About Curlies

A brief history of Curly Horses

The Damele Horses:

Curly horses are a very rare breed that were discovered around 1900 in wild Mustang herds in Eastern Nevada. The Sioux and Crow are said to have bred Curlies since about 1800, but it is not known if these horses are the same breed as Curly horses of today. There exist ancient drawings of Curly horses over the world, but again it is unknown if they were related to today's North American Curly horse, which in general has a dominant gene responsible for curled body, mane and tail hair. The Damele family of Nevada were the first to capture and regularly use Curly horses for ranch work in the 1930's. After a very hard winter in 1951/52, the Damele's general herd of horses was wiped out, but a few Curly horses survived. Since so few examples of this rare breed survived, the Dameles crossed the intelligent, robust Curly horses with a working Arabian stallion, Nevada Red, and later with the Morgan stallion, Ruby Red King. From these crosses, the Dameles discovered that often the curly coat was produced in the offspring. It was then clear to the ranchers that the Curly Gene (in this case) was dominant. Other characteristics of the Curly horse were also attractive; strong cannon bone and hooves, a quiet temperment, intelligence, people oriented personalities, fast learning skills, a robust body and excellent stamina. The Damele bloodlines often have a sleek Morab (Morgan x Arabian) body type and elegant movement.


The Fredell Horses:

The Damele family were not the only Curly horse breeders. Also other ranchers crossbred the curly horses and today there exist different styles of Curlies. One family is well known, the Fredell family out of Boulder, Colorado. Francis Fredell received his first Curly horse from his father as a gift. His father bred Curly horses, and when Francis was old enough he started his own Curly breeding program. Up to this point, these Curly horses were similar to the wild spanish Mustangs in body type: small, fast, robust. But, as Francis' wife Dora began to involve herself in breeding, she changed the direction toward the American Quarter Horse. By 1983, most of the Fredell Curly horses were between 75% and 90% Quarter Horse blood, although they were still Curlies. The main bloodlines of these horses are Mc Cue and Oklahoma Star.

The Bad Warrior/Berndt/Hammrich Horses:

Ernest Hammrich out of South Dakota was another breeder with an interest in Foundation style American Quarter Horses and Curly horses. He was a 50 year member of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and also sold horses to the United States Calvary, the Police Departments of New York and Chicago, and to the United States Forresty Service. Mr. Hammrich also had an herd of Curly horses stemming from an ancient bloodline, namely the Bad Warrior bloodline which he collected and preserved. These Curly horses were originally bred by the Sioux Indians before they were stolen by the Crow in 1801. The Sioux family of Eli Bad Warrior, a neighbor of of Mr. Hammrich, had the last of this rare type of Curly horse, as did Slim Berndt, who also had a few examples. Mr. Hammrich gather these horses into his breeding program. With his death he handed over much of his herd to the breeder, Donna Vickery in Montana.

The Candian Curly Horses:

Curly horses were first brought to Canada by Ole Skonskberg. The story goes that he caught his first Curly horse by a waterhole and that it belonged to Indians. The pedigree of the Candian Curly horses often includes a mixture of Skonskberg and Damele bloodlines. 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).
The Cypress mares in Canada

Curly Jim Line (fox trotter line or Walker's Prince T line)

In the mid nineteen-fifties a foxtrotting chestnut Curly stallion, named "Curly Jim," started to breed mares in the Ozarks (low mountain range covering southern Missouri, western Arkansas, and eastern Oklahoma), right in the heart of where the Missouri Fox Trotting horse developed. Thus most of his mates were fox trotting mares, and some of his descenants are registered MFTHBA. Several of his daughters were also registered as ABC foundation mares. His daughter, *Blaze ABC 135, produced in turn *Walker's Prince T ABC 90, which to date is the most prominent sire within his bloodline. Curlies from this blood line are excellent saddle horses, sport good refined conformations, smooth soft gaits, even temperments and plenty of mane and tail which seem to shed much less than in the other curly blood lines.

Subcatagories: Gaited, Dressage and Draft Curly Horses

Gaited Curly Horses are Curlies with special movements such as the Foxtrot, Fast Walk, and Indian Shuffle. Dressage Curly Horses often come from the Damele line and have Arabian and Morgan blood in their pedigrees, most often from the founder of the dressage line, *Spartacus. There are also large working drafts as well as Mini ponies. All these different types of curlies have something in common, they are often hypoallergenic for allergy suffeers.

Information courtesy of www.curlies-austria.com

Karen & Erwin Zierler