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Good hair day from head to tail

Natural horse hair extensions add volume, serve function

ROCKGLEN, Sask. — Horsehair tail extensions are a growing business in the equine industry, said Michele Hansen, owner of Southend Tail Extensions.

She said the idea came to her when she showed Quarter horses and needed something to make her black mare’s tail look fuller. About 15 years ago, she designed and created her first tail.

“People liked it,” said Hansen, whose business is based at the family’s ranch near Rockglen, Sask.

She began by asking trainers and riders about what they were using.

Michele Hansen shows custom horse hair tail extensions she produces from her home near Rockglen, Sask.  |  William DeKay photo

Michele Hansen shows custom horse hair tail extensions she produces from her home near Rockglen, Sask. | William DeKay photo

“Lots of market research and watching horses in the arena, seeing what they were using, how they attached. And then I would pick one up and make something else up.”

She played with other kinds of extensions until they were easy to attach and looked good.

Five years ago, Hansen started selling them and it didn’t take long for the business to grow through word of mouth advertising and a website.

Besides their use in the equine world, Southend Tail Extensions products have been used in movies and a museum exhibit featuring a horse.

Each tail is hand made from real horse hair and available in different lengths in basic colours or custom blends. The tail extensions are hair-to-hair attachments and legal for most breed shows.

Weights range from one to two pounds, with the extensions priced between $220 and $355.

“There’s different purposes for them. Some people just like to add that fullness in the tail. Some people like a little heavier tail. It looks thicker and weighs the tail down a bit.”

Horses have different colours and textures of hair, just as humans do.

“I would say 75 percent to 80 percent of these horses have some kind of tail extension, if not one of mine then somebody else’s,” said Hansen.

After a good cleaning and shining, the hair is glued to a piece of leather with grommets attached that secure the tail. The design lies flat against the tailbone, positioning the extension to where there is top hair to hide the small leather piece.

“It’s one of the easiest hair extensions to put in,” she said.

Tail extensions are worn by horses in Western and English classes and rodeo events. They’re also used for rescue horses that are missing part of their natural tail.

“I made up some light ones for them so that they could put them on and the horse could swish his tail and swat the flies,” she said.

“The tail serves a function.”

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