Horse Isle 3: Big Book of Breeds
New Account! Forgot?    
Email: Pass:
Big Book of Breeds
Our Massive Real World Equine Reference!


[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Caspian   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Caspian is a rare Iranian breed of a small horse, that is also the most ancient oriental horse breed that exists today. It is named after the Caspian Sea, where it was re-discovered by Louise Firouz in 1965. The Caspian is famous for its characteristically short height and thin body.

Thousands of years ago, before Arabian horses existed, a small horse had roamed the Middle East. According to stone carvings and plaques from different eras, as well as to archeological findings dating to ~2,500 years ago, these tiny horses had extremely bulgy foreheads, slim bodies, thin legs, and an overall conformation that was strikingly similar to that of today's Caspian horses.

Originally, these small ancient horses were popular in the Middle East, especially in the Persian Empire. However, their popularity significantly decreased following the Arab conquest of Persia in the 7th century, and from the 8th century there were no more records of these horses. Therefore, it was believed that these small horses went extinct.

This changed in 1965, when Louise Firouz, an American-born Iranian horse breeder, set on a journey to find small oriental horses. Louise had an equestrian center near Tehran, and was in need of small horses for young riders. She heard that such horses exist in a small village near the Caspian Sea, and decided to check if this rumor was true. Upon arriving there, she was excited to find that not only did these horses exist, but they also had the same physical characteristics as Arabian horses, especially when it came to their heads, which had small ears, large nostrils, a small muzzle, and an extremely bulgy forehead. She postulated that these small horses are probably direct descendants of the small ancient horses portrayed in the ancient Persian plaques.

Louise realized the uniqueness of the horses that she found, and decided to breed them in order to preserve this unique horse that was on the brink of extinction. To this end, between 1965 and 1970, she bought several mares and stallions, and brought them all to her farm, where she bred them and gradually increased the size of her Caspian herd. In addition, between 1971 and 1976, she exported several Caspian mares and stallions to Europe and to the USA. The last exportation was to England in 1976, about a year before the Iranian government banned any further exportation of Caspian horses.

The Iranian Revolution, followed by the Iran-Iraq War, brought devastation to the Caspian breed in Iran. Most of Louise's Caspian horses were lost, and those who were still alive were stolen from the stud. Fortunately, after the war ended, Louise managed to locate and buy some of the stolen horses, and to re-establish her herd. She also found additional feral Caspian horses near the Caspian Sea, and added those to the herd as well, thus re-establishing the breeding program for Caspian horses in Iran. Furthermore, she also managed to export additional Caspian horses to Europe (especially to the UK) and to the USA, where she promoted their breeding.

In addition to preserving the Caspian breed, Louise also took part in studies aimed at researching the origins of this unique breed. Anatomical and genetic studies confirmed that the small Persian horses depicted in ancient artifacts were indeed Caspian horses. Furthermore, not only were these horses the ancestors of the Arabian breed, as well as of other oriental breeds, but they were also older than the Turkmen breed. This means that the Caspian is the oldest oriental hot-blood breed that exists today.

Louise passed away in 2008, but thanks to her actions the Caspian breed is no longer on the verge of extinction. That said, it is still an endangered breed, with around 1,500 horses existing worldwide as of 2017. Today, there are breeding plans for Caspian horses in the USA and Europe to preserve this ancient breed.

While Caspian horses are hot-blooded horses, they are not hot-tempered, and therefore usually serve as mounts for children in the fields of recreational riding, show-jumping, and even racing. In addition, many Caspians also serve as driving horses for pulling small carts.

Ever since they were rediscovered in 1965, Caspian horses were famous for their small size and short height, with some horses being as short as 9.2hh. Because of this, the Caspian became known as the "Caspian Miniature Horse." That said, according to today's standard for miniature horses, the Caspian is not considered to be a miniature horse because most Caspian horses are taller than 9.2hh, which is the maximal height allowed for miniature horses.

Caspian horses have other characteristic conformational traits beyond their short height. Their necks are thin, their withers are prominent and are often higher than their flattish croups, and their legs are long and thin. In addition, their bodies are significantly narrower than the bodies of most other horse breeds. Their manes and tails are silky and often grow long.

Caspian horses come in the colors of bay, brown, black, chestnut, grey, dun, and cream-diluted. Their coat can sometimes have a metallic hue, though it is less pronounced than in other breeds (e.g. Akhal-Teke), and usually occurs only in the summer. Caspian horses stand between 9.2hh and 12.2hh.


[ INDEX ] [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
BBB Privacy Policy Terms and Conditions Rules Credits Road Map Fan Art
Copyright © 2017-2022 Horse Isle