Part of the challenge of working for a health-focused horse publication is that when your cover story is about something not so attractive--say, colic, parasites, manure, or, as was the case this month, skin conditions--you’re left grasping for cover model options. We’re not going to put scaly/crusty/funky skin on our cover, so we have to be creative with our choices and our cover lines.

Managing editor Alex found a compelling shot of a Curly Sporthorse Mare, which ended up as a perfect choice; freelancer Dr. Stacey Oke had described what’s normal (not just the Bad Stuff), along with a short description of some of the unique equine hair coats out there.

Photo: Arnd Bronkhorst/

Because a few people have asked, yes, our cover mare’s coat is completely healthy and normal for her (Doesn’t she look huggable? I’m reminded of a snuggly Labradoodles or a Goldendoodle. Love!)

Personally, I only have experience being around one horse with curls, a sweet mare named Marley.

Marley at 8 months old, the day she met Missy and Little Mose.

Photo: Courtesy Missy Howard/

One of my former roommates, Missy, has a penchant for off-the-track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs) as well as classy little Welsh-cross ponies. She spent several years of her career working to place OTTBs, and she and our other roommate at the time, Amy, owned several child’s mounts that they were training back when we were a bunch of horse-crazy roomies.

Missy went off-course a little, then, when she acquired curly, stout Marley as a filly, but she has never regretted the decision. “Marley is half-Percheron and half-Curly, having the recessive curly gene from her mother side,” she says. “From what I have known working around (Marley and) a few other Curlies, they are very docile and they're willing to work in many different types of disciplines.

“Marley has grown out of her curls, unfortunately,” Missy laments, though she acknowledges that with the registered-Percheron sire, and the PMU mare dam testing for the recessive gene, Marley is not a true Curly. “In the winter she looks a little wavy but nothing like she did when she was young.”

Marley at 11 years old.

Photo: Courtesy Missy Howard/

I asked Missy if Marley ever developed any skin problems, and she noted that when the filly was a yearling, up until she was about 3, she would get skin rashes on her stomach. The irritation eventually faded but the rash returned this summer.

“I talked to a couple vets about her skin issues and they have told me what little they have worked with Curlies they find it interesting that they are hypoallergenic,” Missy says, “But it seems that they have skin problems of their own and seem to have higher issues with allergies on their skin.”

So, besides hair coat conundrums, which you can preview here, what else went on in our November issue? It’s one of my favorite issues this year, with additional stories on:

Missy and Marley this summer. 

Photo: Courtesy Missy Howard/

  • Joint Injections: These are much more commonly used than when I was competing 10 years ago, and it’s interesting to hear the research that’s come out about them. Also, don’t miss the archived free webcast on the subject with Dr. David Wilson from Colorado State University.
  • Diagnostic Tests: CBCs, blood chem., cultures—yes, we hear the terms thrown around all the time, but what do they really mean? The story is incredibly useful and we also rolled out our first infographic with it. If you’re on Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook, make sure you share that baby, because it’s pretty fantastic.
  • AAEP Preview: Veterinarians can get a sneak peak of who’s offering what in the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ 59th Annual Convention trade show. We’re less than a month away from this event. Study up!
  • Feeding the Finicky Horse: If you have one in your herd who needs to gain wait and turns his nose up, make sure you pick up the issue.
  • Horse Farm Liability: You don’t have to look through many headlines to confirm we live in a litigious society. It’s crucial to keep up with current strategies for protecting your equine business from liability, and Milt breaks them down in this piece.
  • The issue also includes news headlines, a guide to managing laminitis with your veterinarian-farrier team, and also some fun insight on how horses respond differently to each of their caretakers.

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So, back to our Curly topic. Have you ever managed a Curly horse? If so, what have you learned in the process?