YR Breed Spotlight: Curly Cuties

The Curly Horse is smart, sweet and has luxurious locks.


There are horses of all different colors and patterns, but did you know that there are even Young Rider Magazine Logohorses with curly hair? Curly Horses have curly coats, manes and tails, and even their eyelashes and whiskers can be curly! Coat curls range from loose waves to a tight, crushed-velvet look.

Curly horse cantering
Curly Horse photo by Lindsayanne at English Wikipedia, CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

These horses look cool, but they also have great personalities. They’re known to be very gentle and like to work hard. They’re generally willing to try anything you want to do

“One thing I love about the breed is its calm nature,” says Sarah Thaut, 13, of Idaho. “Curlies are more curious than spooky. They would rather figure out what the strange thing is rather than run from it.”

Sarah has three Curly Horses, but WK Twizzler (“Twiz”) is her best friend. Together, Sarah and her 12-year-old mare enjoy trail riding, parades and gymkhana. “She is smart, super loyal and tries to do her best for me,” says Sarah of Twiz. “We think of Twiz as our ‘don’t worry, be happy’ horse.”

In 2015, Sarah was named an International Curly Horse Ambassador by the American Bashkir Curly Horse Registry for her work in rescuing and rehabilitating a 2-year-old filly named Karma.

“My mom runs a nationwide rescue named Curly Horse Action Team, or CHAT, that has rescued over 30 Curlies since it was started two years ago.”

There’s a Curly Horse for That

These  range in size and body type, so you can find a horse with a curly coat to suit whatever you want to do.

Kendahl D’Uva, 16, of Washington, rides in western performance, gaming and reining for the equestrian team at her high school. “I’ve gone many miles to compete at the state fair and at my high school equestrian meets,” says Kendahl. “Reining is my favorite.”

Kendahl has four Curlies, but her main competition horse is Rose, a 16-year-old mare. The pair has grown up together since they were both 9 (they’re the same age!).

“We ride very well together,” says Kendahl. “It’s crazy how fast she learns and how carefree she is about everything I do with her.

“I would definitely suggest Curly Horses for any rider, beginner or experienced,” adds Kendahl. “They are so fun to work with and ride. Just make sure you’re willing to brush them in the winter; they tend to get quite hairy!”

Curly horse in a stall
Photo by Jean on flickr/CC BY 2.0

Nothing to Sneeze At

Many people who have had to stay away from horses because of allergies find that they don’t have issues around Curly Horses.

Sarah’s mom was so allergic to horses that by the time she drove Sarah home from riding lessons, she had to take some medicine and then rest. After discovering these horses, Sarah and her mom drove nine hours to meet Twiz.

Fortunately, Sarah reports, her mom had no reaction at all!

Now, Sarah says her mom doesn’t have to avoid horses with average hair. “Because of having Curlies for the last seven years, Mom has built up a tolerance to ‘regular’ horses,” says Sarah. “She may not be able to snuggle them like she can Twiz, but they don’t bother her just by being around them anymore.”

If you’d like to find out more about these breeds, visit these organizations:

International Curly Horse Organization

American Bashkir Curly Horse Registry

Curly Sporthorse International

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2017 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!


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