AMERICAN BASHKIR CURLY
American Bashkir Curly
About the Breed
The American Bashkir Curly dates to 1898 when Peter Damele and his father were riding horseback in the Peter Hanson mountain range in the remote high country of central Nevada, near Austin. There they discovered three horses with tight, curly ringlets covering their entire bodies. Since then, curly horses have been found on the Damele range and many Curlies in the United States can be traced to that herd. The Bashkir Curly gets it name from the ancient Russian breed, the Bashkir, from which the modern Curly was believed to have descended. However, the American horses may have been incorrectly named. Research done by Shan Thomas for the CS Fund and resulting in the report, Myth and Mystery: The Curly Horse in America, indicates that the Russian breed most often found with the curly coat is the Lokai breed, found in the Taijikistan region. Thomas suggests that the name Bashkir was the result of a "Strange As It Seems" cartoon published in the 1930s or 40s which identifies a "horse with a permanent wave" as a Bashkir. The Damele Family found and kept the cartoon, passing along the information to others.The name isn't the only mystery surrounding this breed.
Various theories have been proposed to explain the presence of the Curly horse in North America. Some have suggested that they came across the Bering Strait land bridge during the last ice age, but no fossil evidence has been found to support that. Others suggest that curly coated horses were imported while the Russians occupied parts of the West Coast of North America. However, Thomas' research shows there was no mention of the importation of horses into North America by Russian settlers in their ship logs. Horses were used on a limited basis during the Russian experimentation with farming during the late 1700s and early 1800s in present day Alaska. Stock breeding was not very successful with most settlements only able to keep a small number of cattle, sheep, pigs and perhaps chickens. In 1817 there were only sixteen horses in Russian America and they were more than likely the hardy Yakut and not the Bashkir or Lokai breeds. It is very unlikely that even this breed of horse could have made the treacherous journey from Alaska to Nevada