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"My original fear that the race was indeed a rare one was in fact well-founded. "
-- Louise Firouz

Ostad*, First Caspian Discovered
Ostad*, First Caspian Discovered
In 1965 Louise Firouz went on an expedition on horseback and discovered small horses in the mountainous regions south of the Caspian Sea.. At first glance they appeared somewhat rough from lack of nourishment, and were covered with ticks and parasites. However, upon close inspection, these horses showed distinctive characteristics similar to the ancient artifacts she was familiar with. They had the same large protruding eyes, a prominent jaw, large nostrils, a dished head and a high tail set.

During this first trip Louise rescued 3 horses, which were dubbed Caspians. The former owners of these misused, over-worked horses had no idea of the ancient breeds' near extinction!

Ostad* Ridden by Louise's Daughter
Ostad* Ridden by Louise's Daughter
Between 1965 and 1968, Mrs. Firouz conducted a careful survey to determine the approximate number and range of the surviving Caspian horses. She estimated that there were only 50 Caspians along the entire southern coast of the Caspian Sea.

Seven mares and six stallions were purchased by Louise to form the foundation stock for a Caspian breeding center in Iran. After Mrs. Firouz' breeding successes, the Iran-Iraq War placed a heavy burden on her endeavors. The Royal Horse Society (RHS) of Iran took over Louise's herd in 1974.

Louise started a second private herd in 1975, consisting of 20 mares and 3 stallions. In 1977, this second Caspian breeding center was forced to close its doors and the RHS declared a ban on all Caspian exports. The RHS collected all remaining Caspians. Sadly, due to the political climate, most of the RHS horses were lost.

Ostad* Driven by Louise's Children
Ostad* Driven by Louise's Children
Mrs. Firouz once again completely redeveloped a breeding center to save the Caspian from extinction in Iran. This herd is now owned by the Ministry of Jehad and Louise is called upon to assist in management. She has also, in recent years, assisted John Schneider-Merck, a German businessman, in establishing his small private herd of Caspians in Iran.

With Iran's many political upheavals - the overthrow of the Shah, the Islamic Revolution, bombing during the protracted Iran-Iraq War, threats of famine, together with the Caspian's close association with royalty, their survival has been precarious. The Caspian's discovery was ever in the balance between political honoraria as a national treasure and the threat of political seizure as wartime food.

Because of her efforts to save the Caspian horses from starvation and slaughter by exportation during the early years of the Islamic Revolution, in 1979 Mr. and Mrs. Firouz were repeatedly arrested and detained. During one of these incarcerations, Mrs. Firouz went on a hunger strike in protest. She was successful but left prison weak and emaciated.

The number of Caspians in Iran is still quite small. Additionally, there are only 900 Caspians world-wide. Exportation out of Iran is still extremely difficult. The last exports occurred in the early '90s, with a small shipment arriving in Great Britain, after a tortuous journey through a war-zone where bandits attacked and robbed the convoy.

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