Reports of equine tail-hacking cases are on the rise in Michigan and though authorities are asking people to be on the lookout for perpetrators, it remains unclear if the motivation behind targeting horses and ponies is for play or profit.

At least six tail-hacking cases have been reported to Michigan police during the last month, including the most recent last Thursday that involved two miniature ponies in Port Huron, about 60 miles northeast of Detroit. Last month, police in the Detroit suburb of Trenton said three ponies and a horse that give rides to children had their tails cut off. Similar incidents also have been reported elsewhere in the U.S.

But while tail-hacking cases in southeast Michigan are growing, and now expanding beyond the suburban Detroit area to areas where horse farms are more prevalent, the identities of the tail hackers and their motivations remain unclear. Some possible motives include: A market exists for fake tails for horse shows that are braided into a horse's tail to make it appear longer. They can cost several hundred dollars. Also, hair from horse tails can be sold for arts and crafts projects or other uses.

Kathie Simasko told the Times Herald of Port Huron (http://bwne.ws/27a4qXJ) that she was shocked when she found her ponies' tails cut off last Thursday at her property in St. Clair County's Kenockee Township. The Michigan State Police are investigating the incident, and Simasko urged any other horse owners to report related incidents.

"I just sat here for probably five minutes and was just like, 'What the heck?'" Simasko said, noting there was hair on a portion of the pasture fence, looking as if the ponies had been pressed up against it. She said her horses, named Samson and Levi, are "going to be miserable" this summer because it will be harder for them to swat away flies and insects.

Simasko said she is glad that her miniature horses weren't further harmed or let loose. Her four horses on the back of the property did not appear to have been touched.

In Trenton, Nicole West, the owner of the three ponies and a horse that last month also their tails cut off, said it would take at least a year for the tails to fully grow back.

Meanwhile, in St. Clair County, Sheriff Tim Donnellon wants people to "be vigilant," especially in rural areas where horse farms are common.

"If somebody sees something or hears something, call 911 and we'll have the closest available car respond and hopefully we can catch these folks," Donnellon said.