My Hair is Stick Straight so Of Course I’m Drawn to the Curlies…

I have a donkey named Norma.  She is very special for many reasons, but one reason in particular is her very curly winter coat.  Actually, I had no idea her coat was special until several people commented on her unusually curly coat.  At first, upon hearing this about Norma, I didn’t take heed since most visitors here have never really seen a donkey up close.   I figured that maybe they just hadn’t seen a donkey before.  But then, I had to look at my own logic.  How many donkeys have I seen up close?  Not many.  And when I started to take note of neighboring donkeys, I did have to agree that they all looked very dissimilar to Norma.

Finally, a very close friend of mine commented on Norma’s ringlets.  “Does she have Cushings?”  This was a good question because Norma is rather stout.  In fact, my farrier calls her “Enorma”.  Anyway, she doesn’t have Cushings.  So I asked, “Why?” My friend, who raises mules and has several donkeys said, “Never in all of my years with donkeys have I ever seen a curly coat.”  I looked at Norma with her very long and curly lashes and tried to cover her largess ears.  I told her that she was very special not only because she was the only donkey on the premises, but now because she was the only donkey with a curly coat…  Great.  I don’t think she was impressed.  Poor girl.  She does feel singled out.

So, I went on a quest to find any other curly coated donkeys so I could show Norma that she isn’t alone. Maybe we could go to some group sessions or singalongs or something…  As I was on the internet searching for salvation, I didn’t find a single other curly coated donkey.  Amazing!  But, I did come upon a Bonanza in the North American Curly Horse, formally known as (and still known as) the Bashkir Curly.

Now, I have told myself that this blog would not delve into breeds.  As we all know, our particular breed is the best… or at least generally, we all have spoken or unspoken preferences.  And, because I know this, I don’t even want to get into it with all of you.  I figure it would be like bringing up religion, sex, politics or Junior’s lack of a job at Christmas dinner.  You know what I mean…

But, now that we are talking about it, in my humble opinion, there have to be many equine breeds to fit with the diversity of horse people.  “Like Owner, Like Horse” they say.  As long as every breed association sticks within their groups, we’ll all get along.  OK, well, I don’t really mean that but I do feel that certain breeds of people ride certain breeds of horses… OOOOPS, I just did it again!  I don’t really mean it that way because I have several breeds and I ride with lots of different people who have several breeds.  To me, all horses are individuals so it isn’t the breed (except in the case of Zorses…).  Sorry, see, I did it again!  That is exactly why I don’t talk about particular breeds.

So, today, in honor or Norma, I’d like to talk about a particular breed.  :)


American Curlies.  Or, North American Curly Horses  or American Bashkir Curly Horses or American Curly Horses or Curly Horses… I love that they are just as conflicted in their relatively new registry as the rest of us!  But, that isn’t why I’m interested in them.  I’m interested in them because of their unique HAIRcoat.  Did you know they were hypoallergenic?

First off, let’s discuss how the American Curly Horse came to be.  Sounds easy but it isn’t.  No one knows for sure and they admit it.  I love that!  One theory was since there had been recorded curly horses in Africa and Spain, they could have come from there.  But there was no proof.  In fact, there is no firm root system or Moses Tablets to confirm or deny any genesis of the American Curly.  Originally, it was thought that these horses were descendants of the Russian Bashkir horse.  That couldn’t be confirmed but the name stuck.  After much discussion among Curly historians, all that is known is that curly coats were reported in wild mustang herds in Nevada in the late 1800’s and Native Americans also caught and trained them.  So, let’s just start there, shall we?

(Olde Tyme Photos:  First is a photo of US Army on a curly in 1906, Second is famous curly stud, Dixie D, next is Benny Damele, last is famous foundations stud, Copper D.)

On the range in Nevada, an Italian rancher (obviously another reason I was drawn to this story since I’m basically an Italian rancherini) named Giovanni Damele set up business in Eureka, Nevada.  Eureka Nevada is described as the loneliest town on the loneliest road in America (I sure hope the land was cheap…).  Funny, that road, Hwy 50 is not far from where I live.  Anyway, “John” noticed the curly coated horses out with the mustang herds in this rocky, desolate and forgotten part of Nevada.

After a particularly nasty winter, John was again very astute to notice that most of the wild herd had died except the curly coated individuals.  Hmmmmm.  This happened the next winter as well — which seems obvious since supposedly there weren’t any sleek coats left from the previous winter.   Being an astute rancher, ol’ John decided to round him up some of them curlia coateda horsesa.  (I can speak Italang since my father was from Sicily off the boat.)  And, gather some of them he did!

You can probably guess what happened from here.  The lore is that John’s horses were the strongest and most sure footed in the valley.  People came from far and wide to buy the offspring.  So, generally, the Damele ranch and especially John and his son Benny are known as the founders of the breed.  From the original few, John out crossed them with a few studs he admired.  One was a Morgan (I love this, of course) named, Ruby Red King.  He also used an Arab stud named, Nevada Red and another stud of unknown breeding named, Copper D.  (All of these studs have color reference names.  I wonder if they were all sorrels?)

So, that is how the American breed came to be.  In fact, the Damele family still has a ranch in Nevada and still raises these horses.  I have the address if you are interested in visitingJust ask me and I will send it to you.  Isn’t it cool that we are still close enough in time that we can actually speak to the family who is widely known as the creator of the breed?!  I would love to speak to Justin Morgan.  Anyway, that is the story.  For you readers who have peaked curiousity about this breed, here are two links.  The first is to a  very informative Curly website.  And sadly but thankfully, here is a link to the Curly rescue group.  Sigh.  As with all breeds of horses these days, the rare Curly horse is also being sent off to slaughter.  (This link has a charming story about a baby Curly just saved from slaughter who needs a forever home.  Is it yours?  Take a look.)

OK, now back to the curly part.  It is known that these horses have a curly coat in the winter. It sheds in the summer.  However, the mane and tail are the clinchers.  Most of the Curlies shed their mane and tail either every spring or every couple of years.  I think ol’ Mother Nature was trying to figure out a way to get rid of those itchy dreds so she just decided to let it all fall out.  Heck, it will grow back.  This is why in some photos, Curlies show either no mane or hardly any mane and often times a short tail.  I also read many articles on tress management.  It is suggested that you trim the mane and tail, if it doesn’t fall out, to keep it from knotting.

Curlies are also supposed to be smaller (14 – 15.1) with wide set ears. They are described as a durable, sturdy, horse with a short back, straight bone, and thick, healthy hooves. In stories written about John Damele’s Curlies, they were often called “very strong”, willing, loving towards people and not cowardly. Curly Horses may have other primitive horse traits like smaller chestnuts or missing ergots (Aren’t ergots and chestnuts the same thing?  I’m feeling igner’t right now).

Here is where it gets interesting…  It seems that Curlies, who are basically a mixed breed, had to form a few registries.  Why?  Well, and this is the plain yet mind boggling part, the purists wanted to keep from outcrossing them.  ??  I totally understand why they wanted this, but, it is perplexing because that is how they came to be in the first place…  But, in 1990, the American Bashkir Curly Registry closed its books to outcrossing.  So, the ICHO (International Curly Horse Organization) began.  They outcross.  Then came the CSI (Curly Sporthorse International) that develop, you guessed it, the Sporting Curly.  Oh, and we cannot leave out the BLM Curly, which are the remnants of the original Curlies from the range (I’m happy to report that there is a group trying to help the Mustangs by valuing the Curlies left on the range.  They are working with the BLM to save them.  Here is a link.)

Gathering photos for this missive was rather interesting.  I could find very few beautiful curly coated photos.  It seems that although this breed is known for its coat, since the coat appears in winter, all bets are off… Or, the owners just wait for that coat to go away so grooming is easier?  I don’t know.  But, I’ll tell you, I couldn’t find one Winter/Summer comparison shot for any of the internet featured Curly horses.  That’s what I wanted.  I wanted to see the Before/After pics like the drama of a major Makeover show!  Couldn’t find one.  Not one!  So, I think the curly part must wear a bit hard on owners.  I’m not sure.  But, there are a lot more pics of the horses shed out than not shed out.

Now that I am a new found Curly expert having delved into this for an entire day… I would have to agree with the purists of the ABCR.  When I look at the breed standard, such that there is a breed standard, it seems that John Damele wanted a strong ranch horse.  That’s it.  Strong.  Ranch.  Horse.  OKOK, don’t get all squinty eyed. I can see why all the other folks want to take this sweet, strong ranch horse and cross it with other stuff to hopefully get the strong, curly and sweet part into whatever else they have in their particular woodpile.  I’m just sayin’…

So in conclusion, for me, Curly blood is kinda like salt or garlic or butter.  It is the stuff that goes into most tasty recipes.  You have the Curly Fresian cross, the Curly Paint cross, the Curly TB cross, the Curly Pony cross… it is endless.  Are they diluting the breed or merely making it better?  Dunno and don’t really want to argue that.  After all, hybrid vigor is a glorious thing.  I know that I always describe the look of my purebred Australian Kelpie, Dexter, as 5 different dogs put together.  You see, a purebred Australian Kelpie is indeed a mix of all the dogs they have there in Australia plus a dash of Dingo thrown in for good measure.  Yup, he’s a purebred Kelpie made up of everything under the sun.  Still, in my opinion, Dex is sound, brilliant and just about the most vigorous dog I’ve ever met.
I think the purebred Curly is like my Dexter.   I think they are probably a very healthy hybrid that has become a purebred.  I like it.  I like it just like I love my purebred, Dex, and my purebred donkey Norma with the remarkable curly hair.  So if you were to give me a choice of what kind of Curly would work for me…

Well, I’d go with Damele’s original idea of a strong, little, willing, moppy-headed wild thing.  Like owner, like horse —  or so the story goes…

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

What Do You Do with All the Horsey Catalogs that You Get?

I don’t know about you, but I get oh, probably 3-4 horse themed catalogs a week.  Heaven help me at Christmastime!  Yeesh!  The poor mailman just mutters as he delivers yet another catalog with the millions of things I can purchase either for my horse, about my horse, with a horse on it or something slightly removed from horsedom but they got my address anyway…

So, what do you do with yours?  I tend to have a stack under my desk.  If I’m going to take a bath, I’ll grab one.  Or, if I’m sitting down to breakfast, I might bring one to the table.  But, mostly, when I want a break from my nightly two paragraphs of the book I’ve been reading (and re-reading) for the last several years, I take a few with me to bed.  For some reason, I can get through a whole catalog whereas a few sentences of my book puts me OUT like a light!  Anyway…

I don’t know about your catalog behavior, but mine goes something like this…  I dog-ear a few pages for my wish list.  Sometimes I circle items if I have a pen.  I poke hubby and show him the various ridiculous items and if I’m really excited, I’ll rip out a page which ends up on the floor or under the bed.  Most of the time, to be honest, I use them for packing material, as fire starters or as huge Santa style bags for recycling.  Still, I do on occasion find items that I really would like… but usually not for their intended use.  For some reason, I always find other ways to use horsey products — which is probably why they keep sending catalogs to me.

Because I figure that you get catalogs, too, I decided to share a catalog with you.  Truly, they aren’t as fun alone, wouldn’t you agree?  If you have someone there with you, you can say, “Hey, have you ever seen this?”  or “Gee, does this look like it could work?” and “Ohhhh, my horse would hate me if I made him wear that… Let’s order it!”

Since I’m alone this evening, I think I’ll share my newest catalog with you.

HORSELOVERZ.COM – Winter Sale Catalog ( Yay!  I love sales!)

First off, I usually hate it when writerz put a clever spin on something so they can purchase a domain name or whatever.  But, I’m going to excuse the cheezy Z application here because they obviously decided to not kick the kids club who owns to the curb.  I kinda commend them on that.  Or, the kids got tough and wouldn’t sell, who knowz…

Anyway, let’s start, shall we?  OK, well, I’d like to start but I need photos and the website for is incredibly, awesomely slooooooow.  In fact, I ended up just scanning the catalog pages because it took so long.  Not such a great start.  And, truth to tell, many of the items in this new catalog were not available or out of stock.  This baffles me.  Do people get their catalog and sprint up to their computers and order everything instantly?  Or, do they just have a warehouse full of onesies of all these items?  But why would a company put out a huge full color catalog when most of it is unavailable?  I’m wondering if the loss leader thing is in effect here.  Dunno.  I found it a bit frustrating. However, not so frustrating that I don’t want to continue shopping with you all!

OK, onto my favorite items for several reasons:

1)  First up is the Animal Print Nylon Horn Bag:  Oh My!   There was a whole section of animal print items.  I find the juxtaposition of African animal prints on a horse quite unsettling but also goofy in a Disney sort of way.  It was so unusual I had to mark it.  I picked the horn bag because I was so delighted to see this.  I mean, these prints are so contrary yet lovely for the purpose.  Do you expect a first aid kit to come outta that?  Not me, I picture ciggys and some JD in there, or at least a Snickers bar…  It made me smile so it was my first circle of the day!

2)  Colored Rubber Bands:  Yay!  How fun are these handy little items!  No more black, I say!  I was so thrilled to see these that I actually tried to order them.  Sold out.  How do you sell out of rubber bands?!   Was it too expensive to order enough?  Do they take up too much space?  C’Mon!  I was totally bummed.  And, this is when I learned that if is sold out, they don’t provide the item photo anymore.  So, this is why I had to scan this picture.  Please excuse my big circle mark but at least you know I’m not kidding when I say that first I circle all the items I want…

3)  Hay/Straw Bale Cutter:  Now, this item is not expensive so I’m not knocking it. It is just that you can go to the Dollar Store and get a packet of 3 utility knives (in assorted colors) for, well, a dollar.  I have one in a pocket of all of my barn coats.  I also have a few scattered about and one in the tack room drawer.  Cheap utility knives are so easy to find, I always wonder who might buy these custom jobbies.  On the other hand, maybe I’m just too cheap to be professional about my hay string cutting…  Sometimes I do end up using wire cutters or a hay hook and then I twist and twist… So, I guess real hay bale cutters are a good idea, especially if you don’t have a Dollar Store.

4)  Pocket Sweat Scraper:  Wouldn’t these make great luggage markers? Look at all the wonderful colors!  You could probably find a Sharpie to add your name and address.  Gawd, I’m starting to talk like my dearly departed father who never threw out anything.  “Heck, that old cottage cheese tub would make a great soup bowl!”  But still, they would make great luggage tags or markers… You could stand with confidence at the luggage roundabout.  No worries here, I KNOW my luggage.  It has the colorful sweat scraper tied to it!

5)  Youth Sweat Scraper:  I use these to clean out my water troughs. They really work and the smaller ones (Youth sized) are the best for trough de-mucking.  See, you can get the regular sized sweat scraper, or you can get the YOUTH sweat scraper since they needed to find another item to sell to us and what is better than something that makes your kids more comfortable.  Anyway, the curved corners of the scraper actually help you scrape away the gunk that sticks to the troughs.  I love these things.  And, you can pick from all these assorted colors!  Such a deal!

6)  Grabber Groomer Two Pack: This shape just killed me.  They all remind me of Lisa Simpson’s hair.  I just had to pick these because every time I looked at them I could hear her voice.  I’m sure if I bought them, every time I used them I’d hear her voice.  After a while it would probably drive me crazy.  But for now, I think the image is very amusing!

7)  Utility Bag:  Wouldn’t this bag be great for your ski boots, hat, gloves and goggles???  Your boots could go in the boot part and your hat, gloves and goggles, which you always drop anyway, could go in the front.  Perfect!!  Or, let’s say you have to change your shoes for work.  You could put your work shoes in here plus your lunch or makeup kit or overnight kit.  I like it!  I wish it came in all the colors of the sweat scrapers, though.

8)  Deluxe Helmet Carrying Bag:  This shape is so interesting to me.  What could I put in here?  A cake?  Yarn?  Marbles?  I just love the shape of this and the sides are soft!  Hmmmm, what could I put into the outside pocket?!  Ahhh, the possibilities are endless!  I guess I could actually get one for its intended use.  After all, I usually put my helmet on the flat, upper bunk part of my trailer tack room (what is the technical name for that space where you would sleep if you were shaped like a short triangle?) where it usually rolls around and falls.  But, that is what helmets are supposed to do — take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.  Bah Humbug to the bag.  I’ll use it for my marble collection!

9)  No Bounce Stirrup Strap:  If this works, I will bend down and kiss the catalog!  I HATE it when my stirrups either knock me in the head as I am adjusting the girth or bang me in my shins as I walk.  I know, I know, just throw them over the saddle, right?  Well, SHORT PEOPLE have very short leathers and they don’t stay over the saddle.  Or, they jab you in the stomach as you carry the saddle.  Since none of my saddles have horns, I have no where to put the darn things.  I’ve even resorted to adding ties to all of my saddles (or quick clips — good idea, actually) to grab my stirrups when I need them UP.  But, this handy device looks very… handy.  ;)   Y’know, now that I look at it, I think I could use it to keep the divider against the wall in my trailer when I’m not using it (instead of the bungie that is there now). I bet if I purchased this I’d say, “Hey, wait a minute, I coulda made this…”.  Whatever.  I think it is a good idea.

10)  Sport Boot Covers with Fringe and Embroidered Designs:  I love these! How Festive!  I think everyone should have a pair!  I don’t even use sport boots and I would buy these for my horses.  Well, I would purchase these but yet again, horseloverz is totally sold out.  How could that be??  There are a bunch of styles here.  They are ALL sold out?  I have never, ever seen these on the trail yet there are none to be found anywhere.  Hmmmmm.  I’m guessing they may be big on the barrel racing or rodeo circuit.  Dunno.  But, I think we should start a trend.  I think designers should come out with new designs.  I think Prada, Chanel, Max Mara, Armani, Dior, Guess and even the bejeweled David Yurman versions.  Yay!!  I’m in!

11)  Chain Action Boots: Uhhhh, don’t I see these on every neck, ankle or wrist of every teenager in the mall?  I cannot look at these and not think Emo.  I would not be able to get the mall image out of my mind if I saw these on my horses.  (Although my young mare Hayley would fit right into the mall, fer sure…)  I’m guessing my other horses would roll their eyes on this one.    Anyway, I think I would love the sound that they make, for a while anyway.  These could be the Goth version of rhythm beads!

12)  Spandex Helmet Cover-Ups:  Usually, anything with Spandex kinda makes me go the other way.  But, these look like they could be a very popular fashion statement for us helmet wearers.  Unfortunately, when I went to the horseloverz website to grab the picture, they only had the drab four colors left:  black, brown, grey and tan.  Ugh.  Bummer.

13)  Magic Pimple Grip Gloves: (Excuse me while I catch my breath, tee hee…)  I love the name!  Am I juvenile or what?!  I want to give these to my teenage daughter but I don’t think she would get the humor.  All kidding aside, any glove that is magic would have to be a best seller!  I would love for my fingers and hands to have the magic touch!  I guess that is why they are, again, sold out of every size and color.

14)  Last but not least, Elastic Pant Clips: Well, I don’t need these for my riding pants because they are already too tight around my ankles.  But, these are GREAT for keeping your sheet corners down.  Do you know what I mean?  They work as little sheet corner garters for your fitted sheets.  You see, we have a lovely memory foam mattress top that reshapes often.  And, for some reason, my corner of the fitted sheet always pops off.  It is so irritating.  I got these to clip the sheet corners down and they work perfectly!

So, thank you for skipping delightfully through the Winter sale catalog with me.  It was fun!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!