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The North American Curly Horse
Allergy Information
    It is evident that many people who normally have allergic reactions of various degrees to "regular" horses, do not react to the Curly horse. These North American Curly horses have been proven to be hypo-allergenic. We have Testimonials to this effect.
    The ICHO has undertaken to study this factor and has preliminary scientific results which can be viewed at ICHO Hypo-Allergenic Proof. What they have proven is that the "Curly" horses have a different protein in their genetic make up to straight haired horses, and that they have less of it. This is the first scientific evidence of the hypo-allergenic traits of the North American Curly Horses!!
CBC Radio
    I had the opportunity to talk with Lily Byrtus on CBC Radio one. Lily is with the Allergy Asthma Information Association in Edmonton and is the regional co-ordinator for the prairies, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut regions. I questioned her on what it means that the protein is different. She advised that the protein is part of the make up of the horse. It is in their hair, mane, dander (the dead skin cells), urine and manure. So what this explains to us is that people with allergies are responding to all aspects of the horse. They can react to the manure on the ground, a blanket with the hair, or the dander in the air. This further explains our experience of the Curlies being hypo-allergenic as long as they have the Curly ears, fetlocks and mane. If these are apparent on the horse then they have the different protein.

     We have noticed a number of factors that contribute to their hypo-allergenic qualities:

1. Their hair is hollow fibered, similar to angora. (Which can be spun and knitted into sweaters, etc.) The winter coat with all of it's curl is similar to a Terrier or Poodle, which are also hypo-allergenic.
2. People with allergies tell us that they smell different.
3. They have a different dander to normal horses. Dander is the dead skin cells that the horses shed, same as we do. They certainly sweat different due to the different dander. Sweat doesn't accumulate the same way it does on a straight horse.
4. Research has proven that they have a different protein in their DNA than regular horses.
5. It is also thought that they have a different oil on their coat and more of it.
     The ICHO (International Curly Horse Organization) is accumulating data on an on-going basis to perform research to further prove the reason Curlies are hypo-allergenic.

     If you are allergic to horses or know someone who is and you are going to visit a "Curly Horse" farm, there are some things to keep in mind. Try to visit them when there as least other reactive elements around as possible (e.g. no pollen fluff flying off the local poplar trees). Let the farm know previously about your allergies. Ask to have contact with a Curly that has not been housed/pastured with "regular" or "straight", a curly bred horse that carries a straight coat (see breed description for more details), as that horse's body hair/dander may be on the Curly that you wish to test for reaction. The horse can be bathed as well to ensure it does not have straight hair on it, when you come into contact with it. But do not test a horse that has just been freshly bathed as it can remove properties of the horse that you may react to.
     Also be careful that any halters, ropes, blankets, brushes, etc. are used only on the Curly, as highly allergic people can react to the dander or hair on these items from straight haired horses and not the Curly horse.

    When a person with allergies arrives at our stable, we first let them just "smell the air". Everyone with extreme allergies has always told us that they can smell the difference as soon as they get out of their car. Next we will let them stand beside a curly. Then they can pet a Curly. It is at this point that everyone that has done a test with our Curlies becomes less skeptical. They do not have the asthma or hives like they would being this close to a regular horse. Most people will then actually rub their face in the hair of the Curly and smell them fully for the first (but usually not the last!) time.
    We generally spend about 3 - 4 hours to do a full test. Most visitors will ride a curly, for some this is their first time ever to be on a horse. It is very exciting for everyone and when I see the joy on their face it gives me goose bumps ever time!

     Most importantly, please carry your medications for allergic reaction with you. In general this breed has been found to be hypo-allergenic, but there are exceptions. However, it is certainly worth investigating if you are a horse lover and are suffering now or doing totally without. We know of many highly allergic people that have rubbed and hugged our Curlies without any reaction and it has changed there lives forever.

    Please check our Testimonials from people that have visited us here at Sunnybrook Stables and have proven the hypo-allergenic qualities of our Curly horses.