Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Thieves are stealing horsehair...right from the horses. Draught horses, saddle horses, even miniature horses. Their hair is used to make belts, bracelets, barrettes, bridles, key chains, hat bands, violin bows, upholstery, paintbrushes, pocketbooks, fishing line, and hair extensions for show horses. It goes for up to $80/lb (and reportedly up to $350/lb on the international black market), so it is being hacked off live horses. The crime has been happening in states across the country, as well as in Canada and Australia:
  • Colorado - Three Belgian draft horses (1st image) on a ranch near Parker had their 2 1/2' tails cut off in Feb. 2009.
  • Iowa - Quarterhorses Bo and Joey had parts of their tails removed in Oskaloosa in July 2006.
  • Montana - Sam (2nd image) lost part of his tail on a farm near Dillon in Sept. 2010. Mare Raz's tail was swiped near Belgrade this month.
  • Ohio - At least 14" of hair was cut from the tail of Brownie, a miniature show horse from Wakeman, in Nov. 2010.
  • Texas - Another miniature horse was on of 7 horses in the Decatur area to lose their tails to thieves between Dec. 2010 and Feb. 2011.
  • Massachusetts - Two horses in a Wellfleet corral lost their tails in Sept. 2011.
  • Michigan - The tail of an 18-year-old horse named Star (3rd image) was cut off in January 2010.
The hair takes years to grow back, during which the horses are deprived of their means of swatting flies in the summer and staying warm in the winter. One of the Montana horse owners hopes that the thieves received the rewards of being on the business end of the animals' hooves. But a Colorado owner worries that the intimidating size of the victims suggests that the thieves know horses and how to handle them. "If they were mean horses, they would have never gotten away with it," says another victimized stable owner.

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