When asked to describe a horse, most people would mention the animal’s smooth, silky coat and long, flowing mane.
They’re probably not going to tell that when the weather turns chilly, the horse’s entire body — even the insides of his ears — may develop bouncy curls.
Until they meet a North American curly horse, that is.
This old horse is born with a coat that looks like the luscious hair of a Labradoodle. These horses’ coats may vary dramatically, much like the pup’s, and they’re also hypoallergenic.
“The coat is curly just in the winter,” Betsy Lirakis, who runs a therapeutic riding program in which only curly horses are used, told The Dodo, “shedding out gorgeous and sleek for summer.” Some of the breed’s members have long, smooth curls, while others have tight, woolly curls.”
“Some have silky Marcel Wave coats, while others are born with plain smooth coats that seem like any other breed of horse,” Lirakis explained. “However, the’smooth’ coated curlies remain allergy-free.”
It’s still a mystery how these horses gained their distinctive appearance.
Horses with curls have been featured in Chinese art since 161 A.D. In the 1800s, a photograph of a curly-coated Bashkir horse from Russia circulated, and proof of these unique animals has been discovered in Europe as well. However, it is unknown if these horses were the forerunners of the American curly horse.
There is evidence that these horses roamed free in the Northern Plains more than 200 years ago, and that the Crow and Sioux people revered them.
But these horses aren’t only good-looking; they also have winning personalities.
These clever horses, according to Lirakis, are rapid learners and can work effectively with humans of different levels of expertise.
“In general, the North American curly horse is easy to care for and maintain. Lirakis described it as “tough, powerful, and athletic.” “The curly is a sensitive and calm creature.”