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Spanish Barbs are descended from stock initially brought to the Americas during  the time of Colonial Spain, beginning in 1493. Today, they are part of a classification of horses commonly known as North American Colonial Spanish horses.

The term Spanish Barb Horse was used because they are thought to be a blend of indigenous horses from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), and the Barb horses from North Africa. These crosses produced some of the most highly prized horses of the era and were sought after to improve other horse types.

"Today’s Spanish Barbs are a direct remnant of those original Iberian saddle horses from the Golden Age of Spain and are a treasure chest of genetic wealth and desirable qualities from long ago". D.P. Sponenberg, DVM, PhD, Associate Professor, Pathology and Genetics, Technical Panel Chair, American Rare Breeds Conservancy, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, VPI & SU, Blacksburg, VA, 1991.

Many of today’s modern breeds began with a healthy infusion of Barb genetics, including the American Quarter Horse, American Paint Horse, Andalusians, Lusitanos and many American gaited breeds.  Peruvian Pasos, Paso Finos and Criollos are all close cousins of the Spanish Barb Horse. Because of mere serendipity, North American Spanish Barb Horses were preserved in their original state as most ran wild in this country.  The Spanish Barb Horses of Mexico and South America were managed in captivity and selected for traits that caused a divergence from original genetic make-up. The classical Baroque style of the Spanish Barb as with all Iberian descended breeds is displayed by their natural carriage, intelligence and sensible temperament.


Along side their beauty, Spanish Barb Horses possess these special traits:

  • Sensible minds 

  • Quiet energy

  • Intelligent

  • Easily trained

  • Strong desire to please and bond with their human 

  • Smooth gaited 

  • Athleticism combined with endurance

  • Versatile

  • Natural cow sense

  • Durable hooves

  • Adapted to rugged terrain, making excellent trail horses

  • Easy keepers

  • Excellent family horses

Critically Rare

Why is the Spanish Barb Horse Genetically Unique
and Historically Important ? 


Hidalgo, 2nd Generation

WC,  Owned by Marjorie

and Jerry Dixon

The Spanish Barb Horse is critically rare and is in great need of preservation. 
Both The Livestock Conservancy and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, consider the various strains of Spanish Colonial Horse to be of great interest as they represent a very small breed of horses that is uninfluenced by Arabian or Thoroughbred blood. Therefore, this genetic pool is a very rare source of genetic diversity. Over time, modern managed breeds tend to become less and less diverse genetically. Genetic diversity represents health and an ability to adapt to a changing environment. For example, Spanish Barb genetics that have stood hundreds of years of natural selection, could help to eradicate unwanted traits or genetically linked diseases through judicious out crossing. This practice of introducing unrelated genetic material into a breeding line, increases genetic diversity, which reduces the probability of an individual being subject to disease or genetic abnormalities.


Historically, the Spanish Barb Horse played an essential role in the development of North America. The Conquistadores depended on their horses for exploration and to meet their goal to claim this new land for Spain. Their horses literally kept them alive in an often hostile environment.


Spain sent Missionary Padres to evangelize the native people and to set up “visitas” (small towns), as well as build impressive churches as they pressed forward into unexplored land. They too, depended entirely on the horse to accomplish their goals.


As time passed, ranchers placed their cattle and other livestock on the land, requiring the critical use of horses to oversee their animals and to gather, brand and ship animals for sale.


Native Americans quickly realized that horse were better for riding than eating and prized them so that they developed their culture to include the horse. The numbers of horses owned became a sign of wealth and prosperity.


None of the aforementioned could have been accomplished had it not been for the Spanish Barb Horse.

Historical Contribution of the Spanish Barb Horse


Yearlings From Heidi Collings'
Breeding Program

Orejano foal.jpg

Orejano at Three Months Old

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