Genuine Curly Horse or Imposter?
My heart goes out to the people that contact me unhappy with their
purchases from some horse farms who claim to have Curly Horses.
For years some breeders have been trying to convince the public that
their visibly straight or slightly wavy haired stallions and mares are
actual Curly Horses and will produce the visibly curly foals you see
here. Their efforts sometimes result in the deception of an
unsuspecting buyer. I usually end up hearing their complaints as their
new purchase never develops curl or produces the curly foals they
were seeking. If you are searching for a visibly curly, Curly Horse you
should look for actual visible curls in the ears, fetlocks, mane, body
etc. and particularly in the winter, they will be curly all over! We will
never try to sell someone a straight or even wavy looking horse and
call it the visibly curly type. If you want a genuine visibly curly, Curly
Horse, do your homework. Contact the ICHO and/or the ABC and find
out their current standard definition of a Curly Horse who carries the
dominant curly gene (the one that gives a horse a visibly curly coat for
it's whole life.) Also, make sure your new Curly MFT prospect has a
full mane and tail as all dominant Curly MFT's have full manes and tails.
Know the signs to look for in a recessive vs. dominant curly. On our
"about curlies" page it explains everything.
If you like the look of a smooth coated horse and want it to be from
Curly Horse bloodlines, we often have a variety of that type of Curly
Horse called "Smooth Coat Curlies." These usually have the same
hypo-allergenic qualities as visibly Curly Horses, but years of breeding
them tells us that they do not carry the curly gene that produces
visibly curly horses as they do not produce visibly Curly Horses when
bred to a straight haired mates. One great thing about them is that you
can still have a straight haired horse AND the hypo-allergenic qualities
too if you prefer that. Hope this all makes sense! I know it can be very
confusing. Please contact me if you have more questions.
We are so proud of our herd and confident in the consistency of the
curly foals we produce, we will offer an immediate and full refund if
your curly foal or Curly Horse from us ever turns into a straight or
loses its beautiful curls!!! We feel confident in making that guarantee
because we KNOW it will never happen with our herd!! : )
What is the difference between Dominant
and Recessive Curlies?
There are two different types of curly coated Fox Trotters in the world
that consistently have full curly bodies, manes, etc. and keep these
curls for their entire life from birth to death. These are what most
breeders describe as Dominant or Recessive Curly Fox Trotters.
Recessive Curly Fox Trotters - Ever heard of an unusual
looking curly foal that surprises a breeder when two straight haired
Fox Trotters are bred together? Many breeders have unfortunately
named this odd genetic occurrence the recessive curly gene. It is in
no way genetically related to the dominant curly gene and we
personally believe it is a genetic defect. This gene lays hidden in the
DNA of the best lines of Fox Trotters. Our research shows that Old Fox
and his son, Blankenship Diamond as well as his grandson, Golden
Governor, are carriers of this gene. All the pedigrees of recessive
curlies we have found so far trace back back to Old Fox on both sides
of their pedigree. We avoid any bloodlines who are known or
suspected carriers of the recessive gene.
It takes two recessive genes to make this kind of curls present in
foals. If two straight haired Fox Trotters that carry this gene are bred
together, 25% of the time they will produce one of these foals that
have curls on their bodies, sparse manes and tails, potential serious
health problems etc. For some reason, these "recessive curly" foals
usually shed some or all of their manes and tails in the summer and
may have health problems such as the mouth ulcers in the mare shown
on the left here. They may also be smaller than regular Fox Trotters
and have other negative health issues such as thin hoof walls,
slobbering and body hair that falls off easily. Most people consider
this type of horse to be a genetic mishap and used to cull foals when
born. If you can handle the health problems that many have, we have
heard that this type of horse is a very sweet companion. This
"recessive curly gene" is not the same gene that produces curls on
our horses. They are totally different. This is NOT the kind of Curly
Fox Trotter that we produce and raise. We don't know anyone who
does raise them purposely.
Dominant Curly Fox Trotters - The other type of curly coated
Fox Trotter is the kind we raise here at Zion Gait Curlies. It comes
from a dominant curly gene. This good dominant curly gene has been
producing beautiful and healthy curly horses for hundreds of years
and originate in the wild mustang herds in the Western United States.
These curly horses are produced when at least one curly coated
parent contributes a dominant curly gene to its foal. You must see
curls on the body, mane, tail, ears, fetlocks etc. on at least one of the
parents to produce this type of foal. All dominant curly foals have tons
of beautiful curls that look like a lamb as shown in the photos of Curly
Horses on the left. Dominant Curly Fox Trotters are vigorous and
beautiful horses with long manes and tails year round and heights
range from 14 to 16 hands. They are healthy just like regular Fox
Trotters, but with that beautiful, flashy hypo-allergenic curly coat.
These rare horses come from an unbroken line of Curly Fox Trotters
who were bred to some of the best Fox Trotter's such as Walker's
Merry Lad, Rex's Golden Touch, Danney Joe W. and Mr. President. We
are currently breeding our curly mares and stallion with the best
bloodlines, conformation, gait and temperament in the Fox Trotter
world to produce the best Dominant Curly Fox Trotters in existence!
(Occasionally, some Fox Trotters will have a wavy mane, tail or some
wavy body hair. This may be some other type of curl or wavy gene at
work. These horses are quite different from the ones produced at
Zion's Gait Curlies. Though some may call them curly horses, we do
not as they look totally different from the horses we produce.)
Are Curly Fox Trotters really hypo-allergenic?
Yes, they are! Our two oldest children are seriously allergic to horses.
Every time they would take riding lessons we had to give them
medication and even then they would sneeze, get watery eyes and
have breathing problems. That's when we found and decided to start
raising Curly Fox Trotters. Our allergic children can now ride, groom
and love the curly horses with no allergic reactions. We have had
many people visit our farm from as far away as Sweden and Germany to
see and test our horses for their hypo-allergenic qualities. We are
continually amazed and thrilled to see people's reactions to the fact
that they have NO allergic reaction to our Curly Horses. I have also
talked to many, many people who have had similar experiences.
What colors do Curly Missouri Fox Trotters
Of these 120 or so horses in the world, most have traditionally been
sorrel , sorrel roan and sorrel sabino in color. In recent years, though,
breeders have managed to expand the color palate of the Curly Fox
Trotters to bay, palomino, black and white tobiano, bay and white
tobiano, cremello, blue roan and now buckskin! We intend to add dun
to that list!!
Where does this curly characteristic in the
Fox Trotters come from?
Curly horses have existed in the world for hundreds, possibly
thousands of years. The curly gene in our Fox Trotters traces back to
a gaited curly stallion named Curly Jim. In the 1960's, a select number
of Missouri FoxTrotter mares were bred to this stallion. Thankfully,
these few curly horses were perpetuated by pioneer breeders in Curly
MFT's. There are many theories, but no one is certain of Curly Jim's
ancestry. All Zion's Gait Curlies descend from this dominant curly line.
Their genetics work just like the cream gene in horses. For example, if
a horse carries one cream gene, there is a 50% chance that the foal will
be cream based (palomino or buckskin.) It's the same with our Curlies.
If the horse has one curly gene, it has a 50% chance that the foal will
have curls when bred to a straight haired Fox Trotter.
What is a homozygous Curly Fox Trotter?
Sometimes, the curly sire and curly dam will both give the foal a curly
gene. Then the foal will carry two curly genes and is homozygous for
curls. These foals who are passed on the curly genes from both of
their parents will grow up and ALWAYS produce curly foals, even when
bred to a straight horse, because genetically speaking, they have to
pass on at least one of those curly genes. Homozygous curlies are
extremely rare and are highly prized by breeders because they can
guarantee curls for every foal.
Currently, there are no scientific tests to prove whether a horse is
homozygous for curls. There are, however, distinguishing physical
characteristics, which make it fairly easy to predict whether a horse is
likely homozygous. Many breeders use the term "microcurl" to
describe the texture of the coat of these horses. Out of all of the
Curlies with the trademark characteristics of being homozygous, none
have ever thrown a straight haired foal when bred to straight or curly
horses. There are only about 8-9 of these horses with Curly Missouri
Fox Trotter breeding in the world today. There are no known
homozygous breeding stallions, only mares.
What is different about DCC Vegas, DCC
Charisma and their offspring?
Because there are so few Curly Fox Trotters in existence, they are all
at least distantly related. Most come from a single sire, Walker's
Prince T. Our stallion, DCC Vegas, is not from the Walker Prince T line.
In fact, he is one of only a few Curly Missouri Fox Trotter stallions in
the world that are not related to Walker Prince T. This makes him
acceptable to cross with the majority of Curly Missouri Fox Trotter
mares now in existence. DCC Charisma has an even more rare Curly
Fox Trotter bloodline. A handful of breeders have taken on the
important cause of expanding the gene pool to retain the vigor,
strength and beauty of future generations of Curly Fox Trotters. We
have chosen to cross our foundation curly stock with high quality
straight Missouri Fox Trotters. This will help ensure the future of
these wonderful horses.
Is it true that curly horses can survive
extreme cold conditions?
Curly Fox Trotters are not only beautiful, they seem to be hearty and
able to survive extreme winter conditions. Their curly coat creates a
warm air layer and insulates them from the weather. People claim their
curly horses are often found with a crust of snow on their backs, which
the curls support, and they are warm and dry under the curls. We live
in Southern Utah and have not been able to witness this for ourselves
yet, but see below article entitled "The Dameles and the Curly Horse."
What is the difference between ICHO and
ABC registration? Is it important to have
my horse ABC registered?
ABC stands for American Baskir Curly. They are the original registrar
for all curly horses. We do not actively participate in ABC registration.
Several years ago the board of directors for that group decided to
close the books on curly horses. This means that only ABC registered
horses may be bred with other ABC registered horses in order for the
offspring to qualify for ABC papers. Many breeders of Gaited Curlies
and Curly Missouri Fox Trotters were not happy with this decision.
Currently there are only about 400 Gaited Curly Horses in the entire
world and of that 400, about 120 of them are MFTHBA registered Curly
Missouri Fox Trotters. This would mean that the only way for us to
maintain ABC papers would be for us to breed our few horses together
indefinitely. If we allowed this to happen, severe inbreeding would
result after only a few generations as most of them are related at least
Thus, ICHO (International Curly Horse Organization) was created by
progressive and dedicated members of the curly community. They saw
that inbreeding for gaited curlies and many other specialty groups of
curlies like curly sport horses, curly ponies and curly draft horses was
NOT acceptable. While they have strict specifications for allowing a
foal to become ICHO registered, the ICHO allows the specialty
breeders to outcross their valuable curly foundation horses with the
finest straight haired examples of their particular specialty. This way,
World Grand Champions can be added to curly foundation stock to
create the highest quality curly horses in the world. Thus, continually
improving andstrengthening gaited curly horses for future
The ABC and the ICHO are both great organizations, however, serious
breeders of Curly Missouri Fox Trotters recognize that the ABC
registered Curly Fox Trotters are literally a dying breed. In just a few
years they will either be seriously inbred or the last remaining ABC
registered Curly MFT's will simply die off. Given these facts, all of our
clients have been more than happy to have their Curly Missouri Fox
Trotters ICHO and MFTHBA registered.
How much do these horses cost?
Many people anticipate very high prices when purchasing such a rare,
quality horse, but prices for our Fox Trotters are usually similar to
other high quality horses. Most are purchased as foals, but
occasionally a yearling, two-year old or trained riding horse may be
available for purchase. Our straight haired foals (which often have the
same hypo-allergenic qualities) generally sell for $1,500 and up. Curly
MFT's generally sell for $4,800 and up depending on the bloodlines,
training, conformation, gait and color.