"On the shores of the Caspian Sea in Northern Iran there exists
a breed of small pony which I have never seen described in books, and which is
practically unknown outside its own territory"
-- Louise Firouz, 1965
In 1957, Louise Laylin, an American-born Cornell graduate, married fellow student
Narcy Firouz, an aristocrat linked to the former Shah of Iran. Louise returned with
him to his native country. Subsequently, she and her husband had three children and
established the Norouzabad Equestrian Center for children of families living in the
country's capital of Tehran. One of the difficulties she faced, that of providing
appropriate mounts for some of the smaller riders, proved a catalyst for her pursuit of
what were rumored to be very small horses in the remote villages above the Caspian sea.
Her work would soon result in the rediscovery and preservation of an ancient lost breed
- the Caspian Horse.
Louise and her husband lived close to the ancient Persian Capitol, Persepolis. On the walls of
this ancient palace, she had seen rock relief carvings of the Lydian Horse, which had a small prominent
skull formation found in many other artifacts resembling the small Caspian. Her knowledge of these artifacts
combined with her first sighting of a Caspian Horse in a remote region of Iran, resulted in the historical
rediscovery of the ancient, lost breed of the royals - the Caspian Horse!
From the beginning until now, Louise has fiercely faced many obstacles and hardships in
her uphill fight to preserve this ancient breed. However, the first signs of her incredible courage and dedication
surfaced on her initial expedition in search of this little horse in 1965. Although very uncustomary for a woman in
Iran to travel alone, especially on horseback, Louise went to treacherous and remote areas of Iran, at great physical
risks, to search for the lost royal horse of Persia. Many subsequent trips followed at equally great risk.
Louise, still living in Iran, has painstakingly built and nurtured
several Caspian foundation herds since 1965,
only to have them confiscated during the
revolutionary war. She has been imprisoned on several occasions and went on a hunger
strike to gain her release. She has survived her beloved Caspians being run across land
mines, used for food, attacked by wolves on their escape to foreign countries in hopes of
survival. Her continued optimism and commitment is ever present in her work.
She has worked side by side with leading researchers and has
presented papers to worldwide audiences of scientists and archaeologists. She
recently was the guest speaker for the first International Caspian Conference held in
Houston, Texas. Louise is still actively involved with the Caspians in Iran, helping
to manage the herd currently owned by the government, the Ministry of Jehad. Although
extremely difficult at best, she persists in attempting to export more bloodlines to
the rest of the world.
There are several manuscripts being developed telling the complete
story of Louise Firouz and her remarkable journey. Additionally, a documentary is being
produced, with filming in Iran, U.S., Britain, and Australia. There are also several
Hollywood directors and screenwriters who are interested in presenting her story as well.