Today’s Horse Facts: The Barb – The Great Influencer

The Barb, or Berber horse, is a hardy breed from northern African.

The Barb: The Great Influencer

(To see photos of the Barb, click here)

“Everyone helped his neighbor, and said to his brother, ‘Be of good courage.’”

(Isaiah 41:6)


The Barb, or Berber horse, is a hardy breed from northern African. It’s a mystery where the Barb developed, and it seems to be in competition with the Arabian as the oldest breed alive. No one knows whether the Barb and Arabian horses share a common ancestor, or if the Arabian came before the Barb. Some believe the Barb originated in northern Africa during the 8th Century when Muslim invaders reached the region. Others believe the Barb’s roots include the Arabian horse, the Akhal-Teke, and the Caspian horse. When imported to Europe, the Barbs were sometimes mistaken for Arabians, although they have very different physical characteristics. Regardless of the Barb’s beginnings, the breed has a long history.

Standing only 14.2 to 15.2 hands, the Barb’s a “light” riding horse noted for his stamina and fiery temperament combined with a gentle nature. Small stature doesn’t stop this little guy from having a powerful front end, high withers (shoulders), short back, and a low tail. Although he isn’t known for his gaits, he takes off quickly and gallops like a sprinter. The Barb thrives on meager rations, surefootedness, and speed over short distances. He also has perfect posture for carrying weight and loves to learn from his master. Because of these characteristics, beginning in the 16th Century, they were also trained for dressage in European capitals.

The Barb is now bred primarily in Morocco, Algeria, Spain, and southern France. Due to difficult economic times in North Africa, the number of purebred Barbs is decreasing. The World Organization of the Barb Horse, founded in Algeria in 1987, was formed to preserve the breed.

This spunky equine has had more of a profound effect on racing breeds throughout the world than any other horse except the Arabian. Berber invaders from North Africa took their Barbs to Europe from the early 8th Century on. Once established on the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), the Barb bred with Spanish stock for 300 years to develop the Andalusian and the Lusitano. The Andalusian, a gorgeous and highly prized steed, became a key player in horse breeding all over the world, which included racing breeds such as the Thoroughbred, American Quarter Horse, and Standardbred.

You can notice the influence of the Barb in the Criollo from Argentina, the Paso Fino, and many other Western Hemisphere breeds including the Mustang and the Appaloosa. European noble families also valued the Barb, using the sturdy breed to establish large racing stables. Believe it or not, the Barb also found its way to the Bahamas as well.

Known as the Abaco Barb because it settled on Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas, this equine descended from horses that were shipwrecked during the Spanish colonization of the Americas and the Caribbean. The wild Barbs that ran free on Great Abaco once numbered over 200 horses. But this strain of the Barb breed was found in colors that were different from those of the European/African Barb, including pinto, roan, chestnut, black, and other colors. Unfortunately over the years, the horses died out and no longer roam the Bahamas.

Despite his declining numbers, the Barb, even though small in stature, may have been one of the most important horses in the start of numerous other breeds over the years, more than any other.  What an influence this little horse has had on the equine world!

Speaking of influence, young people can have an influence on those around them. The word “influence” means to have the ability to affect others by the way we behave. Do you know you can have a good influence or a bad influence on others? Which would you like to be?

The Bible tells us that Christians are to have a positive influence on others. A positive influence means helping, encouraging, and giving. Do you willingly help your friends and family? Do you ever say a kind word to family members, or do you complain about the food on the table and the chores you’re to do? And how about giving? If you get an allowance or earn money from your chores, do you give a tithe (10%) back to God?

If you feel God wants you to have more of a positive influence on others, pray and ask Him to help you. God will give you the desire and the ability to do so. Once you practice being a good influencer, you’ll be happier than you’ve ever been before.

PRAYER: Dear God, I want to be a positive influence on others. Help me to always be willing to help others and be ready to encourage and to give. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

Think of a few ways you can be a good influencer and whom you’ll influence.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  An Abaco Barb stallion, Capella, was the model for a 2005 Breyer horse. That model became part of a publicity campaign to support the Barb’s preservation.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24).




Today’s Horse Facts: Rex – My Favorite Horse of All Time

My favorite horse, Rex (part Quarter Horse, part Tennessee Walker), was a perfect gentlemen.

Rex, My Favorite Horse of All Time

My Seventh and Tenth Horse


Rex, My Dream Horse

I guess every horse facts lover who has owned a horse has had a favorite horse. It’s that special horse with whom you bond or have bonded. The one horse that, even after he’s gone for a long time, you still miss him.


Rex and Me a Long Time Ago

So it is with me. My favorite horse was Rex, who was my seventh horse and later became my tenth horse. Yes, I had owned him twice. I had to sell him when we sold our home in the early 70s to move closer to the Christian school where my hubby and I worked. A few years later after we got settled and were able to have horses again, Rex was given back to me, and he died of old age in my pasture when he was about 25 years old. That was over 20 years ago, and I still get tears in my eyes when I think about him. He was quite the horse.

I’m not going to say much more about him; rather, I’ll let you see a few pictures of him. He was part Quarter Horse and part Tennessee Walker and had the smooth stride of a Walker. He was the perfect gentleman with children.


Gentle Rex with Kids

Children could even ride him bareback. He never bit; he never kicked. He would lift one foot at a time when I would nudge his leg to allow me to clean his hooves.

One of my fondest memories is when I’d put sugar in my pockets. Rex would nudge me with his velvety nose right where I had hidden the sugar cubes until I gave them to him.

Although Rex had been shown by his previous owners, I never got into showing him or any of my other horses. Although he was always “show ready” with his stance and demeanor, Rex was just my buddy, my trail pal, my best equine friend.


Rex Squaring Up

I like to think Rex is waiting for me in heaven. If ever a horse deserved that right of passage into eternity, it was my little blood bay Rex.

Rex, I love you and still miss you.

Happy riding!


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Read about foster kid, Skye Nicholson, and her show horse, Champ, and all their exciting adventures.

Today’s Horse Facts: My Fourth Horse, a Cute Pony!

My 4th horse was really my 5th horse. So which one was my 4th?



Well, horse  lovers, I had a blog all ready to post about my fourth horse then I remembered that my fourth horse was really my fifth horse! You’ll see his picture and story next time.

When thinking about my horses down through the years, wango! I suddenly remembered this little pony I bought years and years ago. I think her name was Candy.

My 4th Horse, Candy

Now to this day I don’t know why I bought her because, first of all, she was only a pony and too small for me to ride. Secondly, she wasn’t trained yet. All I can remember about her is that she was so darn pretty, I couldn’t resist when I saw her. I remember lunging her and working with her on a lead rope, but that’s about it. I don’t remember much more about her, like where I got her and when I sold her. I do remember that I didn’t have her for long, but I just enjoyed having her around for a short time, just to love.

Isn’t that just the way it is with us horse facts lovers? We can’t resist a beautiful hunk of horse flesh?

Next time, I’ll tell you about my fifth and sixth horses.

Happy riding!


(Buy a horse book for a friend!)

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Dallis Parker has dreamed about owning a wild Mustang stallion

almost her whole life, but most folks say he doesn’t even exist.

But then in a strange encounter, she

meets Snow face to face, and both their lives are changed.

Today’s Horse Facts: Safety

Nov. 22, 2015

Today’s Horse Facts: Safety for You

and your Horse When You Hit the Trail


Rex, My Favorite Horse to Ride

Nothing is more exciting for a horse facts lover than that first time when you saddle up your new horse, mount, and take off for the dusty trail. Whether you ride in a training corral at a boarding stable, on a trail through the woods, or along the side of a windy road outside of town, you need to embrace some very important safety rules so that both you and your horse enjoy the ride and come back to the barn “together” with no injuries. Let’s take a look at what you should do as you go riding off into the sunset:

Prep Time:

  1. As you tack your horse, make sure the bit is not under his tongue and the cinch is very tight. Check the cinch several times because your horse has probably learned the trick of bloating when you first tighten the cinch.  A loose saddle might send you flying through the air while the saddle slides under the horse’s barrel.
  2. If the weather is hot and “buggy,” wipe down your horse’s entire body with a strong insect repellent. Those nasty horse flies can sting both of you and ruin an otherwise nice relaxing ride. Don’t forget horsie’s ears, belly, and legs.
  3. Check your horse’s four hooves. If he has shoes on, make sure they are not impacted with manure and/or small stones.
  4. Put on your hard hat, which completes your riding outfit of jeans or riding pants and steel-toed boots. You might want to put some of that bug repellent on yourself. Flies love human skin too!

On the Ride:

  1. The best thing you could do, if possible, is go riding with a partner who has a well-trained horse. Your new horse will learn good habits from his furry mentor.
  2. Be aware at all times of distractions which can spook your horse. If you have a new horse, you should have gotten a history about him from his previous owner.  Is the horse gun shy? How is he with cars passing him on a road? How does he respond to a gate swinging open? How about water? If you don’t know the answers to these questions before you start riding, be very careful. You a treading on dangerous ground. A spooked horse can give you a ride back to the barn that you will never forget.
  3. As you ride, try to maintain a semi-relaxed state in the saddle. The horse can feel your apprehension and nervousness. If you are on the trail and you approach a patch of water or a small bridge and he balks, proceed with caution. It might be better to dismount and try to walk your horse through or around the obstacle.
  4. Don’t run your horse on macadam roads or through heavy brush. You might wind up on the ground while horsie is taking off toward the barn without you. Believe me because it happened to me when foolishly running on a street a few hundred yards from my home after a rain. I wiped out! Macadam roads are very slippery to a horse’s hooves, even if you have barium on the shoes. And low-hanging branches on trees are a sure wipeout!
  5. If the weather is hot, don’t run your horse into a lathered sweat, especially an older horse. Horses can have heat strokes, which can be deadly. My sweet Rex, who’s gone to horsie heaven a long time now, had a heat stroke one hot July afternoon, and I wasn’t riding him. He was just standing in my small corral and collapsed. Fortunately, I was able to get in touch with my vet, who told me to get Rex on his feet, walk him, get him to the salt block, and wipe him down. Rex lived a few more years after that and never had a heat stroke again. But that one time scared the wits out of me.
  6. On your way home from your ride, never release the reins to allow your horse to have his full head. Are you crazy? At any moment, a squawking bird, a loud backfire, or a slamming door could spook horsie, and you’ll be dumped on your rump!

Barn Time:

  1. When dismounting at the barn, give your horse a big hug and kiss. Horses respond to affection of all kinds from their owners. A few sugar cubes or slices of apple will seal the affection between you two forever.
  2. Untack your horse, air the blanket to allow the horse’s sweat to dry, and clean the slobbery bit before storing in the tack room.
  3. Do not allow him to drink water or eat grain if he is lathered and puffing. (Founder!)
  4. Walk your horse for at least 15 minutes to cool him down. Even in cold weather, the horse will work up a sweat. In fact, cold weather is as dangerous as hot weather. If horsie gets a chill, he could develop pneumonia. After a hard ride, he should be walked, groomed, and then blanketed for several hours. He can have water and grain after he has cooled down.
  5. Clean his hooves.
  6. Kiss him again and either release him into the pasture or lock him in his stall for a nice well-deserved nap.

Now, there you have the basics about caring for your horse as you ride him. Horses are powerful animals, but they respond to love, affection, and training with the proper attitude and equipment. If you want a happy horse, treat him with the respect he deserves.

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Dallis Parker has dreamed about owning a wild Mustang stallion,

but most folks say he doesn’t even exist. But then in a strange encounter, she

meets Snow face to face.

Today’s Horse Facts: English or Western?

The English and Western styles of riding are as different as night and day.

July 17, 2015

English or Western?

It’s just one of those known horse facts that I suppose many equestrians ride their horses in the way, or style, they’ve been taught. By style, I mean either English or Western, two distinctly different techniques to ride a mount. By the way, the horse must be trained in either English, Western, or both because the techniques are so different.

Let’s briefly look at these two riding styles so you understand the major differences between them:
English vs. Western
1. English is known as the formal riding style while Western is considered more laid-back. The major difference between English and Western, besides the saddles and riders’ attire, is that with English riding, the rider holds each of two reins with his hands separated, a rein in each hand. In Western, the rider holds both reins in one hand and “neck reins” the horse to turn him left or right.
English.Saddle2. The English saddle is usually lighter and is the “bare necessity” with a thick pad underneath to support the rider. It has no horn (protruding stem) on the front of the saddle to help the rider hang on, and the stirrups hang freely. The Western saddle is much heavier, usually has fancy cut leather, has the horn, and fancy fenders with stirrups on the end.
3. Although the walk and canter are similar, riding the horse’s trot is quite different in both styles. In English, the rider must learn to “post” or raise himself forward out of the saddle with every other beat of the horse’s trot. In Western, the rider “sits” the entire time during a trot.Western Saddle
4. Although Western riding is the most popular for trail riding, both English and Western riding styles are used in show-ring competition. It’s quite easy to spot the difference in dress, though. In Western competition, the riders look like they’re riding the range out West. In English showing, the riders look like they’re on their way to a tea with Queen Elizabeth. However, in both competitions, even in rodeos, contestants are seen wearing helmets, or “hard hats,” to protect themselves from serious injury.

We could go on with other differences in the riding styles, but for a start, let’s say you’ve just gotten “the scoop” on riding English or Western.