IT IS the bizarre act that has left horse lovers and police across Hampshire mystified.

What appears to be a ritualistic chopping of horses tails has sparked both concern and confusion among the county’s equine community.

Police have put horse owners on alert and appealed for any information that can explain why the tails of two animals were cut off while they grazed in a field.

In a separate twist other horses across Hampshire have been discovered by shocked owners with their mane hair plaited.

One theory being looked into by officers is that it is part of a strange ritual by pagans in the lead up to the Winter Solstice later this month.

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Another is that it could be the work of people looking for authentic hair while making rocking horses as expensive Christmas gifts.

But last night both lines of inquiry were ruled out by experts, increasing concern among anxious horse owners.

The first horse to have its tail removed was grey Merlin, which was attacked while in a field next to owner Ali Everett’s home in Kings Somborne.

The offender then returned the following day to take the tail of Tracey Haines’ bay horse, Henry, from the same field.

Ali, 39, said: “The horses are only 40 feet away from my kitchen window. It makes me nervous. I’m putting them in their stables in the daylight because I’m worried someone may be up there when I put them away in the dark.”

Meanwhile, Catherine Hosen, spokeswoman for the Pagan Federation of Wessex, said: “It’s certainly not any ritual that I’m aware of. Any day in the year you could say it’s close to some pagan ritual because the calendar is pretty full of them.

“Pagans have a strong respect for anything to do with nature. They would ask permission before removing a branch from a tree, let alone do anything to a horse.”

Rocking Horse restorer and creator, Chris Ward, said that anyone who was serious about rocking horses would know the tail hair was wrong.

Chris, who has restored rocking horses for the Royal family, said: “If you make quality rocking horses then you will use real horse hair, but you would know to buy it from reputable traders.

“You need hair from the mane – cutting straight from the tail wouldn’t be good enough really.”

Last night Hampshire Police issued a warning to horse owners across the country. Force equine liaison officer David Collings, said: “Be vigilant, be aware of your animal and how it’s looking in terms of their manes and if there are plaits take a picture and report it to Hampshire horsewatch so we are aware.”

Anyone with information on the tail cuttings can contact Hampshire Police on 101, call Crimsestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or email Hampshire Horsewatch at