Horsehair refers to hair taken from the mane or tail of horses. It has various uses including brushes and the bows of musical instruments. The word is also used to refer to haircloth, a hard-wearing fabric made from horsehair. The term can also refer to horsehair plaster, a wallcovering material formerly used in the construction industry and now found only in older buildings; it has been replaced by drywall and other cheaper, more modern materials.
It can be very stiff or very fine and flexible, mane hair is generally softer but shorter than tail hair, which is longer and thicker. The quality of the horse's natural hair may play a role, as it varies to some degree by breed of horse and nutritional conditions. The processing given to horsehair may also impact its quality.
It is used for the crafts of horsehair hitching, horsehair braiding, pottery, and in making jewelry. It is used to make some wall and fine arts paintbrushes.
It was commonly used in the 1800s as upholstery stuffing (such as for fabric sofas) and as covering fabric for furniture. It was almost always the fiber used to make shaving brushes. It was also common in hats and women's undergarments. It was used in the hair to create the "Gibson Girl" look. In the 1700s it was commonly used in wigs. Until the 1900s, it was commonly used to make fine arts paintbrushes, along with sable, fox, wolf, goat, and lamb hair. Calligraphy brushes are made from rabbit, fox, or horse hair, among others.
For thousands of years, fishing lines have been fabricated of horsehair.
- Camel hair
- Mohair (goat hair)