The Arabian horse is one of the earliest "improved" breed of horse, valued for its speed, stamina, beauty, intelligence, and gentleness. The Arabian horse has contributed its qualities to most of the modern breeds of light horses today.
Its long history is obscured by legend, but the Arabian breed, prized for its stamina, intelligence, and character. The Arabian Horse is known to have been developed in Arabia since the 7th century AD. It is a compact horse with a small head, protruding eyes, wide nostrils, marked withers, and a short back. It usually has only 23 vertebrae, while 24 is the usual number for other breeds.
The Barb Horse; a native horse breed of the Barbary states of North Africa, is related to, and probably an offshoot of the Arabian horse but is larger, with a lower placed tail, and has hair at the fetlock (above and behind the hoof). The coat color is usually bay or brown. Like the Arabian, it is noted for speed and endurance. A variety known as the Spanish-Barb is bred in small numbers.
The Arabian is the oldest recognized breed of horse in the world, and is thought to have originated in Arabia before 600 AD. Though its history is lost in the past, the breed probably descended from the Libyan horse, which, in turn, was probably preceded by horses of similar characteristics in Assyria, Greece, and Egypt as early as 1000 BC.