Curly Horse Farm Caters to Allergic Equestrians

Curly is on its way to becoming the fashion in France--not only in the hairdressers' salons, but in the stables, including a new equestrian center just north of the Riviera.

Since 2000, American Bashkir Curly breeding farms have been popping up in various regions of the country, but the recent opening of the Mas de l'Air Curly breeding farm and equestrian center in Cabannes is a first in France.

What makes this breed, originally developed in North America, so particular as to merit an entire European equestrian center devoted to it?

Described as a sturdy, intelligent, calm-natured, versatile saddle horse according to the National Standard for the North American Curly Horse, the Curly's hypoallergenic coat has also made it uniquely accessible to would-be equestrians suffering from equine allergies.

"It's above all an exceptional riding horse," said Francis Prévost, co-owner of the Mas de l'Air, along with wife Betty. "The fact that it's hypoallergenic is just an added benefit."

Using breeding stock imported from Idaho with the dominant Curly gene, the Prévosts are now also developing Curly ponies through cross-breeding with Shetlands. Cross-breeding with European warmbloods might be a future project, Prévost said.

As the history of North American Curlies includes extensive cross-breeding, additional cross-breeding is not considered problematic to maintaining the qualities of the breed, according to D. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, PhD, professor of pathology and genetics at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. However, only the curly-coated offspring should be considered potentially hypoallergenic.

A refuge for allergy-prone horse lovers throughout Europe, the Prévosts' "hypoallergenic equestrian center," is open to all equestrians interested in discovering this "fashionable" breed.

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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