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Rare Horse Can Make Hair Curl

By Ned Bell

It was a marriage that just couldn't last.

The bride was a quiet, small-town girl from southern Indiana. The groom had run wild and free in Wyoming. But it did last, at least long enough to result in a curly-haired baby born this month near Waterville.

What makes the story unusual is that the new family is the first of its kind in the neighborhood. They are registered American Bashkir Curly horses, a rare breed characterized by a gentle disposition, ability to learn, and hypoallergenic qualities---and curly hair.

The foal born in mid-April is the first Curly foal in northwest Ohio, according to its owners, Al and Debra Randolph. Its mother and a companion mare are the first Curlies in the area, she adds. There are only about 20 in Ohio and less than 2,000 registered throughout the country.

Curlies are distinguishable from "straight-haired" horses by the curly hair, particularly in their manes, ears, tails, and fetlocks, or ankles. Little is known of the origin of the American Curly. It is believed they are descendants of a Mongol or Russian horse from the Bashkiri region of Russia.

But Curlies are occasionally found among the wild Mustang herds in the American West. References have been found to both Sioux and Crow Indians having Curly or "woolly" horses in the late 1700s.

The sire of the newborn foal is a Mustang captured in Wyoming by the Bureau of Land Management and adopted by an Indiana family. The mother, Babe, was obtained by the Randolphs from another Indiana farm.

The Randolphs, who never before owned horses, became interested in the Curly breed when they learned that people who were allergic to other horses usually have no allergic reaction to Curlies. Mrs. Randolph's daughter, Erinn Small, was involved in the 4-H horse program, but found she was allergic to horses.

"Whenever she took riding lessons or was around horses, her eyes would run and her nose would get stuffy," Mrs. Randolph said.

"One day, we were in a tack shop in Michigan and saw a picture of a white Curly and the information said the breed was hypoallergenic. So we wrote to the American Bashkir Curly Registry and got the names of breeders," she said.

"We intended to wait two years to get one because we didn't have a barn. But within six months, we bought Babe."

Photo sidebar: New curly colt Baby Red gets hugs from Erinn, left, and Debra Randolph with mama, Babe, nearby.

"I always said there was no way we would have horses," Mrs. Randolph said. "But now if it came down to one or the other, the horses or my husband, it would be a toss-up," she said with a smile.

Erinn now rides and shows Babe and another mare, Buttons, in area shows with no allergic reaction. At the Lucas County Fair last year, she placed in the top third in four classes in the 4-H horse show.

Babe wasn't just bred in Indiana. She was "married." When the Randolphs took her to Sunman, Indiana, to be bred, Mrs. Randolph sent along a wedding ox complete with a bottle of champagne, a big white bow to adorn her tail, and a temporary marriage license.

Strickland Farm, owners of the stud, Red Baron, in Sunman, Indiana, got into the act, dressing the "groom" in cardboard bow-tie for the ceremony and having their dog serve as ringbearer.

It's all on tape and someday may make national television. A videotape was made of the wedding ceremony and submitted to "America's Funniest Home Video." But Mrs. Randolph said she hasn't heard from he show's produces.

The American Bashkir Curly Registry was started in 1971 with only 20 horses. In 1989, a research and educational group, the Curly Horse Foundation, Inc., was organized to catalog all known Curlies and to support future research projects such as DNA mapping and historic-origin investigations.

In 1999, a second registry, the American Curly Horse Association, was established to recognize the Curly as a native American breed.

The Randolphs, who have named their farm Rainbow Curlies, are accepting applications for "adopting" the foal, called Baby Red. The foal will be sold at weaning time.

From The Blade, Toledo, OH, Monday, May 3, 1993
 

 

 

Tamea C. Denault

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Tamea C. Denault is the founder of Dreamswept Farm and coach of the MountainWind Vaulters in Kettle Falls, WA. She is a certified CHA multi-discipline riding instructor. While earning her degree in psychology and education at Mt. Holyoke College, she also learned vaulting and has continued vaulting and coaching ever since. More...