PLAINFIELD, Ind. - A bizarre crime is getting the attention of law enforcement in Hendricks County.
The sheriff’s department has received several reports of someone breaking into farms and pastures and cutting the tails off horses.
Fifteen-year-old Kyliegh Parrish has a mitochondrial disease that makes life tough, but her three horses make life a little bit better.
“I can’t do much, but I can come out here and play with them and that helps,” said Parrish.
Last week, the Parrish family says someone broke into their Plainfield pasture and cut the tail and mane off their mini-horse, Addie.
“It makes me very, very upset that someone was messing with my animals,” Parrish said.
Horse hair is worth thousands of dollars on the internet as well as the black market.
It is used for jewelry, as well as “phony pony” hair extensions in horse shows, according to Jenny Tauer, executive secretary for the Indiana Quarter Horse Association.
“It’s cruel to the horse,” said Tauer. “If you cut their tail off, it has no way to get flies or bugs off of them.”
Parrish also shows Addie in 4-H halter class horse shows, where looks and grooming are just about everything.
“(Criminals) need to understand what they're doing to these kids,” said Jackie Parrish, Kyliegh’s mother. “They're 4-H horses. They're their life. It's really important to have a mane and tail for judging. They're not just taking a tail -- they're taking a part these kids worked so hard for."
The Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department is also investigating horse hair thefts at another farm in Plainfield involving full size horses.
“We will have to spend around $300-$1,000 to have hair added as an extension to her tail after the winter is over so she can have something to swat the flies in the summer,” said Denne’ Smith, horse owner, in an email to RTV6. “Unfortunately, it isn't like human hair getting cut. It takes years to grow back.”
Smith’s quarter horse, CeCe, had 2 feet of its tail cut off.
“You can’t really show a horse without a tail,” Smith said.
Lt. Chuck Morefield told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney the cases are open, but they don’t have any leads.
The thieves face possible charges of criminal mischief, trespassing and animal cruelty.
The horse owners say they believe it was more than just a cruel prank.
“It was the way they cut the hair,” said Jackie Parrish. “They were very detailed and instead of leaving the hair, every piece of the hair was gone.”
Kyliegh still plans to show Addie this spring, but her family, already strapped with medical bills for her illness, will have to foot the bill for horse hair extensions.
“I think it’s very, very upsetting someone would do that for money,” Kyliegh said. “It made me even more upset that I wasn’t there to protect them.”