Where did Curly Horses originate?
There have been many theories on this, some believing that the "curly" part of the horse came from the Bashkir region of Russia, some feeling perhaps from the Lokai horses of Tajikistan. To this date nothing has been accurately proven. What is known is that the earliest documented Curly Horses in North America were with Native Americans in the Winter Count of 1801-2. At this time it was said that the Sioux had stolen Curly horses from the Crow. From then to now, several ranchers/breeders have been responsible for maintaining Curly Horse breeding. Some of the names you will hear are: Damele, Eli Bad Warrior, Berndt, Neidhard, Skjonsberg, and Fredell.
There are also Missouri Foxtrotters who, for an unknown reason, carry a dominant Curly gene. The founding sire of that line is *Curly Jim. Additionally, some curly horses carry a recessive gene for curly coats, two of which are Missouri Foxtrotters and Percherons.
Where are Curly Horses found now?
Curly Horses were originally found in Western North America. From there they have spread to the Eastern side of the continent, to Europe, and to Australia. There are less than 4,000 registered Curly Horses living!
I have heard that they are hypo-allergenic. What does that mean?
Hypo-allergenic means that, in this case, the horse is less likely to cause a person who is allergic to horses to have an allergic response. That does not mean that the person will not have an "allergy attack", but that often the symptoms are less severe if they are present at all. We do not know exactly why this is so, and studies are on going. We think it may be because the Curly Horse's hair is different than a regular horses, or that the proteins in their skin are different.
If you are an allergy sufferer, what this means is that you should use every means to test the horse you may be considering purchasing by either an in-person visit, or at least, by asking for some of the hair to be sent to you. And do make sure that you keep your allergy medicine close at hand because sometimes there is a response due to having multiple allergies.
I've heard that Curlies don't need any of the "normal" care of a horse like shoes, de-worming, grain, vaccinations, etc.
Curlies are horses. When we keep horses in a domestic environment we need to do things for them that wild horses may not require. Curlies, like any other, do best when their vaccinations, farrier work, and de-worming is kept up to date for their home area. Many Curly Horses are not shod because they tend to have naturally round and hard feet; however, depending on where they live and what they do, you may find them with shoes.
Most Curly Horses do get some grain or other feed supplement, again depending on where they live. Each region brings its own vitamin and mineral requirements that the horse cannot get from their hay ration. It is best to speak with a local veterinarian to find what is best for your area; however, many Curlies are "easy keepers" and do not need as much grain as a different breed of horse. Again, check with your veterinarian.
What does the asterisk mean in front of a Curly's name?
Curly Horses come in many coat types, just as human's hair varies, so does a Curly's. Some Curly Horses are even born without any apparent curl to their coats, and these we call Smooth-Coated Curlies. When you see an asterisk in front of the Curly's name it means that they have curls in their coat.
What do Curlies do?
Curly Horses can do anything at all! Curlies are known for being versatile, hardy, gentle horses. They are actively used in most of the standard disciplines for other horses such as: competitive and classical dressage, hunter/jumper, eventing, and combined driving. There have been Curly Horses used also in the western disciplines of barrels, reining, gymkhana, and Western pleasure.
You will find them being used as trail horses, pack horses, search and rescue horses. They compete in endurance and competitive trail. Many are used as 4H & Pony Club mounts or therapeutic horses and are wonderful with these children due to their usually gentle nature.
CURLIES CAN DO IT ALL!