Curlies Around the World
Curly coated horses have appeared worldwide, throughout documented history, but their sightings and references have been few and scattered. Perhaps they were occasional mutations of certain types or lineages of horses, as they have been referred to or depicted throughout history among horses of Oriental lineage, most notably the Barb strains & Lp gene carrying breeds of horses.
All horse breed information on this page, is taken from Bonnie L. Hendricks, in her book entitled International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds. Ms. Hendricks notes in her book, referring to modern day Curly Horses found on European continent: "Horses with curly coats are most often found among middle Asian breeds, especially in the Lokai."
The Lokai breed: The Lokai is a saddle breed of horse bred in the country of Tajikistan. They descend from Oriental lineage, primarily through strains of central Asian breeds, such as the Iomud, and to a lesser extent, the Akhal-Teke and Karabair. There was later some Arabian influence.
[It is interesting to note that one of the Akhal-Teke's breed traits is that many have very sparse-haired manes and tails, which is a familiar characteristic of some North American Curly Horses.]
The Lokai as a breed is not uniform in type. The surface hairs of the Lokai, are characteristically curly. There is one strain of Lokai, that is fully curly coated, from ears to hooves, and is inherited from a dominant gene. There are over 100 of these dominant gene curly strain Lokai horses, which trace back to a stallion named Farfor, who was bred to produce this curly strain of Lokai from 1955 to 1970. Each year he produced 15 to 18 foals, the majority of which were curly. "His offspring were characterized by great endurance, resistance to disease, and good adaptation to range living in the mountains... Farfor was used for a long time in the Tadzik national game, buz-kasi... Farfor was heterozygote, and to strengthen the heredity of the curly coat inbreeding was used in certain generations. As a result of many years of careful selection, a group of curly horses was obtained. Horses of this strain are curly from ears to cannons, especially during the spring and summer periods."
[To wonder if the North American Curly Horse may have originated from Lokai bred horses brought over years ago, would be plausible. However, the only time in history that horses were brought to North America from that region, recorded in history, was well after Curly Horses were first documented in North & South America. So the mystery remains, and the conjecture continues.]
Curlies are turning up around the world. Their popularity, due in part to their hypoallergenic qualities, is taking them around the world. You can find breeders and owners easily in Europe. Just visit our member pages. We have also had reports from Australia and South Africa. We do know they were imported into Australia, but have no idea how they came to be in South Africa.
Mitch Wilkinson received an image sent to him by an exchange student who visited Mongolia, it is of a Mongolian horse that is also curly! The horse appears in the image to have characteristics very similar to the early Curly described by the first ranchers involved in breeding North American Curly Horses, short of stature, crescent nostrils, solid bone, and of course curls. Mitch proposed a possible scenario in which the horse came to the Americas via Russia. One theory discussed being around the globe by sail, the other being whether from the horse may have come from Siberia via the Bering Straight (also by boat) to Alaska and then beyond during the Russian expansion of the 1700-1800s. In this discussion, it came up that the Appaloosa is said by the Nez Perce oral tradition to have come from Russians. This could then support a theory that Mongolian horses may also have came with the Russians and were introduced to the Native American populations and/or the wild herds of North America.
In investigating this theory more, Mitch has found an article listed on the website "Equine Kingdom" describing a Mongolian pony, the Adayev Kirghiz. This description actually fits, nearly identically, to the description given by ranchers interviewed for Myth and Mystery of the North American Curly Horse back in 1989, often called the Bashkir and thought to come from Russia. The image, then, and the description of the Mongolian pony, which includes the statement that they often have a curly coat in winter, opens up a possible source for the introduction of the Curly in America, and strangely coordinates the Bashkir myth (that the horses came from Russia) in a unexpected way.
You may visit the description of the Adayev Kirghiz pony at the following link: