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New Zealand: Rare
Overseas: Rare
Importation: 1970s

Caspian Horses

A Rare Breed of Eastern Origin

Caspian stallion
Caspian stallion Willesley Sir Tristan (TeAra Bergstrom photo)

The Caspian is a small horse originally found in Iran. Although generally no more than 12 hands (1.22 metres) high, it is nevertheless considered to be a horse rather than a pony.

The breed is of similar build to the Arabian, and is extremely hardy, with very dense bone and hard feet that rarely need shoeing. It can take long strides and is able to keep up with a normal-sized horse while walking, trotting, or cantering, despite its smaller stature. The most common colours are bay and black, though they may also be grey, dun or chestnut.

Although the Caspian horse may have had a long history in its own country it did not really become known to the rest of the world until it was "discovered" by an American-born Iranian horse breeder, Louise Firouz, in the 1960s. Within a few years some had been exported to the United States, and in 1976 a Caspian stud was formed in England. Since then the breed has also been established in Australia and New Zealand.

They were first imported into this country by Helen Rattray in the late 1970s and early 80s. Helen bred quite a few crossbreds but also 29 purebreds, a lot of these were sold to America where some did very well in the show ring and it was really these horses that were instrumental in establishing the breed over there.

Thanks to TeAra Bergstrom for assistance with text and photographs.
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