Looking at whorls is a time honored method of judging a horse’s temperament.
Long held as superstition, there is science to back it up. Hair and brain are formed from the same fetal cell layer. Because they form at the same time it makes sense that as a fetus develops the hair growing over the brain, and body, can shows signs of what is going on underneath.
The placement of a whorl on a horse’s face can tell us a lot about their personality.
If it is up high, above eye level, the horse will be very smart, energetic, and outgoing. An extrovert.
To the right, our right as we face them that is, shows a right brained horse, reactive, emotional, nervous, defensive.
A whorl placed below eye level should be an introvert, sometimes considered lazy or stubborn they are smart, easily bored, and can be distrustful. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a mule that didn’t have a low whorl.
A whorl that sits on the left side of the face, again our left, means a left brain horse. One who is confident and willful. The farther a whorl is from center the more pronounced the effect will be.
A center whorl is the most common and doesn’t tell us a whole lot. With that type of whorl we need to look at the shape of the head, ear, eyes, all the other clues we are given.
When we get into two or more whorls it gets even more complicated. They can show tendencies from two very different brain types. Whorls that are stacked, one above the other, show a horse that is an introvert and an extrovert. Side by side whorls will be right-brain, reactive, and hot, as well as left-brain, unreactive, and confident.
The more whorls the more interesting the horse. The people I’ve talked to who have horses with three or four or more whorls have loved them.
Whorls can pop up in some unexpected places across the body of the horse too. All horses have whorls on the neck that will tell us where they prefer to flex or what direction they like to turn towards.
Whorls on the body can tell us if they will be sensitive to the cinch or girth, or possibly even to the saddle. Whorls on the legs and belly can tell us how the horse will move. There are many whorls that we don’t yet know the meaning of but all whorls have a message for us if we will listen.
All horses are individuals. With careful thought and effort, we can find the best ways to work with them no matter what whorls they have. A whorl is not a way to see if a horse is ‘bad’ instead, checking whorls is one way for us to gather clues. Those clues can help us figure out a horse’s temperament and suitability for both us and whatever discipline we are hoping to pursue.