Spotlight Feature of the Month: The Rare and Ancient Caspians
Imagine all the best traits of a hot-blooded horse wrapped up into a pony-sized package...
by Barbara Nefer
“Unfortunately, this has created a scarcity of working animals. There are too many stallions and not enough geldings. Due to their size, Caspians need a smaller rider, but the mares are all out there pregnant and you don't want to put a kid on a stallion. Because of that, these horses rarely get a chance to really show what they can do.” Dick also laments that out of the 600 Caspians currently in the U.S., very few are working horses. “So many are just hanging around in someone's backyard,” he says. He and his horses are doing all that they can to change this. They are active participants in exhibitions and clinics throughout the area and as far away as Kentucky, showing off the Caspian's driving ability.
“I'm not a competitor,” Dick says, “so I don't show them. I don't feel the need to beat the other guy. That's too much stress, and it just doesn't appeal to me.
“My mission is to educate people about the Caspian horse, and I'd rather do that by exhibiting and entertaining. There are thousands of equestrians who've never even heard of the breed. In a show ring, I might be seen by 50 competitors who are already into driving and ponies. At an exhibition, I can reach hundreds of people. There were 1500 in the stands at an expo I attended in Lake Helen/Deland.”
Even though awareness of the Caspian is still low, Dick's efforts are increasing it slowly but surely. He looks forward to the day when this dynamic little horse is used to its full potential. “Most Caspians have only been in the United States since mid-1990s, and most that were imported were quite young. That means that you're dealing with a young population,” he says. “Finding one over ten years old is rare, and it's usually one of the original imports.”
Because of the newness, there are no Caspians or Caspian cross-breeds making waves on the show scene yet. But as they become more plentiful and popular, the day is sure to come when a plucky little horse that almost faced extinction will make its mark on the modern equestrian scene.
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