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American Bashkir Curly Horse

The American Bashkir Curly is one of the most mysterious breeds. It’s the only known hypoallergenic horse. People who are allergic to horses often find that they are not allergic to Curly Horses.

These unique horses with a curly coat are indeed a breed, a very old ancient breed found in art and statuary in early China as far back as 161 AD. There is also historic evidence of their presence in South America and Europe.

How did the Curly horses come to the USA? The answer is still uncertain, but there is proof that the Curlies have been in North America since the early 1800s.

American Bashkir Curly Horse

Many Indian pictographs illustrating the "Winter Counts" (number of horses in their herd) have noted that in the winter of 1801-1802 the Sioux had stolen some curly horses from the Crow. This incident placed the tribes at the Standing Rock/Cheyenne River Reservation at the mouth of the Grand River in the Dakotas.

A significant location of the Curlies today has been traced to Indian Reservations in North and South Dakota. Many Curlies then and now have been acquired from the wild horses that roam the open lands of the United States.

One theory as to how curly coated horses ended up roaming with the wild mustangs of the West, was that the Russian Bashkir Curly horses that were originally shipped with the Russian colonist who tried to settle America’s Northwest territory during the 1700’s, set their remaining horses free after abandoning their westward expansion. Unfortunately, through further research, including consultations with Russian scientists, the Moscow Zoo and the Ministry of Agriculture, it was determined that there are no curly haired horses originating from the Bashkir region.

Another theory suggests that the ancestors of the Bashkir Curly Horse may have crossed the land bridge during the last Ice Age. But there is no fossil evidence to support the existence of horses in the America's from the last Ice Age until the reintroduction of horses to this hemisphere by the Spanish.

American Bashkir Curly Horse

The modern day history of the American Bashkir Curly dates to 1898. Peter Damele and his father were riding the Peter Hanson Mountains in the remote high country of Central Nevada, near Austin, when they spotted three horses with tight curly ringlets over their entire bodies. It was intriguing to both father and son as to where these horses came from and just why they were there, questions that remain a mystery even today. However, from that day to this, there have always been curly-coated horses on the Damele range. Many of the Bashkir Curly Horses in the U.S. can be traced back to the Damele herd.

Establishing The American Bashkir Curly Horse Registry in 1971, the founders set out to save these animals from extinction in the U.S., as it was found that many of them, through ignorance, were being slaughtered. They then began the process of establishing breeding traits. To accomplish this, owners were asked to list the characteristics unique to the Bashkir Curly Horse. When compiled these brought out several interesting features unique to the breed:

American Bashkir Curly Horse

  • Bashkir Curly Horse's appear in all common horse colors including Appaloosa and Pinto
  • Curlies somewhat resemble the early day Morgan in conformation
  • A number of traits have been found in this unique breed that link them to the primitive horse
  • Curlies are of medium size
  • Their soft, calm looking eyes have an unusual Oriental slant to them, which gives them a sort of sleepy look, but which also tends to give them a larger range of vision to the rear. The sleepy look is very deceiving, as they have a proud carriage, are very alert and not lazy and most move at a running walk.
  • Their unusually tough black hoofs are almost perfectly round in shape
  • They also have stout round-bone cannons
  • They have 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, all of which contribute to their strength and endurance
  • The foals arrive with thick, crinkly coats almost resembling astrakhan (‘as-tra-kan) wool, even inside their short broad ears
  • They also have beautiful curly eyelashes
  • Curlies are born with an unusually affectionate disposition and insist on being friendly. When excited or at play, the foals move at a bold trot with their tails absolutely straight in the air
  • They have a double mane which splits down the middle leaving curly ringlets hanging on both sides of the neck
  • Their body coat sheds out in the summer and it becomes wavy or fairly straight on their body, with their beautiful curly coat returning in the late fall
  • Several winter coat patterns have been observed, from a crushed velvet effect, to a perfect marcel (mar-‘sel) wave, to extremely tight curls over the entire body.
  • It has been tested and proven that flat hair is curly, yet when the hair of the Curlies was tested it was found to be round
  • One other thing about their hair that should be mentioned is that a number of owners who are allergic to horses find that they are not allergic to their Curlies.

Their most cherished quality is their calmness and extremely gentle disposition. We do feel that this is one of the breed’s finest features. Many have been taken off the open range, even full grown animals, and in a day or two, they are gentler than horses that have been handled for years. Nothing seems to ruffle them. They do not tend to resort to the flight response when frightened, which has historically been the Horse’s greatest means of survival. Curlies, with their naturally curious nature, prefer to face the unknown rather than run from it. If they feel something is a real danger to them, they prefer to kick rather than run. Although they will struggle frantically when first roped or haltered, they soon respond to kindness and affection because of their inherent gentle nature. They seem unable to cope with or tolerate abuse. They will tend to freeze in place when they find themselves in a tight spot so they seldom get themselves hurt, even if caught in barbed wire. They delight in human companionship and love to be talked to.

American Bashkir Curly Horse

In terms of performance, Curlies are a no-nonsense breed and have an uncanny ability to do all that is asked of them since they are usually intelligent, learn quickly and possess a remarkable memory (for both good and bad experiences). They have won trophies in arena events such as: Western Riding, Reining, Gymkhana Eventing, Hunter/Jumper, Roping, English Equitation, Western Pleasure, Gaited Pleasure, Dressage and Driving. They have won in Competitive and Endurance Trail Riding and are excellent mounts in the mountains, ideal for ranch work and as an all-round pleasure horse.

For more information about the American Bashkir Curly Horses, visit our website at: licensed breeder of ABCR.
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