Louise Firouz, who rediscovered a long forgotten horse breed — the Caspian — died on 25 May aged 74.

Louise formed a large equestrian centre in Iran, when she moved there after marrying Iranian aristocrat Narcy Firouz in the early 1960s.

The centre mainly had spirited Turkmen mares and stallions but in 1965, determined to find something more suitable for her children to ride, she decided to investigate rumours about a type of pony known to local farmers in the isolated Mazanderan province.

Louise found the breed and named it the Caspian, which archaeologists now believe to be the forerunner to the Arab, thought to have been extinct for over a thousand years, since the Mongolian wars.

The Caspian is small and narrow, standing at about 11.2hh with a good jumping and driving ability and was prized by King Darius, a famed lion hunter before the wars.

Caspian stock was exported to the UK, America and Europe, although attempts to further export in recent years proved difficult due to the Iranians prizing their country’s ‘national treasure’ and fearing their native stock would be depleted through export, making Louise fear for the survival of the breed outside Iran.

To fund her breeding programme Louise took international trekking parties into the forests often spending 10 hours a day in the saddle, despite being in her 70s, until she injured her shoulder in a fall in 2007.