The American Bashkir Curly is a breed of horse best known for its unusually long and curly coat. It is distinguished from a similar-looking breed, the Bashkir Curly, because it is not known how this horse came to the Americas and as such, they must be considered entirely different breeds until some link between them is discovered.

There are many theories as to how the American Bashkir Curly first came to America, and most of them have been disproven. One states that the breed was domesticated in Russia in the 1700s, then imported by Russian farmers. However, there are no records of any curly horses being transported to America by Russian immigrants in the 1800s, and most of the horses brought to America at this time died along the way. Another theory is that a man named Tom Dixon brought several ancestors of the Curly to America from North India in the 1880s. Although he may indeed have shipped these horses from India, there are records of their existance in America before 1880. Notably, Sioux Indians in the early 1800s wrote of stealing several Curlies from the Crow tribe, and P. T. Barnum described having obtained a horse with long, curly hair in the 1840s. Curly horses of various breeds have a long history of being companions for American Indians.

No matter how the horse got to America, it was made famous by Pete Damele and his father in 1898. They discovered three American Bashkir Curlies in the Pete Hanson Mountains in Nevada, and captured them. Damele was immediately fascinated by the breed, and dedicated the rest of his life to breeding these horses. It was around this time when the American Bashkir Curly was named after the Bashkir Curly. A Russian curly horse breed had been identified in an American newspaper as the Bashkir. Although it is more likely that this horse was the Lokai, native to Tajikistan, the name stuck.

The American Bashkir Curly was subsequently bred with Arabians, Morgans, and Quarter Horses to blend their strength, stamina, and beauty with its natural good temperament. As a result, the Curly is a very hardy horse, which has been known to withstand temperatures as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit with its furry winter coat. It is also extremely docile, affectionate, and trusting, although its bloodline is full of horses that naturally overreact to punishment and so it also has this fault. In terms of temperament, the American Bashkir Curly is much like a puppy or kitten. It has competed and excelled in many divisions, including driving, dressage, barrel racing, pole bending, gymkhana, hunting, jumping, roping, cutting, Western riding, Western equitation, Western pleasure, English equitation, English pleasure, gaited pleasure, competitive riding, and endurance riding. The official registry for the breed was established in 1971, to prevent the horses from being slaughtered out of ignorance and accidentally killed. Since that time, slightly over 2000 American Bashkir Curlies have been registered in the United States.


The curly, soft hair is the most noteworthy aspect of the American Bashkir Curly's appearance. The curly coat occurs in approximately 50% of all Curly foals, regardless of what type of coat the parents have. It is shed at the beginning of summer and replaced with a wavy or even a straight coat. The mane and tail of the Curly are also shed completely and regrown throughout the summer. This is a very rare trait; few other breeds are able to shed their mane and tail hair. The coat comes in almost all solid colors, as well as appaloosa and pinto, due to the breed's lack of genetic purity. The most frequently seen color is a light brown or chestnut, sometimes with dark brown or black spots.

The Curly is a medium-sized horse, although it is also occasionally seen in a pony size. The features vary widely depending on the horse; however, all American Bashkir Curlies have wide-set, round eyes that give them a wide range of vision. Its natural movement is a running walk or moderate trot. The horse's height is generally around 15 hands. Its overall appearance is one of tough sturdiness, with wide, strong legs, tough knees, and incredibly hard, well-shaped black hooves. The American Bashkir Curly is made to withstand a wide range of temperatures and environments, and to move quickly for long periods of time.


American Bashkir Curly Registry -
Kentucky Horse Park American Bashkir Curly Page -
Central Pets American Bashkir Curly -
The British Horse Society -
Gaited Horse Book and Gifts -

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