Abaco Barb Mare

Category: Horses

A true desert horse, the Barb is uniquely suited to hot, dry climates and can thrive on limited, poor-quality feeds. Although it is a desert horse like an Arabian, the Abaco Barb Mare is significantly different from Arabians. They have convex faces, long backs and sloping tail profiles, while Arabians have concave faces, shorter backs and high tail profiles. Barbs are noted for their swiftness, endurance and surefootedness, as well as their fiery spirits.

Abaco Barb Mare

Abaco Barb Mare

Scientific & Common Names

Genus & Species - Equus ferus caballus

Common Names - Arab Barb, Barb, Berber Horse, sometimes incorrectly called the Spanish Barb in America


Abaco Barb Mare horses are small in stature, only reaching between 13 and 15 hands in height. Typical Barbs have small, hard feet, arched necks and rounded hindquarters. Barbs are available most commonly in gray, but they also can be found in chestnut, bay, black and brown.


Similar to most horses, Arab Barb mares can be bred as early as 2 years of age but are often managed so that they will not have their first foals before age 4. Mares carry their foals for about 11 months before giving birth. Stallions can breed mares at 2 years of age, but conscientious horse breeders typically prefer to wait until age 3 to allow their stallions to breed.


Arab Barbs are hot-blooded desert horses with high-strung, independent natures. Barbs can be rather unpredictable, and they should be owned and trained only by skilled, experienced horsemen. They are bred for speed and spirit, so those who enjoy working with strong-willed, fast-running horses will enjoy their fiery natures.


The Arab Barb originated in Northwestern Africa. Inhabitants of what is now known as Morocco likely tamed wild horses of the Barb type that roamed the area. When Islam spread through Europe, Barbs spread as well. In 1987, the World Organization of the Barb Horse was created. However, this organization allows the crossing of Arabian blood lines into its horses, so true Arab Barbs are getting rarer.

Present Status

Finding horses with pure Barb blood is difficult. These horses have been interbred with other breeds, especially Arabians. In the 1950s David Painter gathered as many horses with distinctive Barb characteristics as he could to help preserve this ancient breed. These high-spirited horses remain quite rare.