Baskhir Curly colt.


Baskhir Curly colt.


Baskhir Curly stallion.


Baskhir Curly Yearling Fillies.


Baskhir Curly horses seem to be a hardy breed and able to survive severe winter conditions. In the winter of 1951-52, the Curly horses were the only ones to survive on the range of Nevada without supplemental feeding.

The unique gene that gives Curlies their curly hair (which is most obvious with their winter coat) can be expressed minimally (horse exhibits curly hair inside ears, at fetlocks, and a kinky mane and tail), maximally (horse exhibits curl all over body, has dreadlocked mane, and has curly eyelashes and guard hairs), and "Extreme" (very tight, extreme curls, but when they shed out for summer can shed entirely bald) or any variation in between. The coat in the summer shows a slight wave in it, but not as extreme as the winter curls.

The Bashkir Curly transmits the curly characteristic to its offspring about fifty percent of the time, even when mated to horses without the curly coat. Because the trait can be carried heterozygously, some purebred Curlies exhibit no curl at all. (Called "smooth coat" curlies). Many individuals have been found without ergots. Some have small, soft chestnuts. Their eyes have the wide set eyes characteristic of Oriental breeds. This is said to give them a wider range of vision. They are described as having tough, black hoofs are almost perfectly round in shape; an exceptionally high concentration of red blood cells; stout round-bone cannon; straight legs that also move straight; flat knees; strong hocks; short back which indicates five lumbar vertebrae; round rump without crease or dimple; powerful rounded shoulders; V'd chest and round barrel. The foals arrive with thick, crinkly coats, curls inside their ears and curly eyelashes.

Curlies have split manes and are not braided or clipped when shown. Curlies are most commonly chestnut colored, but can be found in every color from standard bays, blacks, and greys, to appaloosa markings; from pinto patterns to dilute colors such as buckskin, roan, grulla, and cremello.

The care for the curly hair is simple with most people choosing to not comb the mane because the hair will lose its curliness. The manes are often trimmed to keep them from matting. The tails can be combed. Some people choose to collect the hair that is shed from the mane and tails in the spring. The hair is then donated to the ICHO Fiber Guild. They use the hair for spinning. All of the proceeds go to ICHO Curly Research Efforts.

Curlies are claimed to be the only hypoallergenic horse breed; most people allergic to horses can handle Curly Horses without suffering any allergic reaction. Research indicates a protein is missing from the hair of Curlies which may be what causes allergic reactions to horses in allergy suffers, but the study was never officially published. Members of the Curly Community are working towards funding more research on this.

The Curlies are known for their calm, intelligent and friendly personality. They show an easily trainable temperament. They are also known for having a tough constitution and great stamina. Most people have found that the curlies enjoy being around people. The curlies are typically not flighty. They tend to do more reasoning than most breeds. They are very reliable and have a great work ethic. They are certainly eye catching and unusual in the show ring, Curlies have the movement, endurance, and heart to excel in competition. Curlies have been shown at upper levels of dressage and show jumping, and others have proved the reliable mount and patient teacher for the weekend competitor. Curlies are characteristically quiet, level headed horses that make excellent first horses for supervised beginner riders. Curlies have carried horse-allergic riders from beginner status through ever more advanced stages of equestrianism. They have also been used for combined driving, western riding, ranch horses, trail horses, and companions for other horses. Some Curlies have been crossbred to gaited horses. About 10% of the crossbreds will do one of the ambling gaits such as the running walk, fox trot or the stepping pace, which is also called the "Curly shuffle."

One theory is that the origin of the breed is Iberian. It has been noted that foals of cross bred horses have the curly hair. This suggests that the curly gene is dominant.

The Curly horse was first documented in Eureka, Nevada in the early 20th century by rancher John Damele and his sons. While Mustangs were a common sight, curly coated horses were unusual. Years later, the Dameles managed to catch one, broke it to ride and sold it, thus starting their relationship with the breed. In 1932, an unusually harsh winter hit the area, and come spring the only horses that could be found were the Curlies. This evidence of hardiness was noted by the Damele family, and they decided they should include more of these horses in their herd. After another harsh winter in 1951/52, the Dameles started to get serious about breeding these horses. They went out and found their foundation stallion, a two-year-old chestnut in one of the mustang herds. They called him Copper D. The Dameles didn't care much for keeping the breed 'pure', and wanting to improve their horses, added some other blood to their herd. Among the stallions introduced were a Morgan, Ruby Red King AMHR 26101 and an Arabian, Nevada Red AHR 18125. These two stallions created many offspring for the Dameles, and are in hundreds of Curly horses' pedigrees today.

The American Bashkir Curly Registry started in 1971 and the founders set out to save these animals from extinction in the U.S., as it was found that too many of them, through ignorance, were being slaughtered. They then began the process of establishing breeding traits. To accomplish this U.S owners were asked to list the characteristics unique to the Bashkir Curly. These, when compiled, brought out several interesting features of the breed. One especially odd feature of the breed is the fact that they can completely shed out the mane hair (and sometimes even the tail hair) each summer, to grow back during the winter. Even though the mane hair is usually extremely fine and soft, it is quite kinky, and this ability to shed the mane is perhaps nature's way of coping with the corkscrew curls, as it would become quite impossible to manage if it became matted through years of growth. Too, their body coat sheds out in the summer and they become wavy or fairly straight on their body, with their distinctive winter coat returning in late fall. Several winter coat patterns have been observed, from crushed velvet effect, to a perfect marble wave, to extremely tight ringlets over the entire body.


Reference:
Hendricks, Bonnie L., International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds, Univ of Oklahoma Press, 1995