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American Bashkir Curlies by Marni Malet
American Baskir Curly

This horse is famous for it's ability to endure hardship.


Nearly all that is known about Curly horses today stems from the work of one family in Nevada, the Damele's. In 1879, Giovanni (John) Damele immigrated from Italy and in 1898 he purchased the Three Bars Ranch in Nevada. Bennv Darnele, his grandson, notes that it was probably about this time that they first spotted curly horses running in the wild herds near the ranch. It wasn't until 1931 that they possessed their first Curly. Two ofthe Damele boys caught a sorrel in the Roberts mountain range. They broke him to ride and sold him.

In 1932 the Great Basin was hit by an extremely harsh winter. Most of the domestic stock and wild horses either starved or froze to death. Among the few survivors were the Curlies. It became apparent to the Dameles that these horses had special features, which enabled them to survive. They were also gentle, easy to train and could work cattle. At this point they made an assertive effort to capture and breed the horses. In 1942, Peter Damele moved his family to the Dry Creek Ranch just south of Three Bars. Dry Creek is the ranch associated with the breeding of the first Curly Horses.

In 1971 Benny Damele and Sunny Martin organized the American Bashkir Curly Registry in hopes of preserving this remarkable horse. Because of the small number of horses they had to work with- inbreeding was a major concern. In an effort to introduce new blood they agreed to cross with the following four breeds: Arabians, who shared the same 5 vertebrae spine and endurance. Morgans, who had very similar conformation, Appaloosas, who were known as endurance horses and had the same trait of shedding their manes and tails and Missouri Fox Trotters, who Sunny felt shared the smooth gait of the Curly. Some feel that the only "gait" exhibited by the original Curly is actually a "running walk" or "Indian shuffle"… not the full gait of the Missouri Fox Trotter.

Research continued and it was discovered that the Curly horses were not limited to Nevada. The Crow and Lakota Sioux had also found Curly horses in the plains of South Dakota. The Sioux winter count of 1801 depicts the Sioux stealing Curly horses from the Crow. Descendants of these horses are considered "Native American Curlies".

There are many theories regarding how the Curly Horse came to the Americas and all of these theories have been explored in the book "The Curly Horse in America - Myth and Mystery". While many possibilities were explored - none have been proven.

This unique horse is known foremost for it's curly coat. This coat is not typical horsehair but more closely resembles mohair. The hair can be spun and woven into garments. The hair is also hypoallergenic. People who are allergic to other horses usually will not have a reaction to Curlies. Some horses shed their manes and tails every Year, only to grow them back in the winter. It is thought that this might be nature's way of eliminating mattes from forming in the mass of ringlets.

The Curlies are also known for their gentle disposition, high intelligence, stout, strong bone, soundness, versatility of performance, strength and endurance. This horse is famous for it's ability to endure hardship and would definitely be classified as an "easy keeper" but it still needs all the care and comforts that would be offered to any other horse. They need to be wormed, vaccinated, fed and have their feet cared for. Stories have circulated to the contrary, and unfortunately, this has resulted in the deaths of several horses.

Many breeders are crossbreeding in an effort to "improve" the breed. This is unfortunate as the bloodlines are being diluted and some of the true Curly traits are being lost. There are now curly coated horses of every size, sharp and color imaginable. They have proven themselves to be extremely versatile and have won awards in all types of competition. While we are proud of all that our Curly-crosses have accomplished, there is now a move on by the American Bashkir Curly Registry to close the books and discourage any further out crossing.

About the author...
Bear Paw Ranch is a small breeding farm dedicated to preserving the original Curly Horse. I realize that there is no such thing as a “pure” Curly. However, my breeding stock resembles, as closely as possible, the original Curly Horse as described by the cowboys who first encountered them in the wild herds of Nevada. Through selective breeding, I hope to maintain not only the hardy conformation, but the gentle dispositions of these unique horse. Every year I offer three quality foals for sale. All are imprinted at birth and handled daily. I would love to tell you about them personally. Pictured is my stud BNC HOBO.

Contact: Marni Malet
36809 Mann Road
Sultan, Washington 98294
Phone: 360-793-0517

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