Persia was an ancient empire that dominated large portions of what we now call the Middle East. During its zenith, it was known for breeding incredible horses that were beautiful, athletic, and spirited. Many of these breeds have been lost to time, but those that still exist are evidence of the skill and mastery of the Persians when it came to horsemanship.
Modern-day Iran is the home of most ancient Persian tribes, and some people still speak the language as their native tongue, though it is currently known as Farsi. There are many Persians in Afghanistan and Tajikistan who also breed and work with some of the Persian horses listed here.
The 7 Persian Horse Breeds
1. Asil Horse
Asil horses are known to be of the purest blood of the ancient Persian horses. Although there are very few left today, they are treasured by those who keep them. Originally, the Asil horse’s breeding was widespread because they were thought to bring spiritual and material wealth to their keepers. Thus, their bloodlines are protected and fostered within tribes and families. In some tribes, it was forbidden to cross the strain with any other horse breed or bloodline.
2. Bakhtiari Horse
The Bakhtiari horse is a variety of the Plateau Persian horse native to Iran. They share the same heritage and conformation as ancient Persian horses. The Bakhtiari horse gets their name from the Bakhtiari tribe that dominantly bred and raised them. They are mostly used for riding and racing because they are bold and spirited, built for long-lasting stamina and overall speed.
Although these are lovely animals, they don’t compare to the original Arabians. They are taller and lankier than their ancient counterparts but are still valued and bred by Iranians because they are so well-adapted to their native climate.
3. Caspian Horse
The Caspian horse is an endangered horse breed that has been put into many conservation spotlights due to their ancient bloodlines. These horses are the bridge between the hot-blooded desert horses of today and the early Equus species. They were thought to be extinct for about 1,300 years before being spotted by researchers in 1965 wandering the Caspian Sea’s shores.
These horses, though spirited, are kind and make ideal mounts for learning children. They can have colors of black, bay, grey, and chestnut. Today, they are bred in the Americas, U.K., Australia, and Zealand.
4. Darashouri Horse
The Darashouri horse is a native to the Fars province in Iran. Their origins are unknown but are thought to have come from Arabian blood. They are lightweight saddle horses with elegance and refinement in every step. They are primarily bred in the Darashouri tribe and by the Qashqai nomads.
These horses have fine, silky coats that come in grey, bay, chestnut, and black. They are intelligent, friendly, and bold. Although they are good for riding, they can also be trained for showjumping and dressage.
5. Tchenarani / Chenaran Horse
The Tchenarani horse dates back over 2,000 years and was originally developed by crossing Arabians with Turkoman horses. They are a rare breed, with only a few of the pure horses left in Iran. In the past, they were used as military horses but are now used for racing and pleasure riding.
6. Turkmen Horse
Pureblood horses bred in Turkmenistan are known as Turkmenian or Turkoman horses. They are thought to be extinct in their pure form, but horse breeders have worked hard to preserve the purest descendants of this beautiful, ancient breed.
The average height for the Turk horses is about 15 to 16 hands. They have a long, lean build and a metallic sheen to their coat. Their colors range from black and grey to chestnut and bay. The breed has a spirited personality that makes them excellent as riding and racing horses.
7. Kurd Horse
The Kurd horse is native to the mountainous regions of Iran. They are famed for their intelligence and strength, making them capable horses for polo and dressage. The bloodline of the Kurd horse is one of the purest genetic reserves. As of an official statistic in 2004, there are about 2,700 Kurdish horses in Iran, with more work being done to maintain and preserve the pure bloodlines.
All Persian horses are beautiful and worth learning about, especially within the context of their culture. Unfortunately, a few of the breeds are rare or even endangered. You can do your part to support them and their breeders by sharing what you’ve learned about them with others!
Featured Image: Roberto Rodriguez Reyes, Shutterstock