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Caspian Horse - Horse Breed & Info

Characteristics of the Caspian Barb Horse Article and Photos Copyrighted - see credits below

The Caspian horse is considered by many experts to be the primitive ancestor of the Arabian horse, and to closely resemble a post-glacial wild horse.


Primeval horses crossed the Bering Strait and into Asia, migrating in several waves, over a long period of time, finding changes in climate and types of available feed. One small, refined horse, adapted to a warm climate, took a southern route through subtropical Asia, Asia Minor, and eventually into Northeast Africa, and Iran. The Caspian seems to exemplify that horse. Later, breeds like the Arabian were developed from this subspecies.

This primeval horse, which the Caspian still resembles largely, seems to have roamed at one time as far west as North Africa, when there was more rainfall and more vegetation there.

As the name implies, the Caspian horse is named for its area of discovery, at the Caspian Sea, in what today is Iran. An American lady found these horses there many decades ago and became devoted to their preservation.

Horses of the kind represented by the Caspian were portrayed in prehistoric cave paintings in North Africa, and in sculptures, reliefs, and paintings in antiquity in Asia Minor.

The Caspian is evidently not a pure wild horse anymore, for instance, it doesn’t express a uniform wild color like Przewalski’s horse, like the Exmoor, or the Sorraia, but it may be little altered from its wild state, color being one of the first characteristics to change with domestication. Also, no prevailing genotype was found for the Caspian.


Conformation-wise, the Caspian is a small horse, not a pony, even though it may stand only 11 or 12 hands. It shows basically all the features associated with the Arabian horse, only on a smaller scale.

This kind of horse occupies a unique place among all other horses due to certain characteristics: Its cranium is proportionally larger than in all other horses, the eyes proportionally larger. The teeth are smaller, weaker, and evidently not adapted to rough feeds high in fiber content.

The Caspian’s withers are prominent, even high. The back is short, the croup almost horizontal, the tail set high. It is a leggy, fine-boned animal, with light joints, round cannon bones, and small hooves. Name and tail are silky and flowing, the coat fine and silky.

The Caspian horse is adapted to a warm, even subtropical climate, and is the most refined animal in the kingdom of horses -- a whitetail deer amongst elk and moose, so to speak.


Caspian horses make excellent mounts for children, as they have the movements and saddle conformation of taller horses, not the barrel bodies and choppy strides associated with most ponies. They are also sweeter dispositioned, not headstrong as many ponies can be.

Caspians are being bred not only in Iran, but in America and Great Britain as well. Here an unfortunate tendency can be observed, as breeders select for characteristics not typical for the original Caspian horse, trying to turn it into yet another pony breed. The Caspian is not meant to be of rounded forms, is not meant to be muscular - it’s a highly refined, slender little horse, fleet of foot and elegant.

Small Arabian Bay Caspian mare
This chestnut could well be a Caspian, but it is actually a pure-bred Arabian in Iran. He is standing next to a regular Arabian of rather below average height, to show how very much smaller he is. This smaller Arabian represents what is referred to as an atavism, a throw-back to a primitive ancestor. The second photo is of a Caspian mare in Iran. Photo at the top of the page and the row above © Waiditschka, visit www.in-the-focus.com

Caspian Head Small gray horse A friendly pet on the muzzle Caspian Mare and Foal

Photos on the row above © Archive Oelke. For information regarding the Sorraia horse, the Vale de Zebro Wild Horse Refuge, and the Sorraia Mustang - visit www.sorraia.org

Article © HorseShowCentral.com Submitted by Hardy Oelke. Reproduction of any portion of this copyrighted website without written permission of the publisher is prohibited and subject to legal action.

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