Corro Stories

American Bashkir Curly Horses: What You Need To Know About This Beautiful Breed

By Sue Davis


Calling all horse lovers who are allergic to horses—there’s a breed for you! The American Bashkir Curly horse is a truly unique and special breed. Getting their name for their curly coats, this breed is one of the only horse breeds that are HYPO-ALLERGENIC. Their talent makes them great mounts for trail riding, ranch work, eventing, dressage, hunter, jumper, Western pleasure, combined driving, and many other disciplines and jobs. They come in all colors and sizes, but consistently seem to exhibit their hardy natures, excellent feet, and friendly, intelligent dispositions. In fact, their calm, inquisitive, and intelligent disposition makes for great partners for new or young riders.

The American Bashkir Curly horse excels in many disciplines, including dressage.

The Origin of The Curly Horse

While the origins of the Curly Horse remain a mystery, it is now known that they are not related to the curly coated horse in the Bashkir region of Russia, as originally assumed. The American Bashkir Curly horses were found running with the Mustang herds of north central Nevada and South Dakota. Known to the Sioux and Crow Native Americans since the 1800s, they were domesticated in our culture in the 40’s and 50’s by the Damele family of Dry Creek Ranch in Nevada. The Damele’s noted that even in very difficult winters they were able to remain hardy. They rounded up a few and crossed them with their Morgan and Arab stallions, along with a Curly stallion they bred to their mares. As time progressed, they were crossed with the Fox Trotter as it was noted that some had a natural single foot gait.

Today, you can find Curly horses throughout the world including the U.S., Canada, Europe and South America.

What Makes Curly Horses Unique

This special breed of horses has been found to be gentle, intelligent, hardy and easy to train. The breed possesses great bones and unusually hard round hooves. Their unique, curly coats are the result of a dominant gene that expresses a curly coat even if the horse is heterozygous for the curly gene.

Also, as mentioned before, Curly horses are hypo-allergenic, which is unlike any other horse breed. Research has shown that this is a result of a protein missing in their skin, so that most times, even straight-haired prodigy of curly haired parents exhibit hypo-allergenic traits! So, if you have an allergic horse lover, this breed makes it possible for them to be around and own horses with ease!

Curly horses have a protein missing in their skin, which causes them to be hypo-allergenic.

Protecting The Curly Horse Breed

The American Bashkir Curly Registry was established in Ely, Nevada in 1971, with just 21 horses, in order to protect and preserve this special breed. Currently, the Registry is located in Kentucky and now have over 4,000 horses registered. They allow for registration in multiple divisions which include full blooded Curly, outcross Curly, Mustang Curly and Curly coated horse of unknown parentage.

This year (2020) the Curly Horse Advocacy, a non-profit 501c3 organization was established to help promote education, research and rescue for the Curly Horse. Joan Olson is the president of the Registry and also works to promote the Curly Horse Advocacy. She is the owner of High Desert Equine, LLC, the largest breeder of American Bashkir Curly Horses in the Western States. She is always happy to answer any questions you might have about the Curly Horse, or give a tour of her facility to those interested in meeting a Curly Horse in person! You can find her at or email her at

Joan Olson, President of the Curly Horse Advocacy, with her Curlies.

About Sue Davis

My Love for the Curly Horse began as a curiosity when I read an article in “Horse Illustrated” in the mid-90’s about an unusual Curly haired breed that was hypo-allergenic. I decided then and there that I had to have one!!

About a year and a half later, driving through a small town in MO on a road trip, I found an ad in the local “Thrifty Nickel” about a dispersal sale of a Curly Horse herd.  Shortly thereafter, I came home with five!

Now, almost 25 years later, that love affair continues! In the early 2000’s I met Joan Olson, another Curly horse lover from Wisconsin. Our friendship developed along with our mission to breed the Curly horse and educate horse lovers everywhere about their wonderful attributes.

In 2009, I left my little Curly Farm in Illinois and moved to Nevada to help Joan with her rather larger herd of Curlies! Today, High Desert Equine in Reno, Nevada boasts one of the largest herds in the Western region. We are still breeding, training, promoting, showing and loving the American Bashkir Curly!

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