Part of Horse Previews Magazine website. Posted on 7/1/97; 10:00:00 AM.

The American Bashkir Curly

by Nancy Oesau, Hamilton, MT

The American Bashkir Curly horse derives its name from a belief that it is descended from a rugged breed of Mongol horse from the Bashkiri region of Russia, and also for its soft, thick, curly winter coat.

Curlies are typically of medium size, although they also come in pony and draft sizes. This rare breed is characterized by an unusually gentle, affectionate disposition; a willingness and ability to learn; good stamina; and easy keeping qualities. They have unusually hard hooves. Most Curlies never need shoes, even when ridden on rocky ground.

The curly coat sheds out in the summer becoming wavy or straight. Another distinctive trait to be noted about their coat is that people who are allergic to horses, are not allergic to Curlies!

Curly coated horses are an ancient breed, depicted in the art and statuary of early China, as far back as 100 AD. There is also evidence of their existence in Russia, South America, and Europe.

A mystery still surrounds the arrival, or origin of the Curly horse in the United States. It is known from pictographs illustrating "winter counts" (or years) that the Sioux and Crow Indians had curly horses in the mid to late 1700's. According to legend, Curly horses were owned and used only by the elite Sioux as "buffalo horses". The literature notes that only the fastest and bravest horses were used in hunting buffalo.

Later, in the early 1900's, wild Curly horses were domesticated by Peter Damele from the only horses surviving an exceptionally severe winter in the mountains of Nevada. The Dameles bred and used Curly horses on their ranch because they were rugged, easily trained and had exceptional endurance.

In 1971 the American Bashkir Curly Registry was established with 20 horses from the Damele Ranch, including some previously wild Nevada Curlies.

Curlies are particularly good pleasure and trail horses due to their calm nature, intelligence, good memory, and willingness to do what is asked of them. Moreover, they have proven themselves in arena events, winning trophies in Western Riding, Gymkhana, Hunter/Jumper, Roping, Equitation, Dressage, Driving, Pleasure, and both Competitive Trail and Endurance riding. They also make good cow horses, having the ability to "put a cow up a tree," according to one rancher.

Where the American Bashkir Curly horses came from or how they arrived here is still an unsolved puzzle. At present, there are less than 2,500 Curly horses registered, with a few left in the wild.

For more information, please contact: the American Bashkir Curly Registry, PO Box 246, Ely, NV, 89301; 702/289-4999 or Nancy Oesau, 326 McKillee, Hamilton, MT 59840.

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