Ancient writings, artifacts and recent DNA studies indicate that the Caspian is a living remnant of the subspecies of horse ancestral to the hot blooded breeds. This suggests the Caspian Horse one of the most ancient domestic breeds of horse in existence today.
Thought extinct for some 1300 years, Lousie Firouz, an American woman living in Iran, found them again in 1965 on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Later the Shah of Iran presented England's Prince Philip with a breeding pair of Caspians. Several British exportations followed just prior to the revolutionary wars in Iran and the ban of exportations. These precious few became the mainstay for the foundation and salvation of Caspian Horse outside its native Iran.
General and Unique Breed Characteristics:
Caspians are very small, elegant, hot-blooded horses, averaging 11 to 12.2 hands. They come in most solid colors, including duns, occasional roans, and sabinos, with a wide variety of primitive markings and patterns such as dorsal stripes, zebra or leg bars, shoulder patches, and bleach spots. With fine skin and silky coats that can appear iridescent in summer and as wooly as mammoths in winter, Caspian type varies from exotic Desert, to longer taller Hunter, to the unique Steppe type, but always with horse-like proportions, deep girths, finely chiseled heads and almond shaped eyes.
Caspian movement is free flowing and often light like the dancing of fairies. Their mountain heritage gives excellent shoulders, well angulated hocks (mild cowhock is considered utilitarian for hills) and great maneuverability. Caspians are highly intelligent and alert, but even stallions are kind, willing, and easily trained.
A well trained Caspian is an ideal first pony for children, yet they are strong enough to carry comfortably carry older children and even small adults up to 120 pounds. Their jumping abilities are phenomenal, easily jumping pony courses, and many are quite capable of jumping as high as full size horses. As a driving horse, Caspians are quick, graceful, and agile with plenty of strength. They have especially done well in scurry. These same traits make them an excellent choice for Gymkhana.
Current Status - Critical:
As of 2006, there were less than 1,500 documented Caspians in the world. Census data estimated 500 Caspians residing in North America. Although Iran now operates a government stud and the Caspian is considered a national treasure, the survival of the Caspian in its native homeland is difficult, and with American embargos in place, the expectation of importing any fresh bloodlines to America in the near future is nil.
Caspians are listed by the Equus Survival Trust as Critical.