Horse Tail Thieves Rile Colo. Ranchers

Who's stealing horses' fly swatters—and why?
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Feb 16, 2009 7:06 AM CST
A boy plays with his horse's tail as his mother saddles the horse on a Montana ranch. Other horses are not so lucky. Cruel thieves have chopped off their fly swatters.   (AP Photo/Montana Standard, Perry Backus)
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(Newser) – Angry horse owners are bridling at bizarre new attacks on their four-hoofed friends, reports the Los Angeles Times: tail theft. One Colorado rancher woke up recently to find someone had chopped off the long flaxen tails of all of his Belgian draft horses. "It makes me so mad," he complained. "If they were mean horses, they would have never gotten away with it."

Though rare, tail thieves have hit horses in a number of states, as well as in Australia and Canada. Observers are at a loss to explain the phenomenon. Belts, hat bands, tail extensions, and violin bows are made of horse hair, but it's usually purchased from foreign slaughter houses. Horse tails only grow about 3-4 inches a year, and the animals need long tails to swat flies. "When the flies get bad, those horses get miserable," said a rancher.