2017 - Volume #41, Issue #5, Page #23[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Rare Spanish Barb Horses On The “Critical” List
The Spanish Barb breed is “the horse that discovered America” according to the Spanish Barb Horse Association. Breeders love the history and the breeds, many good traits, including a lot of smarts and durability.
According to the SBHA website: “The horses survived weeks of sailing to the New World from Spain, slung in the dark belly of ships and then adapted to a vastly different and often hostile environment. It was upon this horse’s back that the Americas were settled.”
The endangered breed was vital to the missions and settlements in Northern Mexico and the American Southwest.
A couple of centuries later, a group of horses from this area were herded north to sell in the stockyards of Kansas City. On an early stop of the drive, ranch owner Dr. Reuben Wilbur purchased 25 mares and a stallion. He turned them loose on his high desert Arizona ranch where they multiplied and thrived. Because they handled the rugged terrain so easily, they were referred to as “little rock horses”.
Isolated for 113 years, the herd known as the Wilbur-Cruce strain, makes up the majority of the fewer than 200 horses on the SBHA registry, says registrar Heidi Collings. There are other breed registries with numerous different lines. The SBHA focuses on preserving the breed’s original characteristics, which make them such willing and capable mounts.
“They are extremely hardy, easy keepers that don’t require grain,” says Marjorie Dixon, former SBHA president.
At 14 to 15 hands tall, they are a comfortable size for older people and make great trail horses, Dixon says. They can handle extreme climates. Spanish Barb horses have a distinctly refined head and overall appearance of balance and smoothness including round hips and clean legs. They come in all colors and patterns.
“Our members do everything with them from dressage to ranch work. They are a jack of all trades,” Collings adds. “They may not win contests, but they do well at anything you ask them to do.”
Saving and perpetuating the breed is the goal of the SBHA, Dixon says. Breeders can be found through the association’s website. Horses average $1,000 to $3,500, depending on age and the level of their training.
“Most people buy them for recreation, because they are extremely dependable,” she says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, SBHA, Heidi Collings, P.O. Box 30, Mule Creek, New Mexico 88051; www.spanishbarb.com; firstname.lastname@example.org).
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