Owners in west Dorset and the surrounding counties had believed that thieves plaited the manes of the beasts to identify which ones to steal when they returned at night.
But police officers investigating the incidents said there had been no thefts, and instead their enquiries led to the world of pagan ritual.
Read More: The Telegraph Sunday 6th December 2009
On farms it was customary to hang a hag stone on a nail (especially if it was made of iron as this increased the stones power) above the stable door or tied around a horses neck to prevent them from being 'hag rod'. A Dorset expression often used to describe when witches stole horses to ride to their sabbats. In some cases farmers who left their horses or even other livestock unprotected would often find their animals in sweaty and exhausted state with their manes full of tangles, which were known as 'hag knots'. A term often used, as it was believed that a witch tied knots in horse's manes to use as stirrups.