Welcome to Astara Stud.

Astara Stud was established in the Adelaide Hills, at Mount Pleasant close to the Barossa Valley, in 1992 by Shauna and Gerard Swart. We also have Caspians for sale; please contact us if you have any inquiries.

Caspians – The Horse of Kings

These fairy tale ponies are thought to be the oldest living breed in the world, dating back to 3000BC., and direct descendants of the pre-historic horse that roamed the Kermanshah area, about which time the present day Caspian seems to have evolved.
There is a striking similarity between the Caspians and horses pulling the Chariot of King Darius on a bas-relief at the Palace at Persepolis. The rediscovery of this unique species of horse has so fired the imagination and curiosity of Iran, and all other nations that take an active interest in both archaeology and research, that from a mere handful roaming the hinterland, near the Caspian Sea, there have been established Studs in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Norway and Sweden, as well as their native home of Iran.

With the establishment of these Studs, their future now looks assured, and they are a breed which still enjoys Royal Patronage in the UK. His Royal Highness Prince Phillip was given a pair of Caspians which, during their long quarantine, had produced a filly foal.
Credit for all the research and rediscovery of this ancient breed goes to Louise Firouz, a Washington Graduate of Cornell University where she studied Animal Husbandry among other things. Louise married Narcy Firouz, a member of the overthrown Iranian Royal Family, and is now occupied in farming and raising horses.

In 1965 Louise Firouz went on a search for ponies for her children to ride. She discovered the bay stallion Ostad* pulling a heavily laden cart in Amol – and purchased him. He was the first Caspian to be rediscovered. Two more Caspians, the grey stallion Aseman* and the mare Alamara* joined Ostad* and returned to Louise’s farm. They were excellent mounts for her children.

The search for more Caspians started, and they were often found in dismal condition, lice, fleas, ticks, ill, covered in sores and working to very heavy carts. Their recovery was slow but steady. Eventually, the breeding program commenced and a few more Caspians were located on later expeditions to the Alborz Mountains and on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

Louise researched the origins of the Caspian Horse, recalling that she had seen bas-reliefs at the ancient Palace of King Darius the Great at Persepolis. There was no doubt the Caspian was prized, for the tri-lingual seal of King Darius, Persian Ruler from 522BC to 586BC depicts small horses of similar type pulling the King’s chariot on a lion hunt. Louise found a number of artifacts resembling the Caspian Horse, now declared to be the National Living Treasure of Iran.


Dr. Gus Cothran of the Equine Research Department of Kentucky University USA,is conducting ongoing scientific research into the Caspian Horse. They are quite different to other horses, in the following ways:-

A bulging of the parietal bones known as a vaulted forehead, when born.
An extra molar in the place where the wolf teeth might appear in other breeds.
Shoulder blades are narrow at the tope and wide at the base.
Cannon bones are longer and slimmer.
The first six vertebrae are longer than usual, which gives the appearance of high withers and a flat back.
Caspian hooves are narrow and oval in shape, hard, and rarely need shoes, except in instances of continual hard work.
The frog is less prominent in Caspian's than in other horse breeds.
Differences found in the haemoglobin of the Caspian Horse are “quite unique”
Within the breed, there is a natural graduation from a larger, stronger type of Caspian to a smaller, more dainty type. This variety in type is considered to be a sign of strength, not a weakness. The Caspian is a horse not a pony. It is a horse in miniature, growing to between 9 hands and 12.2 hands high.

These Horses are highly intelligent, gentle, friendly, quite easy to train, narrow for children to ride comfortably, and willing workers. Also, very versatile in harness.


The Caspian Horse is an expert jumper with extraordinary ability to jump 4 feet from a standing start. This is rarely seen in the horse world.

Their temperament is gentle and even although they are technically a ‘hot blood’ they are generally very well behaved. They are very good saddle horses for children and when they have outgrown the horses, the Caspian makes an excellent harness horse for older children and mum and dad to enjoy.

They are marvellous Pony club mounts and in Iran, they are used for riding, working in carts hauling very heavy loads, working in the rice paddies and in pony races, where they excel because of their speed and agility. Caspian's can keep up with large horses at all paces, except for the gallop.

This makes them very good at pony trots also.