She was a gift from a neighboring town called Nisa. The horse, the Nisean horse, was something special. They did not possess the dainty frames of the Arabian horse. This breed may have been a descendant of the “Forest Horse” proto-type. They were tall and swift and robust like a warhorse. The Nisean horse had bony knobs on their forehead that were often referred to as “horns.” Common colors were dark bay, chestnut, but rarer colors were found: black, roan, palomino and pinto patterns.
In ancient times, this horse was considered the most valuable horse in the world. Pure white Nisean horses were the horses of kings and gods. One legend is Cyrus the Great (the founder of the Persian empire under the Achaemenid dynasty) was so distraught when one of his stallions drowned as he crossed a river, the ruler ordered the river drained, for he did not believe that anything that killed something so beautiful should be allowed to live.
Great historical leaders sought to own the horse dubbed
the “Heavenly Horse”:
· * Xerxes raced his Nisean mares against the legendary Thessalian mares and won
· * General Mardonius’s Nisean warhorse was so feared, the Athenians devised a plan to kill the horse
· * Alexander the Great conquered Persia and demanded tribute of thousands of Nisean horses
· * Roman writer Strabo said the horse was the most elegant riding horse alive
This horse became extinct when Constantinople fell in 1204.
I really enjoyed writing about this great horse that no longer walks among us.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more!