Alfred de Dreux, An African groom holding a stallion with a dog

The Moorish Occupation and Influence of the Barb Horse. 

The Andalusian’s famed ability as a warhorse was to spread and grow with history. The horse became the favored most by European kings and generals. By the middle ages the Spanish horse was spread throughout Europe in the every kingdom. The most significant event in the Andalusian’s history occurred in 710-711 AD when the Moors invaded the allies of Spanish Lords who were at odds with their king. Within seven years they had taken possession of Iberian Peninsula and named it Al-Andalus.

The important factor to the Andalusian breed was in the horses which the Moors brought with them. Most accounts the cavalry they brought were Berbers with Barb horses and fairly limited in number. The Arab people accounted been brought into battle in Spain were recorded as mainly infantry. So, it was the Barb horse, not the Arabian would have influenced the Iberian horses at this time.

However the question is raised did the Barb have more influence Andalusian or did the Andalusian more influence the Barb. The truth is probably that both were influenced by least a small way, however we have the written account of, Tarif Aben Taric, a Moorish chronicler of the time that the Moors found the Iberian horses to be bigger and better than their own as well as more numerous. The contemporary scribes (notably: Ben Adhary, Al Makkari, El Doby, El Silerense) wrote that the Moors requisitioned captured Andalusian horses and used them in their ensuing battles converting their infantry into a Calvary.

El Suspiro Del Moro By Marcelino De uncenta In this picture represents Unceta progress Boabdil, the last king of Granada, into exile with his entourage. The King appears, with turban and robe, on the back of a black Arabian horse richly caparisoned. With this painting the author demuesra his mastery of drawing and modeling chiaroscuro. The graying chromatic breaks with touches of gold and red. Marcelino Unceta introduced this canvas Aragonese Regional Exhibition of 1885 in a gesture of courtesy, as a member of the jury and director of facilities.

El Suspiro Del Moro By Marcelino De uncenta
In this picture represents Unceta progress Boabdil, the last king of Granada, into exile with his entourage. The King appears, with turban and robe, on the back of a black Arabian horse richly caparisoned. With this painting the author demuesra his mastery of drawing and modeling chiaroscuro. The graying chromatic breaks with touches of gold and red.
Marcelino Unceta introduced this canvas Aragonese Regional Exhibition of 1885 in a gesture of courtesy, as a member of the jury and director of facilities.

This indicates that no great numbers of horses were brought from North Africa and that the Moors found the Andalusian be worth possessing and may have taken them back to their homelands.

That the Barb and the Andalusian horse are related either by ancient connection or by mixing during the occupation Iberian Peninsula is evident. The two breeds have many characteristics in common. Both tend to have low set rounded croups with short to medium length backs. Both have well crested, medium length necks. The head does show some oriental influence but is not dished like an Arabian’s head. It is not as truly subconvex as an but tends to be somewhere in between. It is unfortunate that the Barb horse has been so confused with the Arabian with which it has less in common. It is entirely possible that the Barb horse is an ancient admixture of the Iberian the Arab horse as it is geographically found between the cradles of origin of these two breeds..


In pre-historic bridge between the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa would have allowed the mixing of these two types into Barb. The modern Barb undoubtedly received further mixing with the Iberian blood during the occupation which explain why it is so like the Andalusian horse.

In any case there is no evidence that any significant amount of foreign blood was introduced to the Andalusian Moorish occupation but that what mixing occurred was with the Barb horse. The Andalusian horse has little in common with the Arabian Horse other than the fact that blooded horses and both have contributed extensively to the development of most other modern horse breeds.

The testimony to the Moors being already advanced horse breeders can be seen in the fact that they did not liquidated this very much strange (when compared to the Barb horse) type of horse, but that they’ve refined it by crossbreeding it with the Arabian and Barb horses; they valued the body figures of these crossbreeds, as well as, the higher gaits, which they more likely inherited from some of the Barb horses.


With careful selection, training and living conditions of the crossbreeds the Moors laid the foundation for the Old Spanish horse, which was in it’s purest form bred in the southern Spain, in Andalusia, where the Moors had huge stud-farms, especially around Cordoba; hence this horse is/was also called the Andalusian.  Their name was “villanos” or “genetti”, Italian “crosier”. We are relatively well informed about their exterior thanks to the contemporary famous Spanish master painters.


UNSPECIFIED - DECEMBER 10: Moorish knight and horse, drawing by Jacopo Ligozzi (1547-1627). (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

UNSPECIFIED – DECEMBER 10: Moorish knight and horse, drawing by Jacopo Ligozzi (1547-1627). (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

The Barb was an important component of the Arab–Berber armies that entered Spain. During the early years of Islamic expansion, Arab forces had moved on foot and fought as infantry accompanied by small contingents of camel cavalry, for the Arabian horse was too highly valued to use as a cavalry mount. The Barb, the native horse of North Africa, was a breed especially well suited to the so-called “jineta” style of riding, in which the rider relied on his horse to place him in position to throw, thrust, parry or dodge as required. Named after the Zanatah tribe of what is today Algeria, this style required a steed trained to anticipate the rider’s actions and obey without hesitation.


Seldom taller than 14 hands, Barbs were nimble and responsive to the slightest touch of the reins. They were accustomed to harsh environments, strong, surefooted, fleet yet smooth. Their strong loins and quick intelligence enabled them to master and perform the quick turns and elevated positions required in close combat. Most of all, the Barb had extreme courage, and was unfazed by blows and wounds. To the contrary, Barbs often seemed to relish a fight.



Under Muslim rule in al-Andalus, an important new fusion of Barb and Spanish blood took place. The result was the Andalusian, which nearly 300 years of Umayyad patronage refined in the grasslands around Córdoba to become one of the most beautiful horses of all time.

As the years went by, the Andalusian was periodically refreshed with new Barb blood, especially after 930 when Ceuta and other North African cities entered the Umayyad orbit. “Horses of the highest quality” were transported to Cordoba, wrote scholar Maribel Fierro. By the end of the 10th century, al-Mansur had become famous throughout the Muslim world for his stud and his special strain of Barb warhorses.


The later Almoravid and Almohad Dynasties (1090–1145 and 1145–1212 respectively) were both Berber in origin, and it must be assumed that the northbound traffic in Barb horses continued during the years of their rule.

As a result, there can be little doubt that the Muslim rulers of al-Andalus rode the finest horses of their time.

The proponents of various horse breeds love to speak of the antiquity of their particular breed but the truth is that breeders were much more pragmatic in prior times and may not have had exactly our modern concept of what a pure bred should be. Over the centuries breeders respond to the dictates of equestrian fashion and functional needs. The nature and numbers of particular horse types and the local equestrian gene pool has been ever changing as a result.

The Moors also introduced a Style of riding, and their saddles on their horses.

Once Moorish horses came to Spain they met with horses of different backgrounds. Heavier European mounts were interbred with the lighter Moorish horses and refined into a new light horse type, called the Jennet. Further refinements of Spanish horses created the modern Andalusian breed, the parent breed of the Lipizzaners. Jennets often tended to be natural pacers rather than trotters when moving at a faster gait than a walk. In the days prior to the discovery of posting, a slow pace was considered the preferred gait for a saddle horse. The Jennet horse was refined into the various future South American gaited breeds; for example, the Paso Fino.


Three Images showing the à la estradiota Seat
The Style of European Knights and a Mexican Lancer c. 1848
Notice Legs extended forward, long stirrups and toes down

Of equal importance to the horse bred, was the Moorish riding seat style and saddle. European knights rode in a style called à la estradiota by the Spanish. Images of knights show the legs held straight and positioned forward with long stirrup leathers. The à la estradiota style saddle was deep seated with a pommel and cantle built up. Its goal was to allow the rider to remain in the saddle and absorb the impact of a lance during combat or when jousting. However, the Spanish learned of a second style of riding from the Moors called à la gineta (or à la jineta). Here the rider has an upright body, bent knee, shorter stirrup leathers, and balanced seat. The à la jineta style proved good for light cavalry and allowed the rider more movement in the saddle. Stability and maneuverability were not only valued qualities on the battlefield but also in the bull fighting arena where the mounted Picador throws lances into the neck muscles of the bull in the early stages of the bull fight. In fact, it is basically à la jineta type seat that English riders use today, although the hunt seat likely did not have a Spanish antecedent. Spanish riders rode in both à la estradiota and à la gineta according to the task at hand and each style had its own particular saddle designs.

During the Reconquista the Spanish Christians expelled the Moors from Spain and honed their skills as cavalrymen. In 1492 Columbus launched a wave of Spanish conquests in the Americas during which the mounted horseman functioned as a terror weapon against the native American Indians who had never before seen horses. The Spanish established stud farms in the Americas to provide mounts and soon produced large numbers of horses. At the same time cattle ranching was developing in Mexico. The horse and rider, originally instruments of war, evolved into the Mexican landowning gentleman caballeros and their ranch hands, the vaqueros (cowboys). However, this was not only a story of human cultures; it was also a story of horses. The Spanish Jennet horse once introduced in the Americas often escaped domestication and became the feral Mustang, equally the stuff of legends. The various Spanish saddle types also evolved into today’s western saddle. The Mexican ranching culture was passed on to the American settlers in Texas and is so familiar to us today that few of us realize that the original heritage is not an Anglo one. The roots of the our Western riding style and Western saddle carry back to old Spain and beyond that all the way to the Arabian Peninsula.

The Moors incorporated the boot into their own riding style. Then, the Moors brought the boot and stirrup to what is now known as Spain. The Spanish came to the new world, and the very first cowboys on the North American continent appeared in Mexico. These vaqueros, who lived and worked in California, were the biggest influence on cowboy culture.

“In many cases, the horsemen who came with the Spanish to the New World were Arabs—Moors, specifically, from their six-hundred year presence in Spain. Although they had converted (rather than die), they were still outsiders. So they took their exemplary horsemanship and gear—like the spur I had found or la Jineta, the Muslim cavalry saddle—and signed on for a new life in a new world.
California was full of Moorish presence but people didn’t notice.”

The Armies of Mohammed Reach California (Video)

“Back to the photo and post in question. Bhutanese people have traditionally worn shoes known as “Tso-Lham.” These boots share many of the same characteristics of American Cowboy boots.”  Where did Cowboy Boots Come From?



The Noble Sight hound  

This very ancient breed is the fastest dog in the world and can reach speeds of over 40 miles per hour (65 km/h). Carvings of the Greyhound were found in tombs in Egypt dating back to 2900 B.C. They are thought to have originally descended from the Arabian Sloughi and brought to England by traders before 900 AD. The breed was first brought to America by the Spanish explorers in the 1500s. They were one of the first dogs ever to be shown in a dog show. The Greyhound’s natural quarry are the rabbit and hare, however it has also been used to hunt stag, deer, fox and wild boar. The dog’s speed along with its keen eyesight helped it excel at its work. The dogs were able to chase and catch the pray without stopping to rest. Today there are many types of Greyhounds being bred: Show lines, which conform to the written standard and racing lines, bred for speed. After retiring from a racing career, these dogs were often destroyed.The Spanish greyhound, or galgo, is one of the most persecuted dog breeds. Galgos are used to hunt hares in the Spanish countryside. At the end of the hunting season, countless are disposed of or abandoned.


Sadly today, the galgo’s native land still views it as a second-class animal and few Spaniards will own them as pets. They are bred carelessly and used for hunting by galgueros (galgo handlers). At the end of the hunting season in Spain, the galgos deemed worthless or too costly to maintain are destroyed in a variety of inhumane ways — including being hanged, dumped into abandoned wells, shot, and even burned to death.

Fact is that we cannot prove that the galgo is indigenous species to Spain. What we do know is that the breed has been known in spain for thousands of years. They were not only known, they were famous. In this sparsely populated land hunting was flourishing.The Moors, who conquered Spain in the eighth century, bred African sighthounds with Spanish galgos for hunting purposes , the Moors were great hunters with an inkling towards their traditional falcon hunt. Both the sight hound and the falcon together were unstoppable.

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Splendid structures like the Alhambra in Grenada and the Alcazar in Seville in Spain bare witness to their artistic craftmanship.In the 10th century Cordoba, for example, was not just the capital of Al Andalus (Moorish spain) but also one of the most important cities in the world, rivalling Baghdad and Constantinoble. It boasted a population of 500,000 and had street lighting, fifty hospitals (with running water), three hundred public baths, five hundred mosques and seventy libraries – one of which held some 500,000 books. Culivation of orchards,to the propagation of edible and aromatic plants; but it also, with infinite minuteness of detail, the breeding and care of every species of domestic animals, their qualities, their relative excellence, their defects, their habits, and their diseases.  It is therefore that they would undoubtedly have had an open eye for the indismissable beauty and grace of the Galgo. There is also evidence that the Saluki and the Sloughi were bred to hunt and kept to high standard by the Moors.


The Sloughi is a breed of sight hound native to the Maghreb, a region of North Africa consisting of the modern nations of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco.  Used for hunting gazelles, hares, and other fleet-footed game in its homeland, the Sloughi is among the fastest and most heat-tolerant of all breeds.  Although considerably better known in Europe and North Africa, the Sloughi is slowing gaining a following in the United States, where it primarily serves as a companion animal and show dog.  The Sloughi is one of the most ancient of all dogs and has been kept by many different peoples, of the region, but is primarily associated with the Berbers.


Political upheavals disrupted highly sophisticated breeding by leading families. Because of a law introduced during French occupation which prohibited hunting with sighthounds and resulted in the shooting of these dogs on sight, and epidemic rabies, the Sloughi population was decimated. In spite of efforts in Europe and North Africa, the Sloughi is still not very common and its breeders have an important responsibility in the conservation of this ancient breed. The Sloughi is also known as the Arabian Greyhound, Moroccan Greyhound, Berber Greyhound, Maghrebi Greyhound, Arabian Sighthound, Maghrebi Sight Hound, the Slougui, Sloughi Moghrebi, Al Hor, and the Levrier Marocai.


History of the Saluki, the origins of the breed.

Just about every breed of dog has a documented man-made origin. The Saluki does not. Almost every breed of dog can be traced to an irrefutable source. The Saluki can not. The Saluki’s origins, geographic location, time, predecessors — are all shrouded in mystery and myth. What is accepted as fact is that the Saluki has been associated with the Middle East since antiquity, and that in pre- and recorded history it has been used for hunting. A rich visual record of the breed goes back at least 9,000 years.They have remained the same today as they were in ancient times. Also known as the Gazelle Hound or Persian Greyhound, was once considered the “Royal dog of Egypt.” They have been regarded as the oldest known breed of domestic dog. To the Arabs, they are known as “El Hor-The Nobel One” and are held in very high regard. Never being sold they were rarely given as gifts and only to those who were deemed truly worthy.The breed was held in great esteemby the Arabs and was bred as carefully as the famous Arabian horses, with speed and endurance in mind. The distribution of the saluki can only be credited to the nomadic desert Arabs, known as Bedouin, which traveled the desert as a means of livelihood. Still today this tradition remains.


At archaeological sites in many areas of the Middle East, ancient images of Salukis have been found on seals, in tomb paintings, mosaics, sculptures, and on household objects. In Egypt, the ancestors of modern greyhounds were used in hunting and kept as companions. Many Egyptians considered the birth of a such a hound second in importance only to the birth of a son. When the pet hound died, the entire family would go into mourning. The favorite hounds of the upper class were mummified and buried with their owners.

Mummified dog in Cairo's Egyptian Museum

Mummified dog in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum 10407430_889543444411760_5315182253498261143_n

The walls of Egyptian tombs often were decorated with images of their hounds. An Egyptian tomb painting from 2200 BC portrays dogs that look very much like the modern greyhound.

Tutankhamun, a hunting scene includes a dog that resembles a modern saluki.

Tutankhamun, a hunting scene includes a dog that resembles a modern saluki.


Among pharaohs known to own greyhound-type dogs are Tutankhamen, Amenhotep II, Thutmose III, Queen Hatshepsut, and Cleopatra VII (of Antony and Cleopatra fame).

The Egyptian god Anubis, either a jackal or a hound-type dog, is frequently displayed on murals in the tombs of the Pharaohs (right). Some depictions of it look much like the modern Pharaoh Hound, a close relation of the greyhound.


Salukis are considered holy and often revered as “a sacred gift of Allah”. The Bedouin’s believe that the “Saluki is the hound of Allah; and must therefore be perfect.” Because the saluki was considered holy they were allowed to live among them. No other dog or creature was even allowed this privilege.


The Quran Translating and quoting references to Salukis . There is a saying that many Bedouins will not touch a dog, but they will touch a Saluki. Special dispensation was given to the Saluki breed of dogs, permitting them to live in the homes of a true believer. ‘Muslims pray five times a day, and people praying must have a clean body, wear clean clothes and pray in a clean place, according to the Noble Quran’. Because of the oppressive smell of the dog in a confined space, and with the scarce availability of water in the hot climate of the desert, it was considered unclean to keep a dog as a pet. However, a devout Muslim could keep a dog as long as it was used for hunting and guarding.


Hamad quotes from the Noble Quran and from the Hadith :- It is made clear in the Noble Quran that hounds are permitted for use in hunting

( Surah Al-maidah 5. Part 6 Aayah 4 ) :- “They ask you (O Mohammed) what is lawful for them (as food ).Say:. lawful unto you are At-Tayyibat {all kinds of halal (lawful-good) foods which Allah has made lawful (meat of slaughtered eatable animals ,milk products ,fats, vegetables and fruits ) }. And those beasts and birds of prey which you have trained as hounds, training and teaching them (to catch) in the manner as directed to you by Allah; so eat of what they catch for you, but pronounce the name of Allah over it, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is swift in reckoning’’.


Salukis are known as sighthounds or gazehounds meaning they hunt by sight and speed. The Moors and the Arabs/Bedouin’s bred the Saluki to hunt down small animals such as the hare or fox, as well as large game like the desert gazelle.

The Arabs bred the Saluki in the likeness of the mighty Arabian horse. Grace, speed, endurance and beauty were never compromised and to this day are still the most prominent characteristics of both species.


In the beginning of the hunt, the hound was carried on horse or camelback to maintain is strength for the impending chase.

Sometimes a hawk and a saluki were used together to hunt.


The Hawk

The hawks were trained to sight the target and strike the prey to slow it down or to circle around it at close range. Once a target was determined, the hunter would release the Salukis. Their primary objective was to race toward the hawks, identify and capture its prey. The best-trained Saluki’s though could find and take the prey down without the assistance of the hawk. The chase could be short and fast or could last for miles. Thus the Bedouin bred the Saluki to possess great stamina and speed.

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It is believed falconry entered Spain in the 5th century AD, coming from North Africa with the Moorish Kings. During its, “Golden Age‟, falconry was a means of cultural communication and its geographical reach was extraordinary.In the 13th century, Arab falconry techniques were imported into Europe through Spain and the court of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, in Sicily. Frederick II obtained a copy of Moamyn the Arab falconer’s manual on falconry and had it translated into Latin around 1240. As a result Frederick II has been called the father of falconry even though he merely used the work of Arabs.


The first complete book on falconry was the Baznameh-e-Naseri, in the 12th century commissioned by Naseraddin Shah. It was Moors, most likely the Muslim military elite, who introduced (or reintroduced) falconry to Europe. The Muslim world from Morocco to Afghanistan has practiced falconry from the 800’s to now. Arab Muslims gave many tips to the Christian European crusaders, including the use of the hood on the hawk.

Hoods are an Arab contribution to falconry brought to Europe by the Crusaders. Each regional group, and each individual hood maker, puts his own stamp on the hoods with original innovations and changes. Hoods are called “burqa” in Arabic falconry. The purpose of a hood is to calm the bird. These birds are so visually oriented that they are not fearful of what they cannot see. If they cannot see it, then it must not be there.


The Omayyad caliphs and princes practiced falconry as did the Abbasids, including the caliph Haroun Al Rasheed. Arabia became world famous for its falconers its falconry traditions spread through the Islamic World, east into the Central Asia and west across North Africa to the Magreb and to Spain, giving us the distinctive styles of falconry of the Bedouin, of the Kingdom of Morocco and of Tunisia. The Koran includes a verse permitting falconry as a hunting method. More than anywhere else in the world falconry is considered a symbol of this region’s civilization and over 50% of the world’s falconers are reputed to be in the Middle East.


Due to the widespread popularity of falconry at the time, falcons madeideal diplomatic gifts, and 17th Century falcon traders brought falcons to various royal courtsfrom Flanders, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Norway, Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, the BalearicIslands, Spain, Turkey, Alexandria, the Barbary States, and India.

The falcon is an important part of Arab culture. The United Arab Emirates spends R240m annually for conservation of wild falcons, and has set up several state-of-the-art falcon hospitals. Every year, falcon beauty contests and demonstrations take place in Abu Dhabi. In Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan the golden eagle is used, hunting game as large as fox.


Sources GoodRich Andalusian

Spanish Barb Horse

Saudi Aramco

Horses. Tripod

Grey Hound Wikipedia.Org

Spanish Galgo – Galgos — Galgo Rescue International

The history of the Galgo

Sloughi Breed History

Anubis History Wikipedia

Sacred gift of Allah

International Association for Falconry and Conservation

How we Ride: the Legacy of the Desert