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Unfortunately many of the famous Barb horses in history have been attributed to other breeds, most commonly to the Arabian horse. Since there are many different types of Arabians, but since most people group them all as the general term "Arabians" it was easy for the true Barb to be classed as an Arabian with people that had little experience with the breed. Since the Barb, also known as the Berber, was originally bred in the areas of Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria in North Africa, it was a very tough and hardy horse that was known for its athletic ability, stamina, endurance, and ability to survive on very little. It is also a very fast horse, considered to be one of the most versatile of the Oriental type horses although it is not as famous or well known as the Arabians and Turkomene horses, the other major Oriental horse types.
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Why the Barb did not become a worldwide breed such as the Arabian is likely due to the somewhat limited export of the breed from its native land. Although the Barb was an outstanding military and all around horse, typically they were used as limited foundation stock in many breeds to add endurance, speed, and toughness to the line. It is likely the somewhat stockier and less refined head and conformation of the Barb did not draw the same interest as the traditional Arabian type of horse, leading to its lack of popularity as an independent breed. In addition the Barb horse has a poor reputation that is somewhat undeserved as having a difficult character. In reality the Barb, like any horse, can be either an easy to work with horse or a more challenging horse. The independent nature of the Barb does not make it an ideal mount of a novice rider or a younger child, but each horse needs to be considered on an individual basis to determine its temperament and personality.
There were, however, several very famous Barb horses, particularly the stallions, that were used to influence breeds around the world. The most famous Barb was actually mislabelled an Arabian for generations, but this mistake is now being corrected. The famous Goldolphin Arabian should have actually been known as the Goldolphin Barb. This stallion is credited as being one of the three Oriental stallions along with the Byerley Turk (Turkemene) and the Darley Arabian (true Arabian) that were used to form what is now the modern Thoroughbred breed. In addition a grandson of the Goldolphin Barb that was a Thoroughbred, named Janus, was instrumental in developing the American Quarter Horse breed. The Royal Stud in England featured another famous Barb horse named Roan Barbary, which was historically reported to be the favorite stallion of Richard II.
The Barb breed was also an essential element in many of the gaited horse breeds such as the Peruvian Paso, the Paso Fino, the Spanish Barb, and the Andalusian breed. The South American Criollo is also a distinct breed developed largely on the Africa Barb horse.
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