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Horse Breeds
First Posted June 24,2009
Sep 17, 2010


3-D Flags
Country of Origin: Iran (Persia)


At first glance one may think they are viewing an Arabian in miniature as they carry many of the same characteristics. Despite their smaller size Caspians are a horse not a pony even though it stands at only 10-13 hands. A photo of a Caspian without a person standing beside the horse for perspective, gives the illusion of a much larger Thoroughbred or Arabian.

Physical Description

Due to their mountainous origin their hocks are more angled and their mane tends to grow longer than the desert-bred Arabians, and their growth rate is enormous during their first 18 months. Their feet have very strong walls and sole and very little frog, a foot that rarely requires shoeing. Caspians come in all solid colors and possess a natural action with suspension at all gaits.

  • The Caspian skull shows a pronounced elevation of the interparietal bones and the Caspian possesses no parietal crest.
  • The scapula is wider than in other breeds.
  • The metacarpal and metatarsal bones are much longer and slimmer in comparison with the height of the horse.
  • The spinous processes of the first six thoracic vertebrae show a pronounced elongation.
  • The hoof is narrow and oval-shaped, rarely needing to be shod.
  • The metacarpal and metatarsal bones are much longer and slimmer in relation to size
  • Possesses an extra molar


In ancient history, the Caspian Horse graced the seal of King Darius the Great, was offered to Persian kings as treasured gifts, decorated the walls of ancient palaces, and were used in royal ceremonies. Were it not for the valiant efforts of a woman named Louise Fiorouz the current status of the Caspian might read Extinct instead of Critical. It was she who in the 1960s rediscovered this ancient breed in the mountains of Iran where she began a breeding crusade over the next two decades to preserve the Caspian. Her efforts eventually paid off and a nucleus core of stock was secured and exported to the safety of Europe.

The Caspian has maintained its small, elegant stature of approximately 10-12 hands for almost 5,000 years. Research has demonstrated that the Caspian has kept its small stature under all types of demographic and environmental conditions, further evidence of its purity, distinction and unique lineage over so many centuries.

Interesting Facts

In 1992 there were only 38 purebred Caspians listed in the registry book. Efforts were made to capture and identify feral Caspians to supplement the gene pool. Even with recent importations Caspians numbers in the US are relatively low, 100 at best, 300 globally.

From research, it has been determined that the horses depicted on the walls of the ancient palace of Persepolis, did actually exist and were not mere "renderings" of an imaginary small horse.


5000 year old Royal horse of Persia (Iran)

For More Information:

Caspian Horse
Caspian Horse Society of American
Listed as "Critical" by The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (2004)
The Washington Post -Louise Firouz, 74; "Horsewoman Known for Caspian Breed in Iran"

Permission given by my dear friend, Cowboy Frank to use his breeds section.
Oklahoma State University list of livestock breeds

Horse Breeds