Thief cuts off horse tail in Utah

Thief cuts off horse tail in Utah

07 April 2013

UTtailcuttingCapture.JPG(KUTV) WASHINGTON COUNTY UT, March 8, 2013 -  Law enforcement and horse organizations say it’s the first case of its kind in Utah: thieves cutting off a horse’s tail.

It happened to a mustang this week in Washington County’s Dammeron Valley.

“They managed to get over the fence and get her tail, the whole tail,” said Eddie Zawacki of her horse Naja.

“She had a very beautiful tail; it was very thick, long.”

Whoever took Naja’s tail hair cut it from right below the muscle and bone section called the dock, netting the thief about two feet of hair.

“At first I thought maybe she got it caught on a fence or a tree,” Zawacki said. “But then when I examined the tail you could see it was just cut straight off.”

Zawacki called the sheriff’s department, which says it’s the first horse tail clipping reported to them. Deputies found footprints along the back fence of the property but no other evidence to point to a suspect, according to Zawacki.

“She’s totally different; it really had an effect on her,” Zawacki said. “She’d come up to anybody; was a very friendly horse, loved children and now she even backs away from me.”

Other parts of the country, including Colorado and Wyoming, have seen increased cases of horsetail theft. Investigators theorize of a black market for horsehair due to the shuttering of U.S. horse slaughterhouses in 2007. 

Bows for musical instruments, belts, pottery, Native American headdresses, and western apparel all use horsehair. The hair is also utilized in tail extensions for show horses.

“It’s a very lucrative business,” Zawacki said. “They can get up to $500 a tail.”

Horsehair can still be bought commercially from China, but Matt Bartlett, chairman of the Utah Horse Council, wonders if horse hair needed for smaller crafts is driving the black market.

Bartlett said Zawacki’s case is the only tail shearing in Utah that his organization is aware of.

“They need that tail,” Zawacki said, adding that her veterinarian has instructed her to weave a tail extension into Naja’s remaining tail hair so she can swat away flies and other biting bugs.

“She’s been a wonderful horse,” Zawacki said. “I am devastated. I just wish and hope that this person is found.”

Watch KUTV News video here.


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