Lawrenceburg, Ky., farm owners praise the Curly breed for being hypoallergenic and calm
“We got into Curly horses because they are hypoallergenic,” says Shawn Tucker, Lawrenceburg. After owning the American Curly Horse breed, she says it’s the only breed she would ever want.
Tucker runs the 154-acre Three Feathers Native Curly Horses farm, served by Blue Grass Energy, with husband, Louis, and son, Trevor.
Growing up around horses, she says she always loved them, but resigned herself that she would never have one due to her allergy to horses. But around 2001, she says she was at the Kentucky Horse Park and there was a Curly horse in one of the shows and they mentioned the breed was hypoallergenic. “I couldn’t get over there fast enough,” Tucker says.
The Tuckers purchased two Curly horses in 2004—they got a bonus as one was in foal. They now have 11.
They breed a few Curly horses out of their love of having foals on the farm and their desire to share the breed with others who also have allergies.
Curly horses grow curls all over beginning in late September and become longest in January; by the end of March the curly locks start dropping off. Around the end of September, Tucker says the horses start growing hair all over. “Every day you can look at them and they look different. By January is when their coat is fully in, and by the end of March it starts shedding some,” she says.
The curls vary in length and texture. “Curly horses come in a variety of coats, everything from a very light wave to a micro curl where it’s really tightly curled,” Tucker explains. “The curls are essentially their winter coat, although they keep curls in their ears year-round and their manes and tails have twists in them all year.”
Tucker says a lot of people ask her about grooming the horses with all those curls. She says it’s not any different, you just brush them like a normal horse.
Tucker keeps a lot of the locks of curls they shed in hopes of having something made out of it, since she says it can be spun just like wool.
The history of Curly horses
“The breed is kind of a mystery; their history (in America) dates back to the 1800s to Native Americans,” says Tucker.
“The documentation shows that the Sioux and Crow American Indian tribes had Curly horses,” Tucker explains. “The horses were considered sacred and only the chief and medicine men were allowed to touch them.”
Tucker has traced the pedigree on their horses. “Most of our herd are descendants of Sitting Bull’s horses (he was from one of the Sioux tribes). The horses we have are out of the line of Bad Warrior, which traces back to Sitting Bull’s horses.”
After they got the first horses and learned more about their heritage, she says they now name all the horses with American Indian names. There’s MeSesko, Piya, Cica and Cikala for example.
The typical diet of the Curly horse is mostly grass and they do not require anything different than a typical horse breed, she says.
She says Curly horses seem to be a little hardier than other breeds, because they have not been out of the wild herds as long as other breeds. “They were only pulled out of the West in the 1950s. They are very hardy, have good hard bones and are pretty healthy compared to most.”
She notes that a lot of this depends on how well they are cared for. Curly horses live an average horse lifespan, about 25 years.
The Curly horses’ disposition
She says, the curly horses’ character and personality are even more outstanding. “They are extremely calm, friendly, intelligent and willing. They are like big puppy dogs.”
She says the horses are extremely curious and not afraid of things in the field, such as Mylar balloons or tarps that are typically used for training horses.
“They are like, ‘Oh, new toy’ and start playing with it immediately,” says Tucker.
“They are people pleasers, enjoy relationships with humans and being partners with you.”