Colonial Spanish Horse

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Colonial Spanish Horse
Banker horses, a well-known Colonial Spanish Horse breed
Equus ferus caballus

The Colonial Spanish horse is a foundation type of horse descended from the original Iberian horse stock brought from Spain to the Americas. The ancient form of the breed was once called the jennet or Spanish barb. The term encompasses many strains or breeds now found primarily in North America. Its extinction status is considered critical[1] and the horses are registered by several authorities.

The most direct descendant today is possibly the Spanish Mustang. Though the original Mustang descended from the Colonial Spanish Horse, not all feral horses of the Americas today are of colonial Spanish descent, as there has been considerable crossbreeding in some areas.

Modern breeds and types[edit]

The wide array of horses considered to be near-pure descendants of original Spanish stock carry a variety of names. They include the following modern breeds or breed substrains:

DNA analysis has been used by breeders and horse associations to trace the connections among the breeds. Hardy Oelke used MtDNA to show Sulphurs have a link to the Sorraia.

In early 2001, the American Sulphur Horse Association was invited to participate in a joint genetic research project studying Iberian breed horses. Dr. E. Gus Cothran of the University of Kentucky Equine Research Dept. (now at Texas A&M), and Professor Maria Mar D'Oom of the University of Lisbon, Portugal, proposed the study. They wanted to assess the relationship (if any) among the Iberian (Spanish and Portuguese) breeds. As a recognized Iberian breed (Old World blood) now found in the New World, the Sulphurs were included in the study. As a result of the testing, Sulphurs were found to carry the Iberian/Barb 1 Sul mtDNA pattern. This meant that the direct maternal line was descended from the Iberian/Barb. The female siblings and daughters of these horses have the same mtDNA.[2]


  1. ^ "Breed Information", American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, referenced August 12, 2008.
  2. ^ "Genetic Research", American Spanish Sulphur Website