Bonding Ideas

Horse Whorls Guide

Looking at whorls is a time honored method of judging a horses 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 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, but 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 on the face. Some horses have whorls on the sides of their jaws, others on their cheeks, some on the temples. Wherever there is a whorl there is some point of focus.

A whorl on the cheek according to tradition and folklore is a sign of debt and ruin. I have found many horses with this whorl who have teeth issues. There is usually good reason for superstitions. Is it possible that without modern equine dentistry that the dental issues caused these horses to be bad keepers bringing debt and ruin to owners trying to make a living with them?

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 horses temperament and suitability for both us and what ever discipline we are hoping to pursue.

Want to learn more about horse whorls?  UNDERSTANDING HORSE WHORLS is FREE with THE HAPPY HORSE HANDBOOK.  This eBook provides lots of pictures and fascinating insights into different horse whorl patterns and what they could represent about a horse’s personality…

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