Barnum made a small fortune charging curiosity seekers 25 cents a head to see the horse. His returns got even better after Fremont sued Barnum for his chicanery. The curly horse litigation made national headlines, and the free publicity further promoted Barnum's woolly horse exhibit.
Pioneers recorded various sightings of curly horses among wild herds in western Canada and the United States. In Canada, the pioneers saw them in such diverse places as the Cypress Hills in Saskatchewan and Aishiik Lake in the Yukon. No one has yet to discover for certain where these horses originated.
Few cowboys initially bothered with the strange breed until rough cold weather and temperature inversions wiped out a lot of the wild horses. Only Curlies, with their thick winter coats, survived, though they were gaunt. Given no choice, ranchers brought in several of these horses for work and quickly discovered their marvelous characteristics.
Nature ha provided curly horses with a unique heating and cooling system. Their thick curly winter coat, which they shed each spring, repels rain and snow. A shorter hair coat next to the body traps air that keeps the horses warm and able to withstand cold winters. For some reason, this unique hair coat is hypoallergenic, and most people with allergies to horses are not allergic to this breed.
We have had many people from around the world visit our farm near Guelph, Ontario, to see if they are allergic and have to disappoint a customer. Nothing could be more heart-warming than to se a smile on the face of someone who has been deprived of owning a horse due to allergies, able to realize the dream of horse ownership with a Curly horse. We have sold horses to Pennsylvania farmers who farm with horse-drawn machinery but are allergic to other horses.
Curlies have a gentle nature, bond with people, and learn quickly---traits that make them easy to train to harness. They also excel at modern events, including dressage, in which two Curly horses in the United States have reached high levels. Almost 3,500 head of this rare breed have been recorded since registration began in 1971. Our farm has the largest selection of trained Curly horses in Canada.
Another person who loves Curlies for their versatility is Jim Alan of Celtic Curlies in Lakebay, Washington. "Curlies can pack, plow, or carry riders," says Jim. "With their long legs, thick chests, and heavy bone and muscle, they make excellent work animals. Their calm disposition makes them easier to work around, too. We had our stallion, JC's Jubilee trained for harness work as well as riding so he could help with our farm chores."
Jim uses Jubilee to ski logs, often working pretty close to the stallion's feet without incident. "If you're thinking of working a piece of land with horses, consider Curlies," says Jim. "Their calm temperament and willingness to work, and the bond you'll form with your horses will make your chore a pleasure. A Curly is a lot less expensive to keep than a draft horse."
Among the best traits of these horses is their low maintenance. Our 55 Curlies stay outside year around. That consideration is important to a cowpoke tired of mucking out stalls. As a former feral horse, the Curly has tough hooves and, unlike other breeds, doesn't need shoes. Curlies are easy keepers and do well in hay alone. They are endowed with tremendous stamina and a surprising ability to pull and carry. They don't frighten easily, and in a bad situation will wait patiently until someone comes to help. Today, when so many people with little or no horse experience are buying horses, it is all the more important that a horse have a well balanced and gentle nature---qualities Curlies possess.