5 more Colorado horses lose tails to thieves | VailDaily.com

5 more Colorado horses lose tails to thieves

Bill Scanlon
Rocky Mountain News

PARKER, Colorado ” Another five horses lost their tails to thieves Wednesday night, just a week after someone made off with the tails of three Belgian horses, neighbors in Parker’s horse country said today.

The motive might be financial ” horse hair is used for hat bands, hair and tail extensions, violin strings and the like ” but otherwise it makes no sense at all, say frustrated neighbors.

Horse thievery used to be a hanging offense, and these neighbors wouldn’t mind some old-fashioned western justice ” at least some jail time ” for those who stole the horses’ tails.

“I can’t imagine why anyone would do something like this, or what they would do with the hair,” said Tom Johnson, who co-owns Happy Trails Horse Drawn Rides in Parker.

He awoke last Thursday morning to find that three of his Belgian horses were without tails.

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Prince, the 11-year-old, lost 30 inches of tail, and it will probably be 10 years before it all grows back, Johnson said.

Ike, 5, and Sonny, 4, also lost their tails, apparently to a thief with a knife, as judged by the jagged lines left behind.

Johnson’s Belgians are friendly with people, so much so that they probably just stood there while the horse-hair thief hacked off their tails, he said.

“I don’t know what to think,” said Debby Shorkea, whose foxtrotter Old Man lost his tail some time Wednesday night.

She told her neighbor about it this morning, who responded that one of her horses had been hit, too. When they went to check on that horse, the neighbor found that three others also had lost their tails.

“It makes me uneasy,” Shorkea said. “At the very least, it’s trespassing.

“You never know, if someone is doing that kind of thing, if they could injure your horse,” she said. “They might not know anything about horses.”

Horse owners are talking today about rumors that a religious cult in Florida might have been stealing the tails off horses.

The horses probably didn’t feel any pain from the shearing, but “they’re going to suffer this summer when they go to switch flies off themselves, and they don’t have a tail to do it,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s horses take people on wagon rides and participate in parades, including Denver’s Parade of Lights.

He and his partners, Jim and Cheryl Hoff, “are kind of at a loss as to what to do” in terms of extra security, Johnson said.

They could put up a motion detector, but “then the light would go on every time a horse moved,” Johnson said.

He’s hoping the thieves won’t return, but he is leery.

“It’s getting to be kind of scary because you don’t know if that is the only thing they are going to do.”

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