioned, it’s still debatable whether the Barbs and the Arabians have a common ancestor, the Arabian horses are their ancestors or the Barbs are older than the Arabians.

Currently, purebred Barbs are scarce and what the majority of people find are Barbs that were either crossed with Arabian horses (Arab-Barb) or crossed with western horses.

There are many sub-breeds such as the Moroccan Barb, Algerian Barb, Abaco Barb, the West African Barb, and the Spanish Barb.


These horses are not majorly identified by their color. Moreover, there are so many sub-breeds that the color variations are only natural. Therefore, the registry accepts different colors of Barbs.

Majorly, the Barbs are found in Chestnut, Brown, Black, Bay, and Gray color. However, you may find some other colors of Barbs too (mixed breed of course) in different regions.

Where Do They Live?

The Barb is presently reared fundamentally in Morocco, Algeria, Spain, and Southern France. Recognizable sorts or sub-breeds incorporate the Moroccan Barb, the West African Barb, Tunisian Barb, Algerian Barb, Spanish Barb, and Abaco Barb.

What Do They Look Like?

The Barb has a straight or marginally bended profile, and a neck that is somewhat calculated. You will likewise see that these ponies grandstand level, upstanding shoulders.

The front of this horse’s body is amazing, with high withers. Also, the hindquarters are sloping, thin, and adjusted, while the back is medium or short in length. 

You will likewise observe that the croup could be marginally daring or changed. It has a lower-set tail, like the mane, it is full. This pony additionally has slim legs that are great and strong, and the feet are intense and tight, while the hooves are smaller and somewhat round in shape.

The Barbs also have medium or short-long ears. The head is fixed towards a little gag, and the brow will be broad.

The stride of the Barb permits it to run comparable as a runner. These horses additionally have a high proportion of endurance, and they can go over critical distances regardless of when food supplies are limited. The variety’s improvement is agile, and it is likewise impervious to dry seasons.

Generally speaking, this horse looks somewhat smooth and adjusted. There is profundity of body and neck, a refined head, very much set and clean legs, and roundness of hip that consolidate to make this an alluring breed.

What Are They Used For?

These horses have a willing character, so it tends to be utilized for an assortment of purposes. Barbs are utilized as military horses and for horticultural purposes. They are additionally ideal horses for general riding, and they can even be utilized in serious equine games. They additionally discover their utilization in numerous rivalries. 

Due to a limited extent to economic troubles in North Africa, the number of thoroughbred Barbs is diminishing. Notwithstanding, they are a much-respected breed and are normally utilized for ranch work, grouping and dealing North Africa with domesticated animals, formal parades, significant distance riding, draft work, and joy riding.

They are additionally a mainstream mount in the Moroccan tbourida, or fantasia celebration, in which enormous soldiers of horsemen re-authorize wartime cavalry charges.

Are They Good For Beginners?

The Barb has a willing character, so it tends to be utilized for an assortment of purposes. For instance, these creatures have been effectively utilized in both agribusiness and the military. They are additionally ideal horses for general riding, and they can even be utilized in serious equine sports. 

These horses are awesome to work with on the grounds that they have an enthusiasm to realize, which makes them simple to prepare. They are additionally delicate and accommodating in nature, making them a superb equine ally for horse proprietors, riders, and coaches, everything being equal.

How Long Do They Live?

Since the currently available Barbs are majorly crossbreds, they do not have an extraordinary lifespan. Due to the mixing of modern horse bloodlines, they now typically have a lifespan of anywhere between 25 and 30 years.


Barb horses are typically a very good breed of horse, and one of the oldest too. Owning one will surely make you proud. They’re multi-purpose as mentioned in this article.

Why not bookmark this mini-guide for later when you own a Barb so you can get to understand your horse even better.

There’s a whole world of horse breeds out there to explore! Discover and find out more information by checking out our horse breed guides.