By Marioin Huurman-de Roos
Hidden Cave Ranch Curly Horses, KY
Horses that keep you without an itch or a sneeze.
Tucked away in the wooded hills of Kentucky is where the Hidden Cave Ranch is nestled. This is the home of a herd of American Bashkir Curly Horses. For over a decade Jaro and Marion Huurman have been breeding, preserving and promoting this special breed of horses. The 3 active breeding stallions are from different lines and range from 40” to 16H. Both mares and stallions are carefully chosen by character and conformation. The main breeding goal is character, to preserve this unique, sweet demeanor and special horse.
American Bashkir Curly horses are still a rare breed with a mysterious and unknown history. With their unique curly coat, which is mostly hypoallergenic, it is believed to be an ancient breed. The Damele family in Nevada, started breeding with these curly coated horses and kept an article of a Bashkir horse from Russia with a curly coat. After a long hard winter in 1932, the Dameles gathered up their ranch horses. Only to find out that all the horses had been perished. All they could find where horses with curly coats. They helped determent the name American Bashkir Curly Horse. Now it is up for discussion since it might have been the Lokai horses, also from Russia that are actually “the” Curly Horses, but the name was already established. But how did these horses end up in the US? Did they came across the Bering Strait land bridge during the last ice age? No real evidence, like fossils can proof this theory. Where they imported? Also no real proof like logs or journals that can confirm this.
That’s where the stories of the Native Americans are very valuable. The story goes that in the winter of 1801 the Sioux has stolen some curly horses from the Crow. Many curly coated horses have been traced to Indian reservations in North and South Dakota. Native Americans would call these horses, buffalo horses because of their shaggy coats during shedding. Or horses before the horse, since some believe the Curly horses where in the US before the Spaniards brought their horses over.
Today there are still free roaming curly mustangs. Research is still ongoing about where they are from and is it a breed or is it a gene mutation.
Curly horses can be found in every color and marking. Their eyes are slanted, which appears them to have a larger range of vision to the back. Their hooves are though and almost round. They have stout straight legs, strong hocks and short backs with 5 lumbar vertebrae.
They can have different types of curls, from marcel waves, crushed velvet to micro curls. But straight coated curlies are also common since it is a recessive gene. They will shed their coats in the summer into a silky soft smooth or slightly wavy coat.
Some will also shed their mane and tail. They have curly fetlocks, curly eye lashes and the inside of their ears are curly. The hair of a curly horse is round instead of flat and have different protein. This is why they are hypoallergenic.
However since there are many different types of allergies as well as different types of coats, a person with allergies to horses always should test if there is a reaction. But overall many allergy sufferers do not or hardly react to a curly horse.
Curly horses are known for their calm demeanor. They are curious, friendly and people orientated. They are overall very intelligent and thinkers and seem not to be as “spooky” but rather face the unknown than to run from it. In a dangerous situation they rather kick instead. They have flourished in all kinds of events and are extremely versatile. Curly horses are seen in Western and English riding, jumping, dressage, driving and much more, but most of all they are a great family horse.