By  on May 27, 1994

NEW YORK -- Mass market manufacturers are hoping to corral a barnyard concept for mainstream retailing.

For the last year or so, a growing number of people have been turning to products first designed for horses for their personal grooming needs, according to hair and nail care manufacturers. For the most part, these products were originally created for the hair and hooves of horses and have been distributed at tack stores and pet supply shops.

Now equine care has turned human with product entries from companies such as Straight Arrow Corp. of Bethlehem, Pa., which makes Mane 'N Tail grooming products; General Therapeutics of Hempstead, N.Y., which markets Old Western Thoroughbred products, and Conair Corp. of Stamford, Conn., which is rolling out Magical Mane shampoo and conditioner this month.

Grooming products used on horses generated only about $10 million at wholesale last year, according to industry sources. Human consumption, however, is much higher.

Sources estimated that horse grooming products used on people will be at least an $80 million business at wholesale this year.

"Everybody's getting into it," said Alan Estrin, president of General Therapeutics, which started marketing Old Western Thoroughbred Shampoo, Conditioner and Hair & Scalp Conditioner for Mane, Tail and Body about six months ago.

"There have always been buzzwords in the hair care industry like 'collagen' or 'panthenol.' This is another one of those. But this is not an ingredient buzzword. It's a lot bigger than that."

"Our biggest problem now is that when we go to the horse shows, we have to remind people to use the products on their horses," added Gene Carter, vice president of sales and marketing for Straight Arrow Corp., which markets Mane 'N Tail hair and hoof products.

According to manufacturers, the attraction of equine grooming products is that they tend to impart a tremendous shine to the hair while detangling. The hoof products are said to improve nails since a hoof and a fingernail have basically the same composition.

"I think people noticed that when they treated their horses' hooves, the condition of their own hands and nails improved," Carter said. "That's probably why they decided to try the hair products, as well.

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