The history of the Bashkir Curly is a bit foggy, as curly-coated horses have been documented in various sites around the world including in ancient Asian artwork, 19th-century South America and Native American lore. Others say they have Iberian lineage, or may have migrated across the land bridge that linked Asia and North America before the last ice age. (Note that a study published in 1990 found it unlikely that the American Bashkir Curly descends from the Bashkir breed of horse which originated in Russia and also sports a curly coat.).

The modern-day North American version of the Curly goes back to 1898 when Peter Damele spotted three horses with curled coats in the central Nevada mountains. The family began breeding these horses; most Bashkir Curly horses found in the US trace back to this herd.

Characteristics

Closeup of a Bashkir Curly horse’s coat. (Penella22/WikimediaCommons.org)

The breed is best known for its soft coat that can either be wavy or in tight curls, including the mane and tail. The curls are most pronounced in the winter coat, which sheds to reveal either straight or slightly wavy hair. The mane and tail often shed out completely in the summer as well. Curlies are claimed to be the only hypoallergenic horse breed.

The Bashkir Curly comes in various shapes and sizes, but generally they have wide-set eyes, tough hooves, strong bones, powerful hocks, and stand at medium height (14-16 hands, although two registries allow Miniature and Draft horses). The Curly has a long, bold stride and exceptional endurance; a small percentage also display a foxtrot-like gait, a lateral walk and a stepping pace called the ‘Curly shuffle.’ Commonly chestnut-coated, other colours including bay, black, gray, buckskin, roan, grulla, and cremello are sometimes seen, and occasionally appaloosa markings and pinto patterns.

Uses

With its even temperament and versatility, the Bashkir Curly is suitable for western riding, reining, barrel racing, hunter/jumper, dressage, eventing and driving. They excel as trail and pack horses and in endurance and competitive trail rides. Their gentle nature makes them good with children as 4H & pony club mounts, or as therapeutic horses.

For more information, visit:
American Bashkir Curly Horse Registry