Domaine du Ranch Namaspamoos -
Updated: October 30, 2007 
Domaine du Ranch Namaspamoos - Ranch Namaspamoos -
249, Route 221 Sud, Lacolle, Qc J0J 1J0 Canada  
Tel: +1 450-246-4641  
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Curly coated and hypoallergenic!

"Bashkir" or not "Bashkir"? - The History of Curly Horses - Canadian Curly Horses History
Curly Characteristics - Types of Curly Horses - Caring for Curly Horses.



The word "Bashkir" used to call our North American curly coated horses comes from a misinterpretation done by some of the founders of the ABC Registry (American Bashkir Curly Registry). As there is no archives to look into, we have to trust the word of Benny Damele, one of the original Curly horse breeder in Nevada. It seems than

" the 1930's or 40's the Damele family came into possession of a Sunday cartoon (...). The small drawing and its caption had ben kept in a family photo album since that time. It was this cartoon that Benny Damele remembered as a source of the idea that the horses come from Russia. (...) this cartoon is the only reference which calls a curly coated horse in Russia a Bashkir. There is no further information about the source of the information used to write the caption in (...) the cartoon. Given the significant differences in the Bashkir horse and the Lokai horse we consider it unwise to base the North American Curly Horse's breed characteristics on this reference.

But for now we are left with two conclusions. The Russian horse with curls is the Lokai not the Bashkir. The American horse with curls may have received some of these genes in the late 1800's in central Nevada."

the cartoon from where the "Bashkir" word was attached to the North American curly coated horse

Quoted from: Myth and Mystery: The Curly Horse in America
by Shan Thomas with special assistance from David Gaier & Dr. Ann Bowling.



The North American Curly Horse or, more  simply “The Curly” is quite a rare horse which truly is out of the ordinary. In November 2002, slightly more than 3000 of these horses were registered in the Stud-book of the American Bashkir Curly Registry. Now, there is a little bit more than 3500 full registered Curlies alive.
Curly horses in America were known to the Native Americans. The Crow & Sioux both had Curly horses. The documentation of this is found in their calendars called "Winter Counts" which are picture books of sketches showing events during certain years. In the winter of 1801-02 it shows a drawing of a Curly horse and is remembered as the winter the Sioux stole Curly horses from the Crow. The Curly has been said to be sacred horses to the Indians, called Buffalo Ponies & owned by Chiefs and Medicine Men. A Native American depicted Curly horses at the battle of Little Bighorn of 1876 in drawings he made. Curly horses were found at the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. They have also been found at the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota & at Rock Springs, Wyoming.

The Damele's are the most well know for their breeding of Curly horses in Nevada. Giovanni (John) Damele, an Italian immigrant, settled near Eureka, Nevada with his family and started ranching. They spotted Curly horses in the mustang herds of Nevada as early as the late 1800’s. In the winter of 1932 almost all the livestock & horses died because of severe weather. When horses were rounded up in the spring, a few straight haired horses & some Curlies were alive. These Curlies were used to breed with other horses and many Curly foals were produced. In 1952 another severe winter storm developed and all the horses died except a Curly colt (Copper D) and four Curly mares. The first Curly stallion used by the Damele's was Copper D. Later, the Curly mares were bred to the Arabian stallion Nevada Red and a Morgan stallion call Ruby Red King. Other breeds used for breeding to Curlies were, Appaloosa, Saddlebred, Quarter horse and Draft. The Damele's continued to breed Curly horses for many years. Most of the Curly horses of today trace back to the Damele Curlies. The Damele's and other breeders bred Curlies to a variety of other breeds because their numbers were very limited. In the 1960's they were bred to the Missouri Foxtrotter and today there are some foxtrotting Curlies. There are approximately 4000 living full registered Curly horses. Today there is also much less out crossing and many breeders prefer to breed Curly to Curly when it is possible. There is also a group of breeders working to preserve the original type of Curly.



A lot of information is available in the book THE CURLY HORSE IN AMERICA: MYTH AND MYSTERY written by Shan Thomas with special assistance from David Gaier & Dr. Ann Bowling. This book was published in 1989 by C.S. Fund, Inc. Some new information can be found today through the internet.

George Pollock and Ole Skjonsberg's grandfather known as "Mr. Johnson" are known to be the first bringing Curly horses in Canada. George Pollock along with his two brothers arrived in southern Saskatchewan in 1883 with curly horses from Nevada. Mr. Johnson brought a curly mare into Alberta in 1902. All of these horses were undoubtedly caught in the wild. 



Obviously, its curly coat in winter makes him stand out. However, the Curly is also robust, very curious, intelligent and docile. Its elegant looks and its learning capacity are astonishing.

They are horses of average size, well built and with excellent feet. All coat color is eligible. They are identified as much in the sports categories of riding (classic and western) as they are categorized as a family horse. You will find them registered under different types: stock horse, sport horse, versatile, pony and draft.

Curlies, like most horses, take their own sweet time growing up and filling out, especially males who only reach their full size around 6 or 7 years old.

The winter coat of the Curly horse has curls in the form of tight ringlets to a marcel type wave. The hair is generally soft and is hypoallergenic. Most people allergic to horses are not allergic to the Curly. The curly hair has been tested and has been found to resemble mohair. The hair can be spun into yarn.

The Curly horse is quite hardy and has the ability to withstand colder temperatures than many other breeds. Hardy and frugal, the Curly is particularly well suited to rough Quebec winters which he spends outside, as long as he has shelter to protect himself against the wind and rain. They possess strong round hooves. The bone thickness is also greater in the Curly than other breeds of horses. Their cannon bone is round rather than flat. The eyes of the Curly are spaced wide apart so they have good rear vision. The eyes have a sleepy look to them and are hooded. The nostrils are crescent shaped, not flaring. They usually have a small mouth.

With their thick and curly winter coat and other wonderful characteristics of this breed, you can't help but fall for the charms of these captivating rascals!

A somewhat strange and distinctive characteristic of Curlies is that some of them can completely lose their mane and sometimes their tail at the time of their spring shedding these are called "extreme" Curlies. Others only lose part of their mane and tail. Many shed like ordinary horses. Our stallions Chimo and Pirate keep their wonderful hair all year long; meanwhile Nanza will shed easily his mane during summertime.

The Curly hair tends to be very fine and silky, quite often very curly, and their mane is double, hair falling on both sides of their neck in lovely ringlets. Their summer coat can be wavy or straight (without curls) while their striking curly coat returns in winter.

Quick and athletic enough for experienced riders, most of them are wonderfully patient, docile and gentle with children, handicapped persons or people who are afraid. But like for any rule, there are exceptions.

One of the best traits of the Curly is their personality. They love people. They are intelligent, quick to learn, willing partners. They have a quiet temperament and do not spook and run, but rather face their fear to get a good look at it. They are curious little clowns at times. Curious, intelligent and playful, Curlies love the company of humans; they are wonderful family horses.

The athletic ability of the Curly has taken him to the dressage ring, endurance rides, cow pony work, driving, Western pleasure, ideal family horse and hunter of Buffalo by the Indians. Curlies seem to excel at many tasks. They have plenty of energy and endurance. They have great movement and style. Ten percent of the Curly horses possess a special additional gait (like Indian Shuffle, Running Walk, Fox Trot..)

Curlies' hair has been examined and tested in labs and has been shown to be very different from ordinary horses: it is finer and rounder (like mohair) which would explain why so many people who are allergic to horses have no negative reaction when they come in contact with Curlies. Their hide also contains fewer proteins that cause allergic reactions and these proteins themselves are different from those produced by other horses. University research is currently underway on this topic.

The North American Curly Horse hands down its physical characteristics to its descendants in 50% of cases when it is crossed with other races that don't have the "curly" gene. Some are homozygous and therefore pass on their curls 100% of the time.



There is a "dominant" and "recessive" gene responsible for giving horses curly hair. The dominant gene is the most prevalent in the registered Curly horses. A double dominant gene Curly will produce curls when bred to another Curly or a straight coated horse. There are also recessive curly haired horses that are the product of a straight haired sire and dam. The Percheron, Missouri Foxtrotter and Paso Fino are a few breeds that have produced "recessive" curly offspring.


Size and specialized conformation

They are horses of average size, well built and with excellent feet. All coat color is eligible. They are identified as much in the sports categories of riding (classic and western) as they are categorized as a family horse. You will find them registered under different types: stock horse, sport horse, versatile, pony and draft.


Native American Curlies

A small number of Curlies were obtained from Native American Eli Bad Warrior. These Curlies were kept by the Native Americans and passed down to their family members. The Native Curlies have a regal presence about them and a keen sense of what is going on around them. They are built heavy and solid with good bone. They tend to be a bit shy around strangers.


Damele Curlies

The Curlies found by the Damele family were bred for many years on their ranch. This line of Curlies has been a great influence on many Curlies of today as most can trace their pedigrees back to the Damele breeding stock.


Cypress Bloodline

In Canada there is also the Cypress bloodline stemming from the horse Cypress Nicker, a half American Quarter Horse and half Curly horse that had Thoroughbred (racing horse) blood. These horses are sometimes very Quarter Horse or very Sport Horse in body type (tall, fast, jumping horses with a lot of racing blood.

Quotes from:


Gaited Curlies

Only about 10% of Curlies today are gaited. A few do a natural running walk. Some Curlies were bred to the Missouri Foxtrotter in the 1960`s, and hence some Curlies now do the foxtrot gait. Some Curlies have also been bred to Tennessee Walkers and do a running walk. Both the foxtrot and running walk are smooth riding gaits with no bounce.



Curlies are generally easy keepers that enjoy the great outdoors. Like all horses though, they need shelter available in climate weather. A barn or three sided shelter works great as a wind break. They should be fed quality grass or mixed hay with fresh water always available. Grain can also be fed but they do not need large amounts. Like all horses they need regular worming, vaccinations and hoof care. Curlies deserve the best of care and thrive under good conditions. Good basic horse care applies to all breeds, even Curlies.



Curlies love to be groomed. Even in their winter curls, it is easy to keep their coats looking good by brushing & of course the Curly will thoroughly enjoy it. In the spring when they start to shed, a brush, shedding blade or comb works great to remove the shedding curls. You can keep the sheded hair and spin it into yarn or find a spinner in your area that maybe interested in exotic fiber.


Remember, if you love horses but suffer from allergies, thanks to the Curly, you will finally be able to cuddle, ride and brush a horse without any allergic reaction or with very little reaction.

Ranch Namaspamoos -

Curls everywhere...

Ranch Namaspamoos -

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Domaine du Ranch Namaspamoos
249, Route 221 Sud, Lacolle, Qc J0J 1J0. Canada. Tel: +1 450-246-4641

Domaine du Ranch Namaspamoos is a member of the following respected organizations: International Curly Horse Organization (ICHO), Curly Sporthorse International (CSI), Cheval Québec.
You will find more info about these on the links page.