In the now-closed "Who Uses Gut Strings?" thread Tim Johannessen said: "I don't think that bow hair is actually from dead horses. I recently saw a documentation about purses that are made from horsehair and the horses weren't killed, they just cut the tail."
I'm afraid this doesn't apply to bow hair. Michael Sowden, who has been in the business for some 40+ years and is probably the best-known supplier of bow hair, has stated that 95% or 98% of hair comes from dead horses which are killed for meat and other products.
He has also said that it takes about 5 horse tails to get enough good hair for a violin bow. (These comments were made at Maestronet in 2000.)
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