From  "horse-canada"  -  Nov/Dec 2015

Profile  on  Breeds

cool  cuddly  CURLY  HORSES

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Isabelle Checroune has been breeding North American Curly Horses - formerly called Bashkir Curlies - on her 137-acre Domaine du Ranch Namaspamoos in Lacolle, Quebec, since 2002. We spoke to her about these lovely horses with the unusual coats.

Tell us about North American Curly Horses, and what is so special about them.

The Curly Horse is a rare breed. There are only about 4,000 full registered Curlies in the world. Their exact origin isn't known, but their ancestors may have been brought to North America by the Conquistadores in the 16th century. Curlies are robust, versatile, calm, and intelligent. They're generally easy keepers, with solid hooves that seldom need shoes. The special thing about them is that they're hypo-allergenic, which means they provoke less reaction in people who are allergic to horses. Great news for horse lovers with allergies!

What does the typical Curly Horse look like?

Curlies come in different varieties of coats. A smooth coat looks like a regular horse, but the foal is born with soft hair, almost like Angora wool. There are Curlies with a wavy coat, and very curly Extremes, which have fine, crimped manes, and ringlets in their tails, fetlock feathers, and even in the little hairs in their ears. Extremes sometimes lose their mane and tail during the spring shedding season, but they grow back in the fall. Curlies can be any colour, including chestnut, bay, grey, buckskin, paint, or appaloosa.

In which disciplines do Curly Horses excel?

Thanks to selective breeding, there are many types of Curly Horses now: stock horses for Western riding, sport horses for English riding, gaited horses, draft horses, ponies, and even minis. Depending on the type, Curlies excel in many disciplines: ranch horse, dressage, endurance, jumping, or combined driving, to name a few.

How many horses do you have on the farm?

At the moment we have 18 horses. Our first stallion, Chimo, is retired, but still living with us. Our current stallion is Namaspamoos Helios de Sally - Helios for short - a stunning 16-hand sport-type bay tobiano (paint). The rest are mares and foals.

Do you only breed using your own mares, or can someone send their mare to you for breeding?

Yes, you can send your mare to us for breeding. We'll keep her until it's been confirmed that she's in foal (2-3 weeks). We'll also be offering artificial insemination soon.

I'm always impressed by how calm and friendly your horses are, even the foals. Can you tell us your basic philosophy regarding bringing up youngsters?

We select horses for their calm and kind temperaments. Then we spend a lot of time with our foals, touching them all over, playing with them. We're always patient and gentle with them. We try to make sure they enjoy being with people. Since Curlies are naturally curious and sociable, it's as much a pleasant experience for us as it is for them.

You must have lots of wonderful stories about your horses. Could you share one with us?

Curlies have a great sense of humour! One day I was outside cleaning a water bucket. One of my mares wanted my attention, but I was too busy for her at that moment. So she went to the next water bucket, which was quite far away. She filled her mouth with water, walked all the way back and spit the water out all over me! The way she looked at me, I'm sure she was laughing at me, saying, "I've got your attention now, don't I?"