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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Spanish Barb   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Spanish Barb is a European hotblood Spanish breed that was created by crossing Andalusian horses with north-African Barbs. It is one of the few horse breeds that weren't influenced by Arabian blood, and it should not be confused with the 'Barb', 'Abaco Barb', and 'Spanish Mustang' breeds.

North-African Barbs (see 'Barb') were first introduced to Spain during the first decade of the 8th century, when Muslims from north-west Africa, aided by the Berber tribes who were riding Barb horses, invaded Spain. The Muslims proceeded to take over the entire Iberian Peninsula, and ruled the region until the 15th century. During their reign, many Barb horses were brought from Africa to Spain, and were crossed with Andalusian horses (before the Andalusian received Arabian blood, see 'Andalusian.') The result was the Spanish Barb.

Spanish Barbs combined the endurance of the Barb with the strength and agility of the Andalusian. Furthermore, they also inherited the Andalusian's cow-sense and ability to respond quickly, as well as some of its 'Iberian' conformation (see 'Grade Baroque Horse' for more info.) Therefore, they became popular in Spain, and were widely used for cavalry and for herding cattle.

Following the discovery of America, Spain sent Spanish conquistadors to explore and conquer the new lands. They brought with them Spanish Barbs, which later played a prominent role in the development of nearly all American breeds, but especially in the development of breeds for herding cattle, such as the American Quarter Horse, who owns its cow-sense to its Iberian ancestors.

Because Spanish Barbs proved to be such an excellent breeding stock, they were often crossbred with horses of other breeds, in order to create new breeds, by both the colonists and Native American tribes, especially the Choctaw and the Chickasaw (see 'Chickasaw.') While Native Americans kept their lines relatively pure, the colonists crossbred their Spanish Barbs with imported European horses.

Crossbreeding reached its peak in the 19th century, and led to a decrease in the numbers of purebred Spanish Barbs. This, together with the confiscation and crossbreeding of horses that belonged to the Native Americans by the United States' army, destroyed most of the population of Spanish Barbs. By the 20th century, the Spanish Barb nearly disappeared from North America.

However, not everyone wanted to see this ancient breed being lost, and, during the second half of the 20th century, conservation efforts began to take place, with that of Susan Field-Paulton being the most prominent one. In her breeding program, she used sires and mares from two known lines of pure Spanish Barbs: the McKinley/Romero line, and the Brislawn line which included the A-Ka-Wi, Coche-two, and Sioux lines, which were all Spanish Mustangs, but had the characteristics of Spanish Barbs.

Over the next two decades, through careful breeding and selection of stock that had Iberian conformation and desired performance, Field-Paulton gradually built a herd of Spanish-Barbs who had the conformation of their Spanish ancestors. In 1972, the Spanish Barb Breeders [Horse] Association was established, and the Spanish Barb was officially recognized as a separate breed from the Spanish Mustang.

During the 2000s, two new subtypes of Spanish Mustangs were allowed to be used in the breeding program of Spanish Barbs: the Baca Chica, and the Wilbur-Cruce, both were genetically proven to be pure descendants of the Spanish horses brought by the conquistadors during the 16th century (see 'Baca Chica' and 'Wilbur-Cruce Mustang' for more info.)

At this point, it is important to draw a line between the Spanish Barb and the Spanish Mustang, two breeds that are often confused with each other, probably because both of them descend from Spanish horses that were brought to the Americas by the Spaniards during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Spanish Mustangs were always bred in 'herds,' known as 'subtypes,' with the simple aim of keeping each herd as pure as possible, and avoid outcrossing. As a result, these herds can differ in conformation and color-arrays. Spanish Barbs, on the other hand, were bred not only to remain pure, but to also have the same conformation, movement, and disposition of the original Spanish-Barbs, that were brought by the conquistadors, as described in various records that survived from that period. Accordingly, there are no 'subtypes' within the Spanish Barb, but only one, uniform type.

Today, the Spanish Barb is a rare breed, which is used primarily as a ranch and recreational horse, with many Spanish-Barbs used for herding-cattle and for trail-riding. This breed is known for its smooth-gaits and self-carriage, two traits which it inherited from its Iberian ancestors.


The breeding rules for Spanish Barbs in Horse Isle might seem puzzling at first, but they are in place in order to mimic the way by which Spanish-Barbs were originally created, while also taking into consideration the current purebreeding rules. Therefore, in Horse Isle, it is possible to breed a Spanish Barb by crossing a Barb with an Andalusian, but a Spanish Barb must have two Spanish Barb parents in order to be considered purer. It is allowed to cross Spanish Barbs with Wilbur-Cruce and Baca Chica horses without damaging the purity of the Spanish Barb.


Even though they are termed as 'Barbs,' the conformation of Spanish-Barbs is vastly different from that of their North-African Barb ancestors, and resembles more that of their Iberian ancestors (see 'Barb' and 'Grade Baroque Horse' for more info.)

As such, Spanish Barbs have a slightly deeper head, with a wide forehead that tapers into a small muzzle with large nostrils, a straight or slightly-convex profile, large eyes, and small-to-medium ears that are curved inwards. The neck is noticeably arched, muscular, and has a more prominent crest than the neck of the Barb. The back is short and muscular, and the croup is rounded and muscular as well, unlike the Barb's sloping croup.

Overall, compared to the Barb, the Spanish Barb has a heavier, rounder, and more muscular conformation. The mane and tail can grow long and thick, with the mane sometimes being doubled.

Coats & Height:

Colors: bay, black, brown, chestnut, grey, dun, cream-dilutes, and, more rarely, dominant white.
Additionals: flaxen, roan, sooty, rabicano, linebacked, sabino (Ws and Sb1), tobiano, frame-overo, rare patterns.
Breeding notes: Champagne and pearl don't exist in this breed.
Height: 13.3hh to 15hh

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