Extreme Trait Curlies
The North American Curly Horse Extreme trait Curly Horses photo illustrations and discussion of traits
Some Curly Horses just seem to have more extreme traits than the general population. While other foals seem very curly - these foals seem twice as curly. While other Curly Horses will shed some mane and tail hair in varying degrees, these extreme trait Curly Horses shed out a lot - some nearly all - of their manes and tails. While Curly Horses in general are known for being calm and sensible; the extreme trait Curly Horses are so kind, sweet, loving and calm, they are actually amazing to be around. Owners claim extreme curlies also usually have wonderful extended movement.
As they mature, many extreme Curlies lose the intensely curly body coats and their coats become frazzled or furry looking, like an over-processed perm. During summer, but more surprisingly, even during winter, their body coat is no longer as obviously curly as typical Curly Horses. The hair inside their ears however, remains tightly curled year around, and their eyelashes usually curl almost into a circle.
There are lots of pet names for extreme Curly Horses. Stringtails, scruffy-tails, scanty-tails, short-tails, skimpy-tails, etc.
There are some extreme Curly Horses who do retain their very curly body coat throughout life, which, like all Curly Horses, is most evident in the winter. *Mei-Mei, pictured, shows the very curly winter coat looked for in any Curly Horse, as well as her strong boned constitution. She also exhibits the extreme Curly's extra-sweet, reliable temperament. Also being hypoallergenic, extreme Curlies with their unusually mild and reliable temperament make them the most successful children & therapy horses available.
Extreme trait Curly Horses are usually the product of 2 dominant gene curly parents, of western bloodlines. In these bloodlines the extreme curly horse is possibly indicative of curl homozygosity. They are not expected to produce any smooth coated foals when bred to straight haired horses. Also when (cross) bred with straight haired horses, both curls and well haired manes and tails are expected, resulting in a fairly reliable, typical (fuller mane & tail), curly foal crop.
Many Curly Horses, especially extreme Curlies, seem to go through a temporary unattractive growth stage as yearlings & two-year-olds. But they do grow out of these homely stages, and like any well bred Curly, continue to develop into excellent quality hypoallergenic horses with extra kind dispositions. Many Curly Horse breeders consider an extreme trait Curly Horse to be very valuable, and unlikely to produce smooth coat foals. So far, statistics indicate they are likely to be homozygous for curls. However, not every homozygous Curly Horse is an extreme curly, so the connection is still unproven.
In blood studies done by ICHO Director of Research, Andrea Schaap, DVM, it was found that the thyroid levels of the extreme trait Curly Horses tested, were well within the normal range. Their fertility is also normal. This would discount any concern that these horses might shed mane & tail hair due to low thyroid levels.
Recessive Curly Horses produced in most breeds typically have normal length manes & tails and are not usually "extreme" Curly Horses. The exception seems to be the Missouri Foxtrotters. It is common for the occasional recessive Curly Horse produced by Missouri Foxtrotters to be extreme trait Curlies. Recessive Curly Missouri Foxtrotters are also reported to usually mature smaller in size than their straight haired counterparts. They are also known to be hypoallergenic.
Curly Horses of eastern bloodlines, when homozygous for dominant gene curl, are not extreme trait curlies as a rule, and have typical manes & tails. The eastern bloodlines are usually descended from Missouri Fox Trotter and/or Tennessee Walking Horse bloodlines.
The recessive curly horses produced by eastern bloodlines, are often extreme trait curly horses.
SOME extreme Curly Horses occasionally shed some areas of their body coats in spring & summer to the point of having some patchy baldness for a while. These Curly Horses are referred to as "Baldies." They are quite rare. On this website, "Baldies" are not what we are referring to, when we talk about extreme trait Curly Horses. What causes "Baldies" (and their connection to the dominant curly hair gene) is still undetermined.
Overview of the extreme trait Curly Horse
Most North American Curly Horse breeders run across the occasional extreme trait Curly Horse. This phenomenon appears similar to the "Rat-Tail" Appaloosas, but apparently are NOT the same thing.
Explanations for extreme trait Curly Horses, with thin haired manes and tails, and attitudes toward it, vary between breeders and owners. Like most traits, it's all a matter of taste and perception. The ICHO has no opinion as to the greater or lesser value of an extreme trait Curly Horse. Our mission is to continue to study the extreme trait Curly Horses, and find out why they exist, and what, if anything, makes them different from other Curly Horses, genetically. We want to find out if an extreme trait Curly Horse is homozygous, and if they have any other important genetic information. We want to find out if this trait is genetically linked to the gene for the dominant curl, or to the recessive curl, or if it is linked to the gene(s) for curliness at all. We want to find out if it exists in all or only some Curly bloodlines. These questions and more, will be answered hopefully, in research to come. To do your part, please be sure to complete and submit the research survey with every horse you register with ICHO. As we compile this information over time, it may shed some light on what is going on with the genetics of both standard and extreme trait Curly Horses.
in confusion & conclusion...
All the information we have gathered so far about extreme trait Curly Horses, is evolving and still in the process of collection. Every time we think we have come up with a true statement to make about the Curly Horse, when trying to categorize something about them, there is a curly horse to come along & break the latest "rule." There is not enough consistency in any Curly Horse types, to determine what role the dominant curly gene may or may not play in creating the wide variety of expressions that exist in today's Curly Horses.