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It is not exactly known where the Barb developed, but the breed originated in Northern Africa during the 8th century, about the time that Islamic invaders reached the region. There is considerable controversy over whether the Barb and Arabian horses share a common ancestor or if the Arabian was a predecessor of the Barb. It is possible that a native horse of the region was influenced by the crossing of multiple "oriental" breeds, including the Arabian horse, Turkmenian or Akhal-Teke, Caspian horse, with Iberian horses brought back from Europe by the Moorish invaders after they conquered southern Spain. Today there are several varieties of Barb, including the Algerian, Moroccan, and Tunisian. When imported to Europe, they were sometimes mistaken for Arabians, even though they have distinctly different characteristics, in part because their handlers were northern African Muslims who spoke Arabic. The Godolphin Arabian, which was one of the foundation sires for the thoroughbred breed, may have been a Barb stallion, and is sometimes called the Godolphin Barb. It is now bred primarily in Morocco, Algeria, Spain, and southern France, although, due to difficult economic times in its homeland, the number of pure-bred Barbs is decreasing. The World Organization of the Barb Horse, founded in Algeria in 1987, was formed to promote and preserve the breed. However, due to political situations, it is difficult to say how much of an increase in numbers or purity the breed will have.

Developed on the Barbary Coast of North Africa, the Barb is a desert horse, with great hardiness and stamina. Due to the amount of cross-breeding, it is difficult to find a pure-bred Barb today. The horses generally possess a fiery temperament and an atypical sport-horse conformation, but nevertheless has had an incredible impact on today's modern breeds.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Barb".