Non Conventional Fibres Association

Horse hair  fibre

Zoological Information

  • The horse (Equus Caballus) has been employed for manual labour, transportation, and fibre production since ancient times. 
  • Horses typically have a lifespan of approximately 20-30 years. 
  • These creatures, believed to have been companions to humans for over 5500 years, encompass various breeds like the Arabian horse, Morgan horse, and pony. 
  • High-quality horse hair continues to be available in the market in various forms for diverse purposes.

Habitat and fibre production

  • Horses are versatile animals and can adapt to a variety of habitats that encompass environments such as pastures, paddocks, or ranches, providing ample space for grazing, movement, and shelter..
  • Horse hair is obtained from the manes and tails of horses, and it can be extracted by pulling it evenly and directly away from the neck, typically from above the withers.
  •  In the present day, Argentina, Canada, Mongolia, China, and Australia stand out as the primary horsehair fibre exporters, catering primarily to a specialized niche in the textile market.

Table 1. Physical and Mechanical  properties and chemical composition of Horse hair fibres

Physical and Mechanical composition



Mane hair – Length ( mm)


Mane hair – Fineness ( µm)


Tail hair – Fineness ( µm)


Tail hair – Fineness ( µm)


Breaking extension (%)


Initial Breaking Modulus (GPa)

2.6 – 4.9

Chemical Composition


Value(in %)

Fat Content


Moisture Content – Greasy hair


Moisture Content – Scoured hair



  • The tail-derived hair fibres are rough, robust, shiny, and elastic.
  • Typically, they possess a hollow core, resulting in lower density.
  • It is usually smooth, stiff, well-ventilated, washable and resists wear and tear
  • In contrast, the mane-produced hair is the most delicate.
  • Horse tail hair can be categorized based on colours such as black, white, grey, brown, and mixed.
  • These fibres are durable, anti-allergic and possess a stiff character.
  • Mongolian horse tail hair was found to possess a medulla and exhibited an average fibre diameter of 180 µm, showing a gradual increase in diameter from the tip (130 µm) to the root (230 µm).

Typical uses

  • Clothing crafted from tail hair lining fabric exhibits increased stiffness, aesthetic appeal, durability, and resilience. .
  • The lengthiest horse hairs find application in fabric production, while those of medium length are utilized in crafting bristles for a variety of brushes, including those used in painting, industry, and household chores. 
  • The shortest horse hair fibres, when curled, serve as filling for furniture and mattresses. Horsehair of superior quality is employed as strings for violin bows.
  • These fibres were also employed to produce fishing lines, nets, garment inner linings and handbags. 
  • The horse hair fabrics represented one of the traditional coverings for fine furniture, widely used by 18th century masters like Chippendale and Hepplewhite.
  • It was also used to make to grade sofa and car seat covers, superior handbags, and all types of cases and bags.
  • By the end of the 19th century, horse hair was used to make parlour sofas.
  • Horse hair-cotton blend fabric commonly served as an interlining or stiffening material in the construction of tailored garments and millinery. This particular fabric found its application in crafting shirts worn by religious penitents.