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caspian pony

Firouz was searching for small ponies to be ridden by children, when she happened upon a bay stallion in the town of Amol. The horse was pulling a heavy cart, and was nicely conformed with the body of a "well-bred oriental horse." She purchased the stallion, naming him Ostad, and he became a successful sire of children's ponies and a foundation for her breeding program. Finding that the animals were few in number and in poor condition, she began a breeding program at her riding school in Norouzabad, starting with seven mares and six stallions. The Caspian is actually a miniature horse, and not a pony, despite reaching a maximum of 12 hh. It is thought to be one of the oldest horse or pony breeds in the world today, dating back from the now extict miniature horses of Mesopotamia, who lived in the region from 3,000 BCE until the 7th century. The ponies now inhabit an area between the Caspian Sea and the Elburz Mountains. Efforts have made to help re-establish the breed. A breeding program was set up by the Shah of Iran, who established the Royal Horse Society at Louise and Narcy Firouz's Norouzabad Stud. In the Fall of 1965 on a visit to her family in Great Falls, Va. Louise Firouz approached Kathleen McCormick with the Caspian story and photos of the ponies she had brought to Norouzabad. A plan was made to export a Caspian Stallion from Iran to the United States. Kathleen selected the stallion *Jehan from the group of photos. In April of 1966 William M.Santoro, DVM flew to Tehran, travel to the province of Mazanderan on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea where Louise rediscovered the Caspian ponies. Santoro accompanied *Jehan on the 4 day 8000 mile journey to New York. Because there was difficulty getting *Jehan out of Iran only a partbred breeding program was established in the U.S. and plans to import mares were put on hold. During the Iranian Revolution, the ponies were again used as pack horses and for food, further depleting their numbers. Prince Phillip suggested that some of the ponies be shipped to England, to start a population, and in 1976, the Caspian Stud in England was formed, saving much of the foundation stock. Following the revolution, the ban on horse ownership was lifted and Firouz managed to find 15 horses that could be used for breeding (after performing DNA testing to assure they were the Caspian breed). These horses began the Persicus stud, and in 1993, seven of the horses were exported for breeding in England, with the help of the Russian Horse Society. The combined efforts of breeders across the world have established the breed in several European countries, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. However, breeding efforts are further hindered by the fact that Caspian mares tend not to ovulate until a year after foaling.

The Caspian Pony was rediscovered in 1965 in a mountainous region of Northern Iran, not far from the Caspian Sea, by American-born Louise Firouz.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Caspian Pony".