Coat: Fine, soft hair, in ringlets, often described as crushed velvet. Kinky, wavy mane and tail.
Head: Noticeably small at maturity, soft eyes, crested and supple neck.
Conformation: Powerful, rounded shoulders, deep chest, short barrel, strong back, deep girth, full, muscular hindquarters, straight, strong legs, hard and dense hooves.
Gait: Smooth gaits, usually with running walk or fox-trot.
Size: 14.2 to 15.3 hh
Weight: 1,000- 1,300 lbs.
Disposition: Known for their calm and gentle nature. Do not resort to flight when frightened but rather appear to prefer to face the unknown than run from it. Cannot seem to cope with or tolerate abuse.
The Bashkir Curly is named for the Bashkiri people of Russia, for whom these horses provided transportation, clothing, meat and milk, from perhaps as early as 161 AD.
How the first Curly came to North America is a mystery, but it is believed that they have been here for nearly two centuries. Sioux Indian tribe records indicate that the winter of 1801 is known as the winter the Sioux stole the Curly horses from the Crow tribe. This tribe lived around North and South Dakota and many of today’s Curly horses can be traced back to the Dakotas. The Damele family of Nevada is credited as one of the most important breeders of this continent. After acquiring a ranch in Nevada in 1899, they spotted the first Curlies running with a wild horse band on their range. It wasn’t until 1931 that they caught the first Curly and broke it to ride. In 1932, much of the Damele’s horse stock was struck down during a particularly vicious winter. Among the survivors were a few Curly horses, which then became the base of their remuda.
In Canada, the Skjonsberg family brought Curly horses with them to Alberta when they moved there from South Dakota around the turn of the century. The family still raises the horses and is considered an important Canadian breeder.
Curly horses have also been observed in wild horse herds in Alberta as far back as 1920, and their presence was noted in Manitoba around the same time.
“My experience in handling Curly horses has been a pleasure. Their intelligence and the performance of this particular breed has always been extraordinary. Having broke and rode many horses, the Bashkir Curly horses have proven to be gentle, easy to break, and for the most part, big-hearted.” Sandy Johnson, horse trainer, Bluffton, Alberta.
“One young man came down from Sudbury to test our non-allergic horses. The look on his face when he didn’t react to the Curlies was priceless. He was used to breaking out in hives despite wearing protective clothing near horses. He was so amazed.” Sonja Oakes, Curly breeder, Guelph, Ontario.
Alexi, one of our most beautiful mares, stood absolutely still for 15 minutes while Kathryn delicately untangled her hoof from a mess of barbed wire.” Dan & Kathryn Cook, Curly breeders, Gray Creek, British Columbia.
You or anyone in your family is allergic to horses. This breed offers an excellent solution to those who are allergic to horses.
You enjoy a quiet, calm horse. Curly horses bond easily with adults and children and are quick and keen to learn.
You enjoy a horse with low maintenance. Many breeders leave their Curly horses outdoors all winter, and to anyone who is tired of mucking out stalls, that is an important consideration. Nature has provided the Bashkir with a unique heating and cooling system. Their thick winter coat repels rain and snow. Underneath, air is trapped near the short, downy coat next to the body to keep them warm. They also have naturally tough feet and do no require shoes.
You are looking for something unique. Put a few of these in your pasture and listen for the tires on the road next to it to come screeching to a halt. Few people are familiar with this shaggy, curly breed of horse. You’ll be sure to get your share of visitors.
(Note: This section is particularly out of date since this article was writting in 1999, but it’s still useful for historical purposes).
We found the following range of horses for sale on the Internet site of the Canadian Curly Horse Association (Canadian prices).
Eight-year-old chestnut gelding. Used on the ranch and ridden in the mountains, wall full of ribbons from shows. “$5,000.
Seven-year-old buckskin mare, broke to ride, needs finishing. Quiet and gentle. In foal. $5,000.
Weanling fillies and stud colts, $800-$1,200.
The Canadian Curly Horse Association
RR 1, Bowden, Alberta T0M 0K0
E-mail: [email protected]
The American Bashkir Curly Registry
Ely, Nevada 89301
From: Northern Horse Review, January 1999