"It now seems certain that the small Caspian horses'
characteristics were highly valued at the time of King Darius and
recorded on many monuments of that time."
-- HRH Prince Philip
What did King Darius, King Ardashir,
H.I.H. Shah Reza Pahlavi, Queen Elizabeth II and H.R.H. Prince
Philip all have in common, besides being royalty? They all owned
the same breed of horse, hence the Royal Caspian!
In ancient history, the Caspian Horse graced the seal of
King Darius the Great, was offered to Persian kings as treasured gifts, decorated
the walls of ancient palaces, and were used in royal ceremonies.
The little horse was highly prized.
As observed on the trilingual seal of King Darius
the Great, 600 BC, a small horse is depicted pulling the King's chariot
as he shoots arrows at a fierce lion. It was important for King Darius
to have a horse that was agile and quick and reflected well upon his own
athletic prowess and courage.
King Shapur is depicted on a bas relief as being
carried in triumph by the Caspian, with the King's feet nearly touching the ground.
Another relief shows the investiture of King Ardashir
with the small Caspian horses.
In the Oxus Treasure, small horses are portrayed in gold pulling a royal golden chariot.
In more recent history, the Shah
of Iran hosted a celebration in 1971 at the ancient
palace of Persepolis. During this celebration, Prince Philip
and Princess Anne visited the Royal Stables, which also housed
Caspian Horses. They watched 5 year old children race the Caspian
stallions, which was quite impressive to the British Royal guests
During this visit, Prince Philip expressed his concern about
the rare breed, so small in numbers, being vulnerable because they were only located
in one country and region. Little did he know how prophetic his concerns were, because
several years later the Revolutionary War broke out in Iran, making future exports of
the Caspian Horse almost impossible.
The Shah of Iran presented Prince Philip with a pair of Caspians,
which were exported to Great Britain. Prince Philip was instrumental in helping export
several small shipments to Great Britain before the Iranian Revolution. It is from
those crucial shipments that most Caspian Horses were bred outside of Iran in the
last 20 years.
The Caspians participate in various Royal Events and
Queen Elizabeth has presented ribbons at several Caspian Breed Shows.