The first recorded breeders of curly horses were the Crow Indians. In 1801 or 1803, some Lakota warriors either stole or were given some of their stock. The Eli Bad Warrior family had some of the last known Curly horses and sold them to a long time horse wrangler named Ernie Hammrich, who began breeding them for the curly hair trait. This is how they came to be known as the Bad Warrior Curly Horse line.
Thanks to Ernie, the Bad Warrior Curly Horses are still flourishing, and represent one of the most highly valued bloodlines of the North American Curly Horse Organization.
There is some conflicting evidence on whether the curly horse was stolen from the Crow, or given to the Lakota as a gift. One Lakota winter count in 1801 says they stole them from the Crow. This event has placed the Sioux at that time in the Standing Rock/Cheyenne River area. Another winter count in 1803 says they captured them on the prarie. White Cow Killer calls his winter count of 1803-1804 the “Plenty of woolly horses winter” and shows illustrations that represent curly horses. Some people think this is when the Lakota aquired the curly horse, while others speculate that the herd had expanded to a large number by 1803.
A series of drawings by a Crow warriror show a Crow and a Lakota peacefully together riding side by side in ceremonial dress and another picture of the same riders, with the Crow presenting a curly horse to the Lakota.
Because the Lakotas and Crows were primary enemies, and usually didn't meet together, this drawing could represent the loss of the horse to the Lakota, although the drawing appears to be a peaceful gathering rather than a battle scene. This could also be a representation of an extraordinary act between a Crow and Lakota warrior, which would be worth comemorating on paper.
A warrior named Young Eagle recalled, "these horses were raised by the Indians as far back as anyone can remember. Most of them were dark in color with hair 'singed.' Hence their name, which is Sung-gu-gu-la, literally translating to 'horses with burnt hair.' "
The Bad Warrior horses trace their lineage back to Sitting Bull's horses. At least one Lakota rode a curly horse at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Drawings done after the battle show a Lakota riding a curly horse with a rawhide bridle, and leading a captured military horse.
Eli Bad Warrior was a Native American that raised Curly horses on the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation. He got his Curlies from his father. Eli sold his Curlies to Slim Berndt who then sold them to Ernie Hammrich. Ernie bred these Curlies and then sold many to the Neidhards (NTS).
Ernie also kept some Native stock and bred them to foundation Quarter Horses, calling this line the "Bad Warrior", "Warrior" line in honor of Eli Bad Warrior.