The Caspian is an ancient breed previously believed to have been extinct for over 1,000 years. He is probably the most direct ancestor of the Oriental breeds and therefore all light horse breeds.
The Caspian is extremely rare and was barely pulled back from the edge of extinction in 1965. Louise Firouz, an American living in Iran, is credited with recognition of this ancient breed. It is now being studied by leading archaeozoologists to prove the link between the modern Caspian and the tiny prehistoric horse of Persia.
Not a pony
The Caspian is a miniature horse, not a pony. Colours are bay, grey or chestnut and rarely black. They have a short, fine head, large eyes and a small muzzle, with large, low nostrils. The forehead is pronounced with tiny ears and a slim, graceful neck. The back is straight with the tail set high on a level croup. The legs have no feathering and the hooves are shaped more like a donkey’s. The Caspian gains most of his height by the age of six months; after that he broadens.
Sexual maturity is reached at 18 months, however, unlike other horses, mares have a strong tendency not to ovulate until about a year after foaling, making a continuous breeding programme difficult. The Caspian is now safe from extinction, although they remain rare. There are several studs in Britain and a few have been exported to Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
The Caspian is very versatile and is becoming known in the show ring for his exceptional jumping ability as well as being a popular choice for driving.
Photography kindly supplied by Farokh Khorooshi for Colin Barker. Visit
www.caspianhorsesociety.org.uk/calendar-shoot-diaries.html to view and order the Caspian Horse Society’s fundraising calendar to assist this rare breed.