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Can Whorls Change?

This is one of those things where the scholarly answer and what appears to actually be able to happen are completely different. Whorls are not supposed to change. That is why some breed associations use them as a means of identification and they are shown on registration papers.

But still we get people who post horses here who swear they’ve developed more whorls with age.

A lot of times whorls will look very different as coats change with the seasons. Other times we really just don’t notice all the whorls. I’ve bought horses, after carefully checking whorls, then gotten them home to realize I’ve missed some.

What we know for sure is that new whorls will form over areas where something is wrong underneath the skin, inside the horse. Crushed velvet is common. Luckily whorls forming over tumors and cancer are rare.

That doesn’t apply to these.

These changing whorls are forehead whorls. Whorls a horse is supposed to be born with already well set in place. These show temperament, an inborn trait.

There is a lot of discussion about what a horse is born with, nature, as opposed to what is developed by nurture. Apparently it doesn’t have to be an either or. New findings show that our environment can change what we have been born with. Studies of this sort in humans apply just as well to horses or any other animal.

Epigenetics is the study of how certain environmental factors can alter genetic expression. Our environment and experiences can change how our genes are expressed.

Is it possible that these horses who have developed new whorls can be developing new personality traits due to the life they are living? Not to be confused with changes in behavior which is a developed trait.

These changing whorls are very rare and the changes are small enough that it seems entirely possible. They aren’t switches from extrovert to introvert, but feathering developing or placement shifting slightly which makes it seem plausible to me. I’m willing to believe this could be possible.

Have you ever had whorls change on one of your horses?