KEN CARYL, Colo. (KDVR) — Megan Morrison loves to spend time with Eleanor, her 5-year-old Holsteiner and partner in equestrian contests.

“Just a peace, the calm that they bring,” said Morrison, who participates in hunter/jumper competitions.

But recently, she was shocked to find that her horse’s tail had been cut.

The condition of a horse’s tail can affect a rider’s standing in competition, so Morrison carefully cares for Eleanor’s appearance.

“We all want a nice full, long tail, especially with a hunter/jumper discipline that I do,” she said. Jumpers are judged objectively and scored based on the fastest time and fewest faults on a course. Hunters are judged subjectively, based on rider and horse ability and style.

When Morrison visited Colorado’s Ken Caryl Equestrian Center this week, she discovered that someone had cut a large portion of Eleanor’s tail off during the night.

Horses rely on their tails

“Horses, they communicate by their behaviors, and mostly their ears and their tails, and you’re taking that away from them. So it just hurts you to the core knowing that’s happening to someone, something that you love and you’ve invested a lot of time and money into,” Morrison said.

A horse also uses its tail to swat flies and stay comfortable. The average tail grows about 1 centimeter every two weeks, so it will take years for Eleanor’s tail to grow back to competition length.

Morrison told News 2’s sister station, KDVR, it is well known in the horse community that thieves are after the tails to sell them on the black market, and eight tails were stolen at her facility over the past week.

“People use them for crafts or jewelry. They’ll use them to make violin bows,” Morrison said.

A person on a brown horse whose tail is shorter and thinner than normal
Eleanor, a 5-year-old Holsteiner and partner in hunter/jumper competition, had part of her tail cut off. (Photo: KDVR)

Another horse facility hit by tail thieves

KDVR found other complaints posted online, with one saying five tails were cut in three days by night stalkers around the same time at another metro-area riding facility.

The Ken Caryl Equestrian Center has a good system of surveillance cameras and conducts regular patrols, but they will be adding even more security measures and working with other equestrian centers to fight against tail theft and protect boarded horses.

“We actually patrol all of Ken Caryl, including the Equestrian Center,” Ken Caryl Ranch Master Association spokesperson Allison Hefner said. “It is about 10 miles, including our open space.”

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s office told News 2’s sister station the thefts are under investigation. Those responsible face tampering and mischief charges. Anyone experiencing horse tail theft should file a police report.