The Barb horse is one of the oldest breed in the world. Probably originated from the primitive Mongolian horse from which it has some characteristics, the Barb horse would have installed in Africa during Prehistory. The Barb thoroughbred, unlike what was supposed, would be native from North Africa (Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya). According to Yasmina Chaïd Saoudi, a doctor in animal paleontology, the skeletons exhumed in Algeria during archaeological excavations would prove the presence of ancestral horses between 30000 and 10800 years AC. Indeed, there are many similarities between Equus algericus and the barb horse.


Origin of the Barb breed


Rupestrian representations of those horses, discovered in the Saharian Atlas on Neolithic paintings, would confirm their presence (N Lhote, 1952).

The Barb horse has been bred since Antiquity for hunting, war, pulling up and work. It is the traditional companion of the Atlas and High Plateaux nomads and breeders

Romans already mentioned this horse more than 2000 years ago as the ”horse from the Barbary coast”.  Many of them were imported into Europe from the 7th century where they were excellent as warriors. In France, it’s when talking about King Henry 3 that the barb horse is mentioned for the first time. But the king who really took interest in the thoroughbred was Henry 4, who even bred them. The famous royal equerry Antoine de Pluvinel used Barb horses in his equestrian academy and future king Louis 13 learned equitation on one of their representatives, named Bonitte.

The Barb is also the origin of many other breeds such as the English thoroughbred, the Spanish thoroughbred, the Lusitanian, the Argentinian Criollo or the Mustang.

If you have a passion for the Barb horse, please surf on the internet sites of the French Association of the Barb Horse (AFCB) or the Belgian Association of Barb Horse  (ABCB). Excellent books also exist, among which “le cheval barbe”, from E. J. Roux, Maisonneuve edition 1987 as well as the written works of D. Bogros, E. Beudant and many others.


Characteristics of the Barb horse


Its bravery is well known. It is frank and affectionate. It is devoted to its human “companion”. The Barb horse is able to let itself fade away if it feels abandoned.

It is peaceful and even lymphatic at rest. It “babouche”?, with its lower lip hanging. But when, at riding, it is solicited, it bubbles.  It is lively, comfortable and very agile. It is surefooted. It is quick and has a lot of stamina. Instinctively, it can spare its efforts.

It is a tough horse. It can be happy with a pool of water, a watermelon or a melon for drinking. It is easy to look after. It several times proved it can resist to deprivations. It can be hungry and thirsty. But if it is well fed, it will raise in height and in beauty.

It is very intelligent and learns very quickly. But be careful not to deceive it because it could be rebellious to any excesses of violence and authority. Because the breed is ancient, it is a late horse. It is mature at 7 years, at least. You can take advantage of this period to create strong emotional ties. Then, it will give you its quintessence and with it, you will taste Paradise!

One of the Barb horse characteristics is that it has five lumbar vertebrae, instead of six. The lumbar  vertebrae are the weak part of the spine of the horse, because they are floating such as a suspension bridge and are only tightened by the muscles (that point is no more known nowadays). The fact that the Barb only has 5 lumbar vertebrae puts less strain on those muscles. This would explain, among others, the legendary resistance and stamina of the Barb horse, which, nevertheless, keeps a great suppleness of its back.


Different types encountered in the horse beard


The standard of the breed, acknowledged by the French studbook of the Barb horse, lists the following: medium-height (from 1.45 to 1.60 m), “square” shaped, grey, chestnut and bay Coloured (there are still some piebald subjects in black Africa), above all, the Barb can be recognized by its typical head and hindquarters.

Its head is powerful and rather long, the forehead is narrow and slightly convex. Its cheeks are rather large and, at medium height, it has a massive, straight neck. The nose is straight or convex with a marked nose bone. Its dark eyes, very expressive, are set high. Its nostrils are wide and receding. The lower lip is heavy, sometimes drooping. The ears are small and oriented backwards at rest. The mane is abundant and thick.

The withers are high and its back, short and tensed, underlines its strength. It has an oblique, sloping croup. The specific low-set tail seems to be hidden in the profile of the buttock. The shortened thigh enables the rear legs to pass under the horse. The shoulder is long and sloping. The limbs are dry, tough with broad joints. The tendons, also dry, are well defined. The hoovers, provided with a very hard horn, are small. The chest is wide and deep.

It is a powerful, efficient and tough horse, enduring either cold or warm weather (even though it doesn’t like humidity very much).

Inside this general morphology, according to the biotopics, the human selection and the use, there are several types within the Barb breed (source Chantal Chekroun).