The American Bashkir Curly horse, also known as the Curly horse, is a sweet-tempered, hardy breed with a naturally curly coat.
The Curly stands between 14hh and 16hh and can weigh from 360kg up to 450kg. They are strongly built, with a short back and one fewer vertebra, as well as strong cannon bones and a well-muscled neck. Their hooves are unusually tough and do not require shoes under normal circumstances.
From dressage to eventing, ranch work to jumping, the Curly can excel in most equestrian disciplines. Their calm temperament makes them easy to handle and an ideal option for the young rider or beginner, while also being adept therapeutic riding horses for both children and adults.
The origin of the Curly horse remains a mystery despite much speculation. According to the American Bashkir Curly Horse Registry, curly-haired horses were found in the wild herds at the Damele family ranch in Nevada.
However, research has shown that the Curly was not limited to Nevada. In the past, Native American tribes, Sioux and Crow, captured curly-haired horses in the plains of South Dakota.
It was originally believed that the Russian Bashkir was an ancestor of the American Bashkir, however this was confirmed not to be true and the name, American Bashkir Curly, was adopted to distinguish between the two breeds.
The American Bashkir Curly Registry was formed in 1971. At the time only 21 horses were registered. Today, American Bashkir Curly horses are spread right throughout the world.
The curly coat
The most unique characteristic of the breed is, of course, its curls.
Some horses have more coat curliness than others, but the curls are always more prominent in the winter months. The winter coat shows a variety of curl patterns, commonly described as marcel wave, crushed velvet and micro curl. Curls range from ringlets to dense waves.
The summer coat usually still has a curly pattern, just not as dramatic as seen in winter, with curls ranging from smooth to wavy.
Their manes and tails are curly too and all Curly horses have curly hair inside their ears and at their fetlocks.
Curly horse breeders look to breed for the dominant curly gene, as it is responsible for the desirable curly coat pattern.
The curly hair of the breed is not typical horsehair but closely resembles mohair, a silk-like fabric or yarn made from the hair of the Angora goat. It is considered to be hypoallergenic and often those who are allergic to straight-haired horse breeds usually have a lessened or no reaction to Curly horses.
More information about the breed can be found on the American Bashkir Curly Horse Registry website.Photo credit: American Bashkir Curly Horse Registry