Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bashkir Curly

The Bashkir Curly, or Bashkirsky, evolved centuries ago in Bashkiria, around the southern foothills of the Urals. There it is bred as a pack, draft and riding animal and to provide meat, milk and clothing. In a 7 to 8 month lactation period, one mare yields 330-350 imperial gallons. Moreover, the peculiarly thick, curly coat can be spun into cloth.

Two types have developed within the USSR, the Mountain and the Steppe Bashkir Curly. The former has been crossed with Dons and Budonnys, and the latter, a harness type, with both Trotters and Ardennais stallions.

There are 1,100 or so Bashkir Curlys registered in America. It has been claimed that they arrived on the American continent across the land bridge that is now the Bering Strait. However, that takes no account of the fact that the speciesEquus was extinct on the American continent after the Ice Age, which swept away the land bridge across the Bering Strait, and the horse was not reintroduced until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores some 10,000 years later.

The hardy Bashkir Curly is kept outdoors and can survive winter temperatures of -22 to -44 degrees, and find food under 3ft of snow. A pair of Bashkir Curlys are said to be able to draw a sleigh 75-85 miles in 24 hours without being fed.


The principal feature of the Bashkir Curly, which is described as being docile and intelligent, is the very thick, curly, winter coat that enables it to survive in sub-zero temperatures. The principal colors are a red chestnut, bay and light brown. The practice of shoeing is not carried out in the Bashkir's natural habitat, the animals' hard hooves allows them to work under all kinds of conditions without shoes. The mane and tail is exceptionally thick. The head of the Russian Bashkir Curly is massive and set on a short, fleshy neck that runs into flat withers. The American version has been improved in these respects, and in recent years selective crosses have produced a better quality animal in the USSR. This horse is described in the official standard as being smalll with a wide body and a flat, straight back. The measurement around the girth for stallions is 71". The limbs of this solid little horse are comparitively short, and the official Russian breed standard quotes a remarkable bone measurement of 8" below the knee. The Bashkir Curly stands at 14hh.

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