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As far as we know our dominant Curlies known today came from several strains and have resulted in the Curly lines known today. The strains are:

Ferel- NV, WY, BLM, (any Curly found in the wild)

Native- Crow & Sioux curlies from Eli Bad Warrior (there are reports of other Curlies found in the reservation areas including Standing Rock and Pine Creek)

Midwest/Eastern- Curly Jim, unknown gaited Curly

What we do not know is if these strains are related. There is also a story about a man named Tom Dixon of Nevada that was a horse breeder and imported many breeds to his ranch to breed with local Mustangs that he used as his broodmares. There is a local verbal story of him importing 3 Curly horses from India that came originly from Russia through the Kyber Pass. It can not be proven with records that this happened, so we may never know if the story is true or a myth. Some of the local people believe this the source of the Damele Curly mustangs found near Eureka, NV. So far no one has been able to prove or disprove this story. So it remains a mystery.

The original strains found in varying places, have since been bred together along with other breeds including the Arab, QH, Morgan, MFT, Appaloosa, Draft, Saddlebred to make up some of the original Curly breeders herds. In Missouri the Missouri Foxtrotter was used most frequently to breed Curly Jim & Walker's Prince T offspring. Today other breeds have also influenced the Curly. Since the beginning Curlies have been bred back to each other and have shaped the Curly horse of today. Most Curlies will have a pedigree that blends the original strains plus other outside breed influence. Some are also breeding to preserve an original strain/line. We also now know through Dr Cothran's DNA work on Curlies that they have a Spanish horse ancestry.

From these original strains, and possibly others, have come our Curly lines of today-
Curly Q~ An original Ferel Curly

Miss Berndt Warrior~ Original Native line Curly

Curly Jim~ Original Midwest/Eastern line, gaited

Variations between the strains/lines

The Ferel Curly varied in height and weight but was always a strong tough athlete. Had good solid bone, some had shorter cresty necks, shorter backs, V chest. Some have longer necks and longer backs depending on originating herd. Very tough hooves. The ferel Curlies will vary in size and conformation depending on the area they live on the range.

The Native Curly is a solidly built horse with ample bone, usually wider chest, straight legs, balance between shoulder, body and rump. Very athletic good strong hooves. Some of these horses are tall.
See Native Curlies at: Native Curlies

The Midwest/Eastern Curly Jim horse was of lighter build, showed a natural soft gait, higher neck attachment and not as cresty. Back was a bit longer with a lighter built rump. Still had ample bone but more refined than the Ferel & Native and had good hooves. This strain seems to keep it's mane & tail and not shed them as the other two.

Frosfire's Shaggles~ Ferel- Rock Springs, WY BLM Curly

Frostfire's Big Mac~ Native- Sioux Curly from original Eli Bad Warrior stock

Walker's Prince T~ Midwest/Eastern/Curly Jim line- out of Curly Jim's daughter Blaze x Walker's Merry Lad (gaited sire)


Canadian Sjkonsberg and Cypress lines
(photo- Cypress Curly Babe)

The Skjonsberg line first came into Alberta with a mare caught at a watering hole (Dakotas) by a fellow (Johnson was his last name) in 1902 or 1903. This Johnson fellow was Ole Skjonsberg's grand father. Ole himself started raising curlies in the 1930's and very few, if any, records were kept. As close as I can find out there were two pockets of curlies in Alberta many years ago that I don't think were necessarily related. One was Skjonsberg's and area, and the other one being somewhere around the Cypress Hills. One old timer remembers seeing curlies working the fields here in Alberta when he was very young. I know there were Curlies in the wild in both Montana and North Dakota many years back. I have trained curlies, caught wild in Montana, in the forties, and owned a curly in the sixties.

Bob Pollock along with two brothers arrived in the Cypress Hills area of Saskatchewan in 1883 from Winnemucca, Nevada with at least one curly horse. This seems to be the start of the Curly influence to the eventual "Cypress" curlies. The curlies that George Naismith raised came from Bob Pollock originally and Ken and Marg Perrin got their breeding stock from George. Ken and Marg were the ones that registered their curlies with the "Cypress" label. by Ron Gale

Native Line- Eli Bad Warrior/Berndt/Hammrick/NTS
(photo- NTS Red Hawk)

The earliest documented Curlies with the Native Americans is in the Winter Count drawing of 1801-02 saying it was the year the Sioux stole Curly horses from the Crow. This event has placed the Sioux at that time in the Standing Rock/Cheyenne River area. Eli Bad Warrior was a Native American that raised Curly horses on the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation. He got his Curlies from his father. Eli sold his Curlies to Slim Berndt who then sold them to Ernie Hammrich. Ernie bred these Curlies and then sold many to the Neidhards (NTS). Ernie kept some Native stock also and bred them to foundation QH calling this line the "Bad Warrior", "Warrior" line in honor of Eli Bad Warrior. There is also evidence of Curlies at Crow Creek and Pine Ridge Sioux Reservations. The Crow Creek Reservation has recently aquired three Native line Curlies. There are also reports of Curlies still on the Cheyenne River Reservation.

Damele Line- Nevada Curlies
(photo- Colonel Austin)
This line of Curly's was first captured from the wild herds in NV by the Damele family. The Dameles crossed the Curlies with other breeds. Their best known other breed stallions were Nevada Red an Arabian and Ruby Red King a Morgan. They also used QH and Saddlebred and draft to cross with their Curlies. Their Curly stallion Copper D was out of a Curly mare and other breed stallion called Tony. The Damele's found the Curlies to be tough and hardy and able to withstand harsh weather conditions so continued breeding them. Most Curlies today carry Damele horses in their pedigree. It was also reported by the Damele's that two horse buyers bought their stock regularly and took them to Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, California and surrounding areas to sell in the earlier days of breeding before 1950. At that time the Dameles had around 300 head of horses including straight haired and Curly horses. In 1950 Copper D was born out of a Curly stallion and a palomino Quarter Horse mare. Copper D was the surviving stallion after the harsh winter of 1952 that killed off most the Damele stock. Only 40 head of mares survived including several Curlies. Copper D became the foundation stallion of the Damele horses today. After 1952 Benny bought a Saddlebred stallion from Idaho and used him to sire horses along with Copper D to build up the herd. The Saddlebred was named Idaho. In 1961 the Damels aquired Nevad Red the Arabian stallion, he was used until 1981 to sire many offspring including Curlies. After that time Ruby Red King, a Morgan was used as a sire.

Joe Mead carried on the breeding of Damele stock and also aquired Ruby Red King.

Wyoming- Rock Springs line
(photo- Frostfire's Shaggles, WY BLM)

There were ferel BLM Curlies found in the Rock Springs area of Wy. These Curlies have been used in some breeding programs but are rarer than the NV Curlies. They are a unique pocket of ferel Curlies that are well built stout horses with wonderful temperments. The Rock Springs Wyoming Curly Mustangs trace back to ranch Curly horse, the Laramie Stud. He was bought by Isaac Newton Brooks between 1942-1945 from a horse trader. The Laramie stud produced Rocket, a Curly and he is the sourse of the Rock Springs Curlies. The horses once belonged to Ike and his newphew John Kappes became a part of the BLM land when they no longer allowed these ranchers to use the range land freely for horse breeding and the cowboys were getting too old do the horse round ups anymore. The remnants of their herd became the BLM Rock Springs mustangs and the Curlies trace back to Rocket and Laramie stud. John Kappes also reported that around 1952-1954 his uncle Ike sold about 9 fillies to a horse buyer who took them east toward Kansas and Iowa. This is evidence that some Curlies from the west did go east in the early 1950's.

Fredell Curly Line
(photo- Thunder's Jewel)
From _The Curly Horse in America; Myth and Mystery_ (C.S. Fund; 1989) pp 43-44...

"A husband and wife team breeding Curly horses in Colorado differ from Mr. Dollison and Mr. Baer by knowing of the existence of other curly horses. Many of their horses are still alive among the curly horses known today. Their names are Francis and Dora Fredell of Boulder, Colorado. "The Fredells were active horse breeders until ill health forced them to stop, and they sold the last eight curly horses to Gloria and Russ Bratcher in Oregon around 1983. Mr. Fredell's history with curly horses goes back to his first curly mare presented to him as a gift from his father. At the time, Mr. Fredell's father bred horses with curly hair and kept up the line until Mr. Fredell was old enough to start up his own operation. "When Mrs. Fredell joined the partnership, Mr. Fredell was already producing a number of curly horses from his stock horses each year. The curly horses were not his only goal, so there were straight haired horses on his place as well. The curly horses at the time were typical stock horses from the old Spanish feral stock--small, quick, rugged and straight faced, and often rather rafter hipped. "Mrs. Fredell's influence turned the breeding program more specifically toward American Quarter Horses. By the time the Fredells sold their last stock, their curly horses were 75 to 90% Quarter Horse according to Mrs. Fredell's calculations. The horses were most often sold at the Ft. Collins Auction and always with their pedigrees intact, so the new owner could register the horse in the American Quarter Horse Association. Mr. and Mrs. Fredell always liked the curly hair on their horses and thought the prohibition against such a characteristic for Quarter Horses was foolish. They did not, however, believe the curly horses were ever anything but descendents of the Spanish horses left to run wild over the last 400 years, so they chose not to register them with the American Bashkir Curly Registry. "Mrs. Fredell described their breeding goal as producing horses with good deep chests and long pasterns to improve the horses' stamina and action. The round rump and Quarter Horse head were other typical features, although they occasionally got one with rafter hips or a slightly dished face. They never bred for size, sticking to the original Quarter Horse standards of 14 to 15 hands. They did breed for speed both on dam and sire sides. The very fast little mare of barrel racing fame also introduced the chestnut pinto coloring among their horses. The other horses were of all colors with reds, sorrels, black, and palomino being common. "A big issue in their breeding program was the horse's attitude toward humans. Mrs. Fredell was most fond of the calm and intelligence of the horses from the Quarter Horse lines of McCue and Oklahoma Star. She didn't feel that the curly horses were any better in their temperament than the straight haired horses, but then, the Fredells were aiming for all of their horses to have good dispositions. Some of the curly colts, she remembers, were difficult to handle because they became a one person horse too soon. "The original black mare showed a thick double mane and this showed up often among their horses. Mrs. Fredell said the sparse mane and tail often cited by other curly horse owners did show up but not more than half a dozen times. "Both Mr. and Mrs. Fredell have fond memories of their horses, curly and straight, and were pleased to hear that there were still so many curly haired horses in existence."

Curly Jim/Walker's Prince T Gaited Curly Line
(photo- Walker's Curly T by Wendy Sauer Smith)

The foundation stallion of many gaited Curlies is Curly Jim. He was a Curly horse out of TN of unknown pedigree, resembled a Missouri Foxtrotter in build and did a foxtrot gait. He arrived in MO around 1956 and trained to ride by Johnny Brooks. Johnny was 16 yrs old and Curly Jim was around 3 yrs old. At one time Curly Jim was also owned by Vern Mc Clellen. Curly Jim was bred to a mare named Bradford mare and foaled the Curly mare Blaze. Blaze was bred to Walker's Merry Lad, registered as a MFT and TWH, but also has a question of being an unknown horse. The offspring of Walker's Merry Lad x Blaze was Walker's Prince T the most widely used gaited Curly in the gaited Curly line. He was bred to many Foxtrotter mares and this has given the Curly many gaited horses. The Curly Jim line is of lighter build than the ferel or Native lines, has a soft gait and keeps it's mane & tail. This is the only line so far that has not shown the extreme shedding pattern for mane and tail.