We first got started raising Curlies when a woman we knew in northern California called and told us she’d be leaving the country for a year. She asked us if we’d be willing to take care of Rosie, her bay Curly mare. We had just moved from Seattle to Marrowstone Island, a farming area near Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula, and didn’t have any place to put a horse, but that didn’t stop us. Within a week, we found pasture nearby and a source of hay. A few weeks later, Tames drove down with a borrowed trailer and brought Rosie back.
That was in early 1990. Since then, we have acquired a buckskin stallion, JC’s Jubilee, and a pinto Curly yearling mare, Epona. Our friend was out of the country longer than anticipated, so she gave us permission to breed Rosie and keep the foal, and that’s how we got Arwen, our filly.
I’d never been with horses before and was amazed at their size and strength. I was even more impressed by the temperament of our Curlies. They have been consistently gentle and kind, especially the stallion. Curlies love to be with humans and are willing to do almost anything.
New and unusual things don’t bother Curlies at all. It takes a lot to spook them, but if that happens, they take about three steps and turn to face what scared them, instead of running away. I’ve seen this happen occasionally, once with all three girls together. A piece of paper fluttered in the wind as I was feeding them. They jumped ran two steps, and turned in unison. Two seconds later, they were eating calmly again.
Curlies also are highly curious. If I go out to check fences, hammer boards, or string wire, the horses always come up to me, even when I’m pounding away and making lots of noise. Even pounding fence posts doesn’t bother them! (We trained our horses to accept a trailer by parking it in the pasture and feeding them inside it with the doors open. Once, I had to do some trailer work while Epona was inside eating dinner. I hammered away and all she did was look at me over the partition; then, she ignored me.)
When we got Jubilee, we quickly taught him to accept us and to let us catch him. That went so well that we went right into longeing and taught him to walk, trot canter, and whoa. Then it was time to teach him to accept a saddle.
While he ate, we showed him that blankets and saddles on his back were OK. After a few days of that, we attached the girth and decided to take him for a walk around the pasture. He took two steps away and spooked, breaking away from us.
He ran around the 1-acre pasture once, bucked twice, then stopped and looked at us as if to say, “What did you do to me?” We walked right up to him and caught him.
That was it. He never worried about saddles again. The next day, we longed him with the saddle on. Even the stirrups flapping didn’t bother him.
Rosie’s birthing of Arwen was also trouble-free. She did it herself in half an hour without complications. At early feeding one morning, she was pregnant; when we went to feed chickens a short time later, we had a baby on our hands!
Since then, we have spoken to other Curly owners and have learned that such behavior is normal for the breed. These horses are invariably hardy, gently, intelligent, and curious. Although I was initially wary of getting involved with horses, the past three years have sold me on Curlies.
By: Jim Alan
From: Rocky Mtn. Feed & Livestock Journal, September, 1993