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Curly Horse Facts

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What is your favorite horse breed? If I asked you to list your top five favorite horse breeds, I bet curly horses would be in there somewhere. If you love curly horses like me, you no doubt would like some interesting facts about curly horses.

Curly Horse, Horse width curly coat

Below, I’ve listed seven awesome facts about curly horses for you to enjoy.

1. Curly horse coats have different expressions.

Not all curly horses are completely covered in curly hair. According to the expression of their gene (which gives them their curly hair), curly horses can be classified as:

  • Minimally Expressed: These horses have curly hair in their fetlocks (a joint at the lower region of their legs) and inside their ears. They also have a kinky tail and mane.
  • Maximally Expressed: These horses have their coat fully covered with curly hair. Their mane is dreadlocked and they have curly eyelashes and guard hairs.
  • Extremely Expressed: Just like the maximal expression, the “extremely expression” is fully covered with curly hair. Extreme curly horses can be identified by a tightly packed curly hair coat. These horses may have no mane or tail hair. Typically, these individuals are homozygous for the curly gene which also means 100% of their offspring will be curly!

Since they have different coat expressions, it is wrong to say that all curly horses are covered with curly hair. The best way to identify a curly horse (i.e. if it does not have a mane) is to check for curly hair inside its ears.

2. They can completely shed their curly hair.

Imagine a lion without its mane, a peacock without beautiful feathers, or a tiger without its stripes. Some curly horse owners may find it unattractive when curly horses shed the curly hair off their coat. Don’t worry, not all curly horses shed their hair.

Portrait of a beautiful curly brown horse in winter. Snowy weather.

During the heat of summer, most curly horses completely shed their curly hair so that they do not overheat. There may be some ripples or other evidence but, sometimes you can’t tell if a horse is curly during summer unless you have a trained eye.

During winter though, is when horses with the curly gene really shine. Their long hair coats start to curl up at the ends, making it very clear they are curly.

3. Curly horses are hypoallergenic.

A hypoallergenic organism is any organism that rarely causes allergies. Considering the curly hair of curly horses, you may think that people who are allergic to horses should stay away from curly horses. This is not true.

Curly horses, unlike other horses (which may cause allergies), do not typically cause any allergic reaction.

According to an unpublished research, curly horses lack a protein (which may be responsible for allergic reactions) in their coat (source). With the absence of the “allergic” protein, people who suffer from allergies are safe with curly horses.

Many people claim that a curly horse is the only horse breed that is hypoallergenic.

Note: Even though it is generally accepted that curly horses do not cause an allergic reaction, you should still be careful around curly horses if you have allergies.

4. Curly horses are sacred to the Sioux tribe.

The Sioux tribe is a Native American Tribe who were the first people in North America. In the past, ordinary Sioux people could not own curly horses. According to the custom of the Sioux, only doctors and chiefs were permitted to own curly horses which they called Buffalo Ponies.

Can you believe that your favorite horse breed which is common today was once held in such high esteem?

5. Curly horses come in almost every coat color.

The most common color of a curly horse coat is chestnut. Other curly horse coat colors are black, bay, white, and grey.

Curly horses can also have appaloosa markings and pinto patterns. This special breed of horses also has diluted colors like roan, grulla, buckskin, and cremmelo.

6. Curly horses have an uncertain history.

Beautiful stallion American Curly breed on the background of mountains

It is a fact that all present-day curly horses are descendants of a wild horse and that this breed was first documented in Nevada in the early 20th century. But the ancestry of curly horses is still being debated.

The American Bashkir Curly Horse Registry (ABCR) believes that the Bashkir horse breed (which also has a curly coat) is the ancestor of our present-day curly horses.

Members of the Concours de Saut International (CSI) and International Curly Horse Organization (ICHO) disagree with ABCR, claiming that curly horses do not originate from the Bashkir horse breed.

The debate between the American Bashkir Horse Registry (ABCR) and members of the organizations give curly horses separate names.

ABCR members refer to curly horses as “Bashkir Curly” while CSI and ICHO members call the breed “North American Curly.”

A study conducted in 1990 indicated that the Bashkir horse breed is an unlikely ancestor of present-day curly horses (source).

7. Curly horses have a double mane.

What does it mean for a horse to have a double mane? How can a horse have a double mane if it only has one neck? All this means is that curly horses have a mane that falls towards both sides (i.e. left and right) of the neck.

With so many dreadlock hairs on its mane, a curly horse easily forms a double mane.


Curly horses are very interesting and diverse. They have different coat expressions, they are hypoallergenic, and a sacred horse breed. Hopefully you have learned something interesting you didn’t know before.

What do you love about curly horses? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.