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The Journey



My journey with the American Curly horse, and as an author, began some years ago when I read a piece in an equine magazines about a rare horse with a curly coat. Fascinated by a horse drenched in rich American history, I decided to learn more about this rare breed known as the American Curly Horse. Through much research, I found a breeder in Pennsylvania, purchased two Curly mares and began my fun-filled journey with this unique breed. Two years later, I purchased a Curly colt from a farm in Virginia and began my American Curly horse breeding program.

My love of horses drew me to write my Samantha Steele series. Through Samantha, I share my passion for Equine Rescue and Therapeutic Riding Programs. Although Curly horses star in each novel, other breeds are woven into each story line. As a guest speaker, I also share my passion for our  wild mustangs that run free on the western plains and describe the plight of these magnificent steeds.

My newest novel, Izzy The Reluctant Spy, has taken me in a new direction. I am aware women are productive throughout our lives and once we hit our 60th decade we need more women of this age to become our stories. Izzy is our complex hero and her life changes when she goes undercover to help a friend. This book is current and is a topic we can all relate to in an entertaining read.

Co-author Courtney Vail and I collaborated on the award winning middle-school series Angels Club. We wrote the entertaining series to show how horses can impact lives and build confidence in young readers. Our readers learn how these magnificent steeds can become catalysts to overcome obstacles and empower young people everywhere. The diverse series stars youngsters of different ethnicity and physical capabilities, proving that everyone can make a difference. Each book tells the story through the eyes of the main character, while teaching life lessons on how to be the best we can be. We are proud that the Angels Club Series takes on bullying of all sorts and provides meaningful steps to stop it.




~ Sandy Howell

The Response to Our Books


The most positive book I’ve read in a long while! ~ OneReader


This is a great story for kids, especially young girls, but adults will like it too - and if you are really lucky, it might help you recapture the spirit of youth for a while. ~ Ray Simmons, Readers’ Favorite


Purchased for our store.  A refreshing idea of children doing good for others all on their own! ~ David Paradis


Amazing book! This book is a very special one. At the end I cried! It’s such a sweet story! You can't put it down! ~ Melissa Kyles




Sandra J. Howell has brought us her first novel, jam-packed with exotic horses, passionate horse people, and a bit of drama as well. As fellow horse people, it's easy for us to relate to Samantha's struggles and root for her as she struggles to achieve her dreams. It's clear that this book was written by a knowledgeable horse person and Howell sheds light on a little known breed in a pleasant way. BOTTOM LINE; Entertaining story, heavy on the horses. ~ Kate Tully/Horsemen’s Yankee Pedlar


As a long-time American Curly horse breeder, and the Executive Direction of a Therapeutic Riding Program, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. Curly horses are used exclusively in our program and this novel serves our horses well. Not only is this novel an entertaining read, as it follows the adventures of two strong women, but it is an honest description of therapeutic riding and life with horses. ~ Betsy Lirakis, Executive Director, Dream On Curls Riding Center



Although we love having enthusiastic readers who adore our diverse Angels Club Series as much as we do, it was also an honor to have its excellence officially recognized with this prestigious silver medal for Best Series - Chapter Books in children's literature.







Photo sent as a gift to Howell in recognition of her dedication in sharing the amazing history of the American Curly Horse.




We're proud to announce that authors Sandra J. Howell and Courtney Vail were awarded a 2023 grant from Unify Against Bullying to promote their six-book Angels Club Series. The AC book series provides lessons, hope and anti-bullying tips to readers. With their novel, Angel Club 5, they have woven a story about Celia, a bullied girl, who gains confidence, power and strength to stand up to her bullies. Celia and her friends become Unify Against Bullying ambassadors at their schools.

The Unify Against Bullying  award allowed the authors to donate more than 75 books to organizations. All six books in the series were donated along with the illustrated Children's books, Rich Strike and Angels Journey.

This is the second award they have received from Unify Against Bullying.

American Curly Information

Historical information obtained from  OWNERS AND BREEDERS OF CURLY HORSES .


Curly horse in America were known to Native Americans. The Crow and Sioux both had Curly horses. The documentation for this is found in their calendars called WINTER COUNTS, which are picture books of sketched events during certain years to track their respective histories. In the WINTER OF 1801-02, it shows a drawing of a Curly horse and is remembered as the winter THE SIOUX STOLE CURLY HORSES FROM THE CROW. The Curly has been said to be sacred to the Natives who called them buffalo ponies. They were owned by chiefs and medicine men.


Chief Red Horse described the Battle of Little Big Horn to a U. S. Army surgeon in sign language and drew a series of pictures of the battle in 1881.


Curly horses were found at the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. They have also been found at Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota and at Rock Springs, Wyoming. 


The Damele Family is the most well-known foundation breeder in Nevada. Giovanni (John) Damele, an Italian immigrant, settled near Eureka, Nevada with his family and started ranching. They spotted Curly horses in the mustang herds of Nevada as early as the late 1800s. In the winter of 1932, most of their livestock and horses died due to the severe winter storms and freezing cold. In the spring, the horses were rounded up and a few straight-haired and Curly horses were all that remained. The Curly horses were bred with straight-haired horses and many foals were born. in 1950s, another severe winter storm developed and all of the horses died except for a Curly colt and four Curly mares. Because of their heartiness, other breeds were bred to them, including Appaloosa, Saddlebred, Quarter Horse and Draft. Most Curly horses of today trace back to the Damele Curlies. in the 1960s, they were bred to the Missouri Foxtrotter and today, many Curly horses are gaited.


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