Origin of the Breed:
Bashkir Curly dates to 1898 when Peter Damele and his father were riding
horseback in the Peter Hanson mountain range in the remote high country of
central Nevada, near Austin. There they discovered three horses with
tight, curly ringlets covering their entire bodies. Since then, the Curly
horses have been found on the Damele range and many Curlies in the United States
can be traced to that herd.
There have been
various theories proposed to explain the presence of the Curly horse in North
America. Some have suggested that they came across the Bering Strait land
bridge during the last ice age, but no fossil evidence has been found to support
that. Others suggest that curly coated horses were imported while the
Russians occupied parts of the West Coast of North America. However, Shan
Thomas' research shows there was no mention of the importation of horses into
North America by Russian settlers in their ships logs. Horses were used on
a limited basis during the Russian experimentation with farming during the late
1700's and early 1800's in present day Alaska. Stock breeding was not very
successful with most settlements only able to keep a small number of cattle,
sheep, pigs and chickens. In 1817 there were only sixteen horses in
Russian America and they were more likely the hardy "Yakut" and not the Bashkir
breeds. It is very unlikely that even this breed of horse could have made
the treacherous journey from Alaska to Nevada.
is that a man by the name of Tom Dixon imported the curly horses from northern
India to Nevada around 1880. Although this theory cannot be fully proved
or disproved the Curly horse was already present in America by that time.
Evidence shows that Sioux Indians had Curly horses as early as 1801-02 and in
his 1848 autobiography circus master P.T. Barnum, writes of obtaining and
exhibiting a curly horse.
As early as the
late 1700's, sightings of curly horses were reported in South America. It
seems possible, but cannot be concluded, that the Spanish conquistadors may have
brought curly horses, or the curly gene, to South America, as there are several
European breeds with curly hair. Another suggestion is that Norse or
Celtic explorers brought curly horses to North America prior to 1492 but this
theory has yet to be fully investigated. With all these possibilities as to the
origin of this unique breed no definitive answers have yet to be agreed upon.
Lab at UC-Davis did a separate research on blood typing of over 200 Curly
horses. It was found that although one can not definitively identify a
horse's breed by it's blood type characteristics there are characteristics
common to an individual breed. This testing was seen as a method to
determine if the Bashkir Curly did in fact display the blood characteristics of
a distinct breed. The findings however were that the modern curly horse is
not a genetically distinct breed, but has been crossed with many other breeds,
particularly Quarter Horses and Morgans. The rare and unusual variants
that did emerge from this testing are found only in feral horses or those breed
based on the feral herds. No single blood marker was found common in all
Bashkir Curly horses appear in all common horse colors including Appaloosa and
Pinto. A typical Curly is of medium size, resembling the early day Morgan
in confirmation. The wide set eyes (characteristic of Oriental horses) are
said to give the breed a wider range of vision to the rear. They are
alert, have a proud carriage and most move at a running walk or foxtrot.
The hooves are black and hard, almost perfectly round in shape. Curly
horses have an exceptionally high concentration of red blood cells, stout, round
cannon bones and straight legs. The knees are flat. They have strong
hocks, short, strong backs ; the rump is round without a crease; shoulders are
powerful and rounded; and the chest is wide and deep. Foals arrive with
thick, curly coats, curls inside their ears and curly eyelashes.
The odd feature
of Curlies is that they often completely shed out the mane hair and sometimes
the tail in the summer, growing it back in the winter. The hair of the
mane and tail is fine and silky but often quite kinky. The summer coat is
often wavy or rather straight with the curls returning in the winter coat.
The American Bashkir Curly transmits the curly characteristics to offspring
approximately half of the time even when mated to horses without curly coats.
Bashkir Curly as a gentle nature and is easy to train. They are hardy and
able to survive extreme winter conditions. The American Bashkir Curly
Registry was established in 1971 to protect these unique horses from extinction
in the United States.
- AMERICAN BASHKIR CURLY REGISTRY/ PO Box 246/ Ely, NV 89301
-NORTH AMERICAN CURLY HORSE ORGANIZATION: (406) 259-2664