Barb horses are fast, light, desert animals which come from Algeria and Morocco, but lack the Arabian's distinctive characteristics. There are few true bred Barbs today, but the ancestors of many European and New World breeds had barb blood since they were imported in large numbers in the Middle Ages, as were Arabs and Turks.
The Iranians claim their straight profiled, tall Persian Arabs are an older breed by some 2,000 years than the middot; desert Arabians of the Near East, though there is a theory that an ancestor of those notable desert horses known as Akhal-Teke in Russia and Turkoman in Iran, was the part foundation stock of both species of Arabian horse.
The Turkoman, bred south-east of the Caspian Sea, is one of the best known Iranian breeds, although now that the Turkoman tribes have forsaken a life of nomad horse-breeders to become prosperous farmers, the great herds of fine horses that formerly roamed the steppe are no more.
Turkoman horses are in much demand for racing. They are fast, built on greyhound lines like all true desert breeds, and have great stamina. In 1935 the first three horses home, in a race of 4,300 kilometres from the Iranian frontier to Moscow, were Turkomans; they took 84 days, and finished the last 500 metres at full gallop.
In Iran, a Royal Horse Society was formed to preserve the heritage of a country which has been raising fine horses for over 3,000 years, and one type that is registered is the variation of Persian Plateau horse, the Darashuri, that is well known as an excellent saddle horse.
From time to time foreign horse breeds are imported to the Imperial Stud at Farahabad, outside Tehran, and several of the fiery Persian Arabs stabled there have Thoroughbred blood in their vems.