(If you're interested in breed standards, please scroll to the bottom)
Where are they from?
It was once thought they were from Russia, thus the name 'Bashkir'. However, it has been discovered they are not from Russia, and the name has stuck. Curlies have been identified in several different countries, and in North America, as a favorite mount for the Sioux Indians. They were found roaming in Nevada in the late 1800's, by the Damele family. They were used on the Damele ranch, and bred there.
Are there a lot of them? (I've never heard of them?)
Some people thought the Curly was defective, and many were destroyed. In 1971, they were placed on the endangered species list, and a registry was formed to encourage the breeding. Since then, they have been removed from the endangered species list, as there are now over 2,000 in the world, most in North America. The registry has closed its doors, and allow only Curly to Curly breeding.
What is the most significant thing about them?
They are hypoallergenic! Most people who are allergic to horses have little to no reaction to the Curly. For these people, this is the only breed of horse they can have without needing medication and worrying about asthma attacks! Almost every Curly owner can tell a story or two of a person with allergies coming to see their horse, and going away happy, and not wheezing. In fact, many Curly owners are in that same boat- this is the horse they can enjoy without allergies!
What about those curly coats?
Winter is the best time to see their curls. Many have a straight summer coat, and some have a Marcel wave in summer. They do keep a curly mane and tail all year long. Although, some will even shed their mane and tail. You'll also notice curls in their ears, fetlocks, and eyelashes. They have 3 types of curls- ringlets, crushed velvet, and Marcel wave. Some Curlies have a combination of all 3. Under a microscope, their hair most closely resembles mohair instead of horsehair. Some Curly horses don't have the curls. They are referred to as 'straights'. They may have all the fine qualities of the Curly, but their hair is different. Some may exhibit a fuzziness in their coat. Some may still have the hypoallergenic qualities, too. Whatever they have or don't have, they are still a part of the Curly world, and are cherished every bit as much as their curly brothers and sisters are.
What do you do with them?
The Curly is a very versatile horse. Because of their calmness, intelligence, and desire to be with people, they are easily trained in many areas. They have been ridden in English, Western, Long Distance, and used for ranch work. They are most popular as a trail horse, and many are good for the beginning rider.
What are the Breed Standards?
The average size is 14.2 to 15.2 HH. The head is of medium size, with a well defined jaw and throatlatch. The eyes are wide set, and have an almond shape. The neck is medium length, and deep at the base. Their chest is wide with a 'V' shape. The back is short and deep. The rump is round and muscular. The legs are heavy boned, with a short cannon. Hooves are large and round, with a hoof wall of 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.
How can I tell the difference between a horse with Cushing's, and a Curly?
A horse with Cushing's has a pituitary problem. It is often seen in older horses. They also have a hard time shedding their coats. Their 'curls' are seen only in body hair. If the horse in front of you has long curls/ waves, and it's July, if the horse is old, and it's ear hairs, fetlocks, mane, and tail are straight, it should be tested for Cushing's, as that is a big possibility. However, if a the horse is young, it has short hair (in July, but curls in Dec.), curly mane and tail, curls in the ears, curly fetlocks, it is a curly!