CONTEMPLATING THE CURLY HORSE

There are many unanswered questions with regard Curly horses…where did they originate, what caused them to have curly hair, why are most curly horses also hypoallergenic…the list goes on and on.

There are theories but so far most of those have been disproved or at least found to be inadequate or only partly plausible.

Dispite the lack of solid understanding about curl in horses there have been a few registries spring up that may be causing the confusion to worsen. Like many registries based upon color or physical attributes rather than genetic bloodlines, these registries seem to start at the middle and work both ways to the end but in so doing they may be leaving out or ignoring vital parts to the puzzle that may in fact solve some of the mysteries.

This coat is a different texture and look than a normal foal coat. It was so dense it felt like cotton and it matted. It was short and thick looking more like a stuffed toy.

Generally speaking these registries spring up when a group of people who already have a preconceived notion as to what the curly horse should be and/or how it should look; get together and form a group. Then they begin to limit and/or restrict who can or cannot belong to that specific group…either rightly or wrongly, by using limited specifications. The trouble is many times these sorts of venues only recognize the type of animal they are familiar with or perhaps the type they prefer…which generally also just happens to be the sort they own!

In the case of the curly horse this attitude may well be excluding the very horses that might answer many questions from their group.

There are curly coated horses in most, if not all, American breeds. That is only logical really when one considers all the breeds developed in America are related on several levels. There were only so many horses and/or types of horses initially brought to this country from which spring all the American breeds.

Rather like a plush carpet only so soft it was difficult to even feel. When he shed his baby coat came off in sheets more like buffalo shed. We call this type of coat "buffalo' coat.

Historically curl in horse coats has been documented as far back as cave man days! Early cave drawing depict horses with curly coats. Ancient art also shows horses with curl in a variety of regions. How would all these horses relate to the curl we see in horses around the globe today?

Here I put forth a theory that seems to have some merit.

While researching for my book, "Of Royal Blood- The Missouri Foxtrotter" I was delving into the archives at the Library of Congress. I was researching old articles and stories in early magazines when I came across one of interest to this subject.


The article was dated to the very early 1800's and had to do with the parentage of Justin Morgan. For decades men had argued about who the sire to Justin Morgan ..aka Figure…was. In this particular article the author made argument against the Canadian stallion being Justins sire and states that "Everyone knows all the Canadians are curly coated with kinky manes and tails". Giving argument that since the Canadians were known to be curly horses certainly one could not have sired Justin because he was straight haired.

 

Each hair was so fine it had to be double magnified to show up on film. Many crimps per inch and when the hair is squeezed it matted together like felt.

That article peeked my curiosity so I researched farther back. This time using ancient archives. There I found a report made by the King of France's emissary during the late 17th century, whereby he had recorded everything in French Canada in detail and included drawings in order to take back a full report of the regional assets and way of life to the King. This was likely in order to fix taxation etc but the detailed report made a claim that in so many words said this:.

All the horses in the region, including many hundreds bred and raised by the Indians have strangely curled coats and kinky manes and tails. This from original stock that were not curled. The lack of husbandry and severity of the climate must be responsible for this strange curly coat.

His report to the King came only a few decades after the first horses had been shipped to Canada. Those first horses were from the regions of Europe that produce the Briton and the forerunners of the Friesian…. Early Percherons and Friesians. Interestingly both those types spring forth with curl on occasion. But the original horses brought to Canada were not noted for being curly. When they all changed to curly coats it was notable and remarked upon.

This tells us that horses that had not been identified as having a curly coat, suddenly produced horses that were curly. Not only one but all of them.

It is my belief the original horses were likely minimally expressed cury horses that came from a far more moderate climate. In those centuries the region known as French Canada was suffering under extreme weather that a few years later lead up to a mini-ice age.

With the horses left out all winter to fend for themselves they likely revived a dormant gene for curl. In so doing, not just one horse but all the various lines of horse reverted to being curly coated.

I also believe those strange kinky manes and tails were a direct expression of the curly gene that we see today and disregard.

Foxvangen's Noble Ambassador

At six months he had shed all his curl . No one looking at him would think he was curly. Though frizzy and bushy his mane and forelock do not appear curly to the naked eye. He tested hypoallergenic.

It is my theory that when the earth suffered an ice age the onset of such global weather was rapid. Scientists today claim ice ages can occur very rapidly and are normally preceded by a global warming....much like we are seeing today! Many animals quickly adapted to the harsh climactic change by growing thicker, denser coats which often times included wave or curl for extra insulation.

Many bovine species developed hair on their snouts like the Musk Ox of today and other animals grew long over coats developed to shed water and to keep the thick, woolly undercoats dry.

It is my belief that during this time horses developed curly coats of one type or another depending upon regional climactic changes and their ability to weather conditions that came upon them suddenly. Animals that could not adjust fast enough simply perished and whole species died out.

Maya

We first saw Maya at one month, shown here. We purchased this filly at 2 months of age. Her tail was very kinky and her mane was softly curled. She had abundant ear hair and some kinky whiskers. Otherwise she appeared like any other foal.

Since at that time horses were rather widely disbursed and since the regions of ice varied in temperature and seasonal changes, specific groups may have evolved differently from one another. For instance some may have developed longer hair than others. Some may have developed hair that stood up on end more to insulate against cold where the need to shed water was not so great. Some may have developed undercoats with longer guard hairs on top where periods of rain, sleet or snow were common. Some may have developed less undercoat or curl where they were at the rim of the ice area and not so needy for insulation.

As the ice receded horses migrated. Some went north with the receding ice as grasses and other forage became available while some migrated south. Those who went south would surely have repressed the genetic mutation for curl in order to vent their bodies in the heat. Those that went north for a time likely evolved to retain the thicker under coats and shaggier hair but may well have lost the curl.


Over millennia as the planet warmed most of these horses would have needed less insulation and therefore would have repressed that gene which produced the curl.

She developed curls in her ears and a rather frizzy look to her mane.

In modern times we are seeing weather changes that are abrupt and rather radical at times. We are seeing more horses in affected regions showing wave or curl to their coats. At this same time we are also for the first time in history, restricting gene pools and selectively breeding along specific bloodlines.

We see curl coming in many breeds of horse all the same. It well may be that by inbreeding to the degree all registries are, the gene responsible for the curl is coming back to the foreground due to a compounding of strength. We see this sort of thing in the sabino color pattern whereby common marked horses breed true for many generations and then suddenly spring forth with a multitude of decidedly sabino patterns. So there is a president for this sort of genetic predisposition.

That may well explain or at least partially explain why it is we are seeing curl showing up in such a broad variety of breeds.

Her mane became very frizzy and then began to twist. We believe it will either curl or wave significantly as she ages. Here you can see what looks like dreadlocks starting to form in her forelock. Note the curls in her ears.

Some curly registries only seem to recognize fully expressed patterns that are easy to recognize visually. For instance horses with distinct curly pattern all over the body that anyone can see.

It would be a very odd gene to only fully express or not exist. In fact I cannot think of any gene that works that way. Genes generally express from very minimal to fully expressed with a broad variance between the two extremes. Whether that is due to other modifiers or restricters is anyone's guess.

Again using sabino as an example. We have sabino horses that test positive for the SB1 form of sabino who only carry minimal markings such as a sock and a star. On the other hand we have many sabinos that express fully and are maximum expressed white horses.

From a distance she looks like any other five month old foal. She tests hypoallergenic.


Between those two extremes there are horses with long stockings and bold face markings, horses with belly spots, horses with white ticking in their coats, horses with fullyl roaned coats due to sabino, horses with patches of white on the body, horses with leg patches, horses with full spotted coats, horses with feathery lacing, horses with crisp Tobiano-like markings, horses with speckles… a host of expressions yet all sabino.

Why, then would we expect curly to express only in a maximum fashion?

There are horses that have slight wave to their hair coat, horses with curls in their ears, horses with curled or kinky whiskers, horses with curly manes, horses with curly leg hair, horses with curly eye lashes, horses with patches of curl or wave, horses with mild waving, horses with seasonal wave, horses with seasonal curl… and yet none of these horses are being accepted as curly unless they come from a bloodline already recognized by these registries as being curly…as if the only curly horses on the planet have already been identified?

Since no one has identified a genetic marker for curl as yet all this is up for conjecture however my theory on this involves a possibility which is logical considering all other genes show variations. My theory also allows there may be a number of different mutations of the gene. That may and likely does affect expression not only of pattern of curl, but possibly the extent to which the horse expresses. For instance I believe there will be a link found between curly or wavy manes and the curly gene.

Again, using sabino as an example, we know there are a number of specific mutations for the gene. To date the only mutation there is a test for is the SB 1 sabino gene. That variant of the gene produces patterns very similar if not identical to other horses that test negative for SB1. The researchers claim there are at least 5 various mutations to sabino and possibly more. SB2 should have a test soon but there is also a variety of sabino seen in Arabians that differs from others, a variation in Thoroughbreds that is different from others, and there is a draft type such as seen in Clydesdales and Shires that looks almost identical to SB1 yet tests negative to that marker.

If we applied that theory to curl it would be easy to understand how some of the varieties and degree of curl shows in horses not currently accepted in registries occur.

Foxvangen's Toy Boy

ToyBoy has dreadlocks for a mane and a very wavy tail but does not appear curly except on very cold or snowy winters. He produces a high number of minimal curly foals.

In my own Missouri Foxtrotters we see a variety of curl. Curl that would not be accepted by any of the curly registries( we have never attempted to register them but have been told by many they would not qualify) yet for want of a different term these horses are curly. It is far easier to say curly than "hair that is not straight".

Most of these horses are born with some form of curl or wave. In particular we see waves that are generally very pronounced but can be quite shallow, along the spine and across the rump of newborns. Some of these foals as their coat grows out become curly as little lambs with silky dense coats that spring to the touch and have tiny curls or ringlets. The texture is so soft it is akin to wool on a lamb and the hair can be woven. Under magnification this hair is exceedingly finer than common horse hair and is on a grade level of fineness equal to Alpaca wool.

On colder, wetter winters these tufts become actual curls as his hair gets longer

In addition, these horses when tested by persons suffering from allergies to horses, find these individuals tolerable and do not suffer reactions from rubbing the hair on their skin.

It has long been accepted that curly horses are hypo or non-allergenic. Most people accept that as a condition specific to curly horses.

That brings a question as to how this could be so and yet these horses are not accepted as curly. Either they are curly horses and hypoallergenic, or being hypoallergenic is not restricted to just curly horses!

These flat curls spread all over his body on snowy cold winters but may be limited to specific areas on milder winters.

What distinguishes some of these horses from the accepted curly horse is that these foals with curly or wavy coats shed to straight hair and never become fully curled again. Many of them will get slight wave along the spine in winter time and nearly all will develop patches of wave or curl on their necks or shoulders in winter. In very cold or snowy winters some will get waves on their legs and more pronounced waves on their backs. But overall they do not get a full, curly coat.

Our senior stallion, Foxvangen's Toy Boy,is the exception to the rule here. He develops full body waves or curl dependent upon the severity of the winter. He also develops much curlier coat if cold weather comes in a snap of cold following a warm spell. On those years he curls all over quite noticeably. He has a dread lock mane and a wavy tail.

Any attempt to brush out his dreadlocks ends in wild frizz!

Our foals that we believe to be curly develop wavy manes. Some are born with curly or kinky manes that remain curly, some are born with curly manes that grow straight and then wave as they mature, some are born with straight manes that wave as they mature.

So far all of these that have been tested prove to be hypoallergenic.

Our mares who are half siblings to the senior stallion never showed curl visibly for many years. One of them produced several very curly foals but she did not show wave or curl herself other than a slight wave to her mane. Her sister showed no wave or curl at all and never produced a curly foal although many were born with very slight wave along the spine and across the rump.

In recent years our weather was radical in that we had a freak severe freeze in May that killed all the leaves on every tree for many miles. This freeze lasted for several weeks causing scientists to study it because they had never experienced anything like it before and therefore did not know what it would do to flora and fauna.

Foxvangen's Ruby Slippers

As a foal, our filly Ruby Slippers was as curly as a lamb. If this is not considered curly, then what term would one place on it?

The following winter we had very warm weather in December but in January we had a sudden ice storm that lasted for weeks and drove temperatures below zero with the wind chill.

During the snap freeze in May all the horses suddenly grew in full winter coats after having already shed their coats for the spring! Surprisingly, several of them who we believed to be straight haired grew that second coat in wavy! EVERY one that grew wavy also has a wavy mane all the time.

During the ice storm in January these same horses grew wavy coats and much thicker coats than normal but that winter some of the other horses also showed wave that had never shown it before.

This winter, 2009, the sister to our senior stallion who has never shown curl in her life…we have owned her for 13 years… has developed waves all down her neck shoulders and back! The sister that has produced fully curled foals has developed a similar coat and her leg hairs are very long and curly this year. The hair on her legs is at least twice as thick and long as normal. We are predicted to have a colder than normal winter with more precipitation than normal.

After shedding foal coat Ruby was never curly like that again. She has very wavy mane and tail however and does get waves in areas on cold winters.

The stallion is all over curled this year . Whether this change in coat is a result of past years odd weather patterns or a precursor to what it to come this winter is yet to be seen.

We had two foals born in the fall. Both were born with waves and have developed very silky, thick coats. One is quite short haired with a curly mane and little wave to his coat but he has what appears to be a plush carpet sort of coat.

Hobbit was curled all over at the age of 1 month.

The other colt was born with more wave and a curly mane. His hair is longer and at first was rather curly but as long as it's getting the curl is pulling out of it. His mane and tail are very curly. I have no doubt they will also test hypoallergenic.

A totally unrelated bloodline is producing waves that lay flat against the body with hair growing in many different directions more like a patchwork quilt. VERY fine hair yet less undercoat. These horses also have wavy manes and wavy leg hair.

On very cold winters Ruby shows a slight wave on her neck and shoulders. The hair is very short and silky one has to look closely to actually see the wave.

The point is that if these are not curly then what does one call them? This is not the result of disease such as Cushings and is not the result of diet. It is certain that climate and weather plays a part in the expression but there is no explaining the lack of straightness to the hair other than to say it is wavy or curly.

A lady by the name of Bunny Revaglia began looking at horse hair under magnification and has noted that all horses have some hairs that curl. This may well support the theory of ice age curl and the repression of that gene. It may also illustrate how it is that curl can spring forth in such a wide variety of breeds.

In her examination of hair from one of our lamb's wool foals she noted there was so much crimp the hair is like a hack saw blade, that the eye only saw the hair as straight. This may illustrate that some of the curliest horses may actually appear straight haired to the naked eye.

Foxvangen's Tonka Toy

This foal was curly from his ears down to his feet and felt like fine lamb's wool. Once he shed his baby curls he never was totally curly again but developed a dreadlock mane and wavy tail and gets areas of wave in winter.

It may be that registries are limiting their umbrella to only horses with specific types of curl and in so doing missing the greatest piece to the puzzle.

Perhaps another registry should be formed that is more open in which the hair itself is considered rather than politics or a narrow plane of acceptance. Grading the hair itself as well as the overall appearance of the individual may help open doors to understanding.

In some circles curly haired horses are seen as defective. Much of this prejudice stems from the fact some Curly horses shed manes and tails making them look rather odd. Some curly horses also have skin problems and balding in patches.

Foxvangen's Titan

This colt was born with hair as fine as silk. It was also very short. If one looks closely, however you can see waves down his legs and rump. He had these up his back and neck as well. This is one of the more minimally expressed ones.

It is my contention that these traits are not a characteristic of curly particularly but may be a gene linked to specific bloodlines that just happen to also be curly. We see horses shed manes and have scant tails in other breeds that are not curly and we see skin problems in other breeds that are not curly.

In my own "curly" Foxtrotters we have none of those issues. Our horses have very full and long manes and tails and so far do not have skin problems or balding. We have owned them all for more than 13 years.

The lighting was poor but you can still see the waves running up his rump and the extremely curly tail.

In an experiment I did with one visiting curly mare that had balding problems, I found by feeding her a diet rich in protein she regrew hair where she had not done so for many years. It would appear these horses with balding/shedding problems may require more protein than average. Perhaps they do not utilize or uptake proteins in a normal fashion.

The fact the mare grew hair where she had not done so for years illustrates to me that there is a function in metabolism that isn't quite normal and has nothing to do with the curl to the coat.

Many of the studies that have been done on the curly coat were flawed in that the data fed the researchers was incorrect. One such theory was that horses stemming from Golden Governor breeding that had him on both the top and the bottom of the pedigree would shed manes.

He had odd wavy patches on his neck and other areas that could not be brushed down flat. When he got wet his hair all kinked up like a new permanent wave.

The flaw to that theory is that the horses given as only having Governor on one line actually also had him on both top and bottom. The person putting forth that data had simply not gone back far enough on the pedigrees and therefore had given the researchers incorrect data from which to base theory.

It is a known fact that Golden Governor produced curly foals. He was owned by Dale Esther who told me this himself. Dale hated curly horses so he shot every one born on his ranch. He claimed some were born curly and others developed curl as they matured. Some as late as three years of age. This is consistent with what we see in our own horses and all our horses trace to Golden Governor.

Titan's mane was a mass of frizzy kinky curls and his ears had tight little curls massed inside.

The next winter his ears were so full of hair we were surprised he could hear! Eventually they developed slight curl that you can just see the beginnings of at the lower edge of the ear.

Golden Governor had a normal mane but that mane was wavy. He did not show curl or Dale would never have owned him but had he had a patch or a very slight wave down the back I doubt it would have been seen or accepted as being curly. Because he did not show full curl many of those in the curly circles felt the curly gene had to be a recessive gene. That would be a flawed assumption however if Governor expressed his curl the way most of our horses do.

Governor produced curly foals from so many of Dale's mares it would be virtually impossible to think each of those mares was actually a recessive curly. They would need to have been if the recessive gene theory were correct!

Golden Governor covered hundreds of mares. In fact Dale told me there were some years he covered over 100 mares in ONE year! He produced curly foals from many, many mares both in Dale's own brood band as well as in outside mares. This rather disproves the theory he was a recessive curly carrier because to be so would mean all those mares had to also be recessive curly carriers!

Golden Rawhide,son of Golden Governor, according to Dale, produced even more curly foals than did Golden Governor.

In my own research I have also linked curl to Merry Boy and his sons. These horses express differently from those stemming from Golden Governor or Golden Rawhide.

Titan's mane and tail look like a bush baby and are frizzy curls all over and he has curls in his ears but no curls on the body. He tests hypoallergenic.

These two lines at least have brought curl to the Missouri Foxtrotter and there may well be more lines not yet identified as well. I believe there are likely many more "curly" carrying horses in the Missouri Foxtrotter breed than anyone realizes. I believe they are so minimally expressed that the average person passes them over without realizing what they are.

The logic behind some of this is that the real curly looking curly horses are still hypoallergenic when they shed their curls in summer. They appear straight haired in summer. The minimally curled horses such as are shown here, have clues to what they are, but those clues are subtle and often overlooked! Yet the horses are testing hypoallergenic all the same.

On normal winters this mare only has patches of wave on her neck and shoulders. It resembles a cow lick but isn't. It cannot be brushed to lay flat and yet in summer her hair is normal.

 

Our "curly" horses seem to be very subject to weather related changes in their coat pattern. On mild winters they may show no curl at all, yet in harsher winters they may curl significantly.

This particular mare never showed full -body curl in all the 14 years we'd owned her until we had a freak severe freeze following a very warm spell. That year she waved all over her body including legs and ears.

This supports the theory regarding ice ages and adaptation to climate. Many curly horses from the north soften or straighten their curl when they move to a warmer climate of the south. What we see in ours is not unlike that except ours do not look like brillo pads or real curly ever.

Many of our horses that appear to have straight hair, will wave or kink up the hair when it gets wet. This wave may last several days after they dry and then straighten out again. Are these clues to being curly?

We believe it is not so much how cold the weather gets but how rapidly there is a drastic weather and temperature change that triggers the development of curl.

We witnessed such a thing two years ago when in May we suddenly were thrust back to temperatures ranging around 0 with chill factors well below zero after mild 75 to 80 degree spring weather. The horses instantly grew new winter coats and many came in curly. Horses that had never shown body curl before suddenly became wavy or curly.

This mare developed waves all over her body after a freak freeze came in May following a very warm and mild spring!

If curly seekers only look for obviously curled horses they may be missing the largest part of the curly population! All the horses shown here have tested hypoallergenic. They each have some form of curl or wave to their body and they all develop wave or curl to the mane and tail.

It can take 3 years or more for the manes to develop waves or curl, and some horses will only get waves in specific areas of their body. Most common seems to be the neck/shoulder area and along the spine.

Some horses tend to have a flat wave while others have a springy curl or wave. Some horses have deep waves and some have shallow waves. Hair texture is nearly always super fine.

We did not go out looking for curly horses particularly. In fact we didn't know we had any until someone showed us our stallion was curly. We simply became interested. None of my family has allergies to horses. We did not set out to breed for curl and we do not advertise our horses as being curly. We had no ax to grind and didn't need to "make" our horses appear curly. We were simply interested in what we were finding.

The bonus came in the fact these horses ARE hypoallergenic. What a great gift if we can help someone allergic to horses enjoy ownership in a horse they can tolerate!

Gambler's Jasmine at age 19

This mare has a very wavy mane and tail. Normally she has a patch of wave on her neck and shoulder in winter which we thought was just a bit odd. We owned her 14 years before we had a severe freak freeze come in May. She suddenly grew a whole new coat and was wavy from ear tip to feet! No one would have guessed. She has tested hypoallergenic.

If there are curly horses being overlooked because they don't look curly all over, what a pity that would be. Many people prefer a sleek look to a horse. If they could have the horse of their dreams and still have the hypoallergenic qualities would that be a bad thing?

Foxvangen's Pharaoh at one year

This colt had a very straight mane as a yearling. There was perhaps just a very slight wave to some of it but when brushed it hung straight as a string.

This next horse came out of one of our mares we didn't think was curly. She has not shown any signs of it in the 13 years we have owned her up until this year, 2009. I'm sure she must have been expressing some way that we simply have overlooked but since we had such a freak freeze a year ago and then last winter had a severe ice storm and extreme weather, we believe it has triggered some of these horses to express more fully. This year we got cold weather sooner than normal and it came as a cold snap folloing a very warm fall. This year the featured horse's dam has waves all down her neck and back!

This particular horse, Foxvangen's Pharaoh, showed no signs of curl for the first three years of his life that we could see. On his third winter he developed waves all down his spine. Shallow waves because even in winter our horses have very short, though extremely dense, coats.

At the age of three, Pharaoh began to develop tight curls in his mane and the long part of the mane got a very distinct wave to it. His tail also began to wave. He developed waves on his neck, shoulders and along the spine. The curly mane hair grew in at the base of his mane both on top and on the bottom. His long mane did not shed so these curls sat more or less on top.

The next spring he began developing curls in his mane almost like he was going to grow a new mane without shedding his first mane. The curls were very tight and kinky. His existing mane began to get some wave to it. His mane is very long and heavy so it may not show the wave as much as it would if it were not quite so long. His tail began to wave also. We found this odd considering the long hair in both mane and tail grew out straight originally!

That winter, he developed waves on his shoulders and neck as well as down his spine. His fetlock hair which is very short began to curl.

Pharaohs waves are very similar to those on Jasmine above yet they are not related except many generations back. Both trace to Golden Governor many times. Neither sheds their mane or tail and both have now been tested hypoallergenic.

The way Pharaoh developed his "curl" is consistent with what Dale Esther had told me about some of the offspring from Golden Governor and Golden Rawhide. He said some were born curly, some became curly at weanling age, and some didn't develop curl until they were 2 or 3 years old!

This experience has taught us that perhaps when looking for hypoallergenic horses or if you will...curly horses... one should be paying more attention to the subtleties rather than the obvious. In so doing it may become easier to get a total picture as to just how curly works.

Clues to curly horses may be as subtle as a curly fetlock. Pharaoh developed curl in his fetlock at age 3.

Because some "curly" horses express so minimally as to be overlooked, some people have gotten the impression the Curly gene is a recessive trait. We do not believe that is so. We say that because ours pass along as a dominant or perhaps a polygene acting as a dominant.

We do not believe there are multiple genes that all cause curly horses. There may well be more than one mutation of the SAME gene, but we do not believe some are recessive and some are dominant.

There is one school of thought that believes those who shed manes are recessive curly horses. We contend that the shedding of manes is likely a separate gene and that may well be recessive on it's own. It may link to the curly gene but we do not believe the two genes are the same. Were that true then all curlies would shed manes and as you can see by this photo ours simply do not.

Foxvangen's Pharaoh at age 4

No one would think this horse is a curly unless they looked at his subtle expression. He has a very long, full mane and tail that he does not shed. In winter he waves on his back, neck and shoulders. He has curl to his fetlock hair and he has curls and waves in his mane. At first glance, however, he simply does not look curly. He has tested hypoallergenic.

It has never been our intent or purpose to produce curly horses. We came by them rather by chance. So far within our herd of 23 horses we have identified at least three variants of pattern and have identified many subtle expressions commonly overlooked by the masses.

We have adopted the habit of photographing all our foals from birth up, specifically looking for subtle clues to curl since we know they may well lose those clues for a time during their development.

This particular foal is the son of Ruby Slippers, above. He was born with distinctive waves up his back and down his hind legs. He mane was curly and his tail was very curled. He developed into a very long coated foal which is unusual for ours. His coat was more like fur than hair and had the feel of fine silk. When he shed he shed straight and will likely not show more than subtle clues to his curly gene at maturity.

This colt was born with the typical wave pattern we see in a large majority of our foals.

So far we have produced curly foals from six separate Missouri Foxtrotter stallions from our mares. Does that mean all the stallions are curly or are all our mares curlies in disguise? We have produced curly foals from Montana's Blue Nugget P. out of a daughter of Jasmine. Nugget traces to Golden Governor and Golden Rawhide.

We have produced curly foals from Dan'Na's Magni, who traces to Golden Governor.

Both these stallions showed extremely subtle hints they might be curlies in disguise. Nugget had curly fetlock hair and very thick, downy hair in his ears. Nugget had a bush baby mane as a youngster that turned wavy as he matured and he had curled fetlock hair. Magni had extremely thick ear hair, curled fetlock hair and wave in his mane.

We produced curly foals from Foxvangen's Braveheart Two. Two had curl to his fetlock hair and he had a patch of wave on his neck/shoulder area. Later in life his owner said he has developed some curl to his extra long mane. He is also the sire of Ruby Slippers, Pharaoh and Solaris!

At 9 months Caledon does not look curly. He has slight wave to his mane and tail. He will likely develop subtle expression like his sire with only patches of light wave as he matures. He has tested hypoallergenic.

We produced curly foals from Foxvangen's Pharaoh. He only produced a few foals before being gelded but all of them showed waves like those above at birth. He is also the sire to Titan seen above on this page.

We produced curl from Foxvangen's Solaris who shows curl even more minimally than his brother Pharaoh and yet he has produced the foal above and two others that are showing curly expression.

We have produced curl from Foxvangen's Toy Boy, the roan stallion shown above. He is sire to Foxvangen's Braveheart Two and grandsire to both Foxvangen's Pharaoh and Foxvangen's Solaris.

What does this tell us? That the gene is passing along in a dominant fashion and that it can express differently in each generation.Foxvangen's Toy Boy produced Foxvangen's Braveheart Two. A horse as subtle as Foxvangen's Braveheart Two, produced an extremely curly foal...Foxvangen's Ruby Slippers and she in turn produced Foxvangen's Caledon. This is passing as a dominant yet some of those horses are so minimally expressed as to be quite overlooked so it becomes a surprise when suddenly a foal is born real curly!

Foxvangen's Solaris, our jr. stallin shows minimal curl in his mane, kinky whiskers, curl in his fetlock hair, and a patch of wave/curl on his shoulder/neck area in winter.

Foxvangen's Solaris is our jr stallion. He is grandson to Toy Boy and half brother to Pharaoh. Solaris is likely our most minimal "curly" horse with very subtle expression. He is just now four years old and has only 4 foals on the ground so far but all of them have come with curl. This does not mean he is homozygous for curl, our numbers are so small as yet we are just likely seeing a disproportionate number so far.

He is presented here in order to illustrate just how subtle a horse can get in it's expression of curl....or at least what we perceive to be curl.

Hobbit had waves all down his back and legs as well as on the forehead at birth. His tail and mane were very curly. His dam is Ribbon who has extremely straight hair when looked at under magnification.

At a month Hobbit's coat had grown long enough to curl. It developed into a lambs wool curly coat which had to come from his sire, minimally expressed Solaris!

Druid had waves similar to Hobbit but he also had long guard hairs over his waves. The guard hairs were mostly straight. We had not seen this sort of foal coat pattern before. He developed into a very short haired baby with the thickest coat we've seen to date...very like Toy Boy gets in winter except not curly.

Sarafina had crimps and waves in patches all over rather than just down the back and rump etc. The waves made an interesting pattern in her upper flank.

Caledon is shown on his own on this page. As they develop each has a unique coat type and are not real similar to one another.

This illustrates that even among closely related horses the hair wave pattern can vary greatly.

The market for curly horses is good and the horses bring good prices. Many people prefer to see sleek horses rather than wooly ones, they are actually looking for the hypoallergenicity to the horse. Therefore if some "curly" horses appear smooth coated rather than woolly they would fill a need in the allergic community for horses that can be tolerated.

Perhaps this quality is feared by those breeding the woolly type, but clearly there is a market for both types. The important thing is to understand there is a broad range of expression in curly just as there is in any other gene. The key to understanding is to learn to detect those with the most minimal of expression.

One must accept that either curly coats have nothing to do with being hypoallergenic....or.... curly coated horses may be extremely minimally expressed. Because those who to the average eye look straight coated still test as hypoallergenic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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