What in the Whorl?

Whorls, swirls, crowns, cowlicks, you name it. If you’ve ever owned a horse you know exactly what I’m talking about. Those little “swirls” of hair that usually appear on the face, neck and chest are a signature trademark on or beloved equines. About 78% of horses have facial whorls, 16% have double whorls, and only 6% have three or more. Even us humans have whorls on our heads, however I think we can all agree that the whorls on horses are much more interesting. Over the years, there have been meanings and legends behind the whorl.

A signature type of whorl is called the “prophet’s thumbmark”. Legend goes that the Prophet Muhammed wanted to test his horses by depriving them of water over a course of several days. After the final day, the Prophet tested their loyalty and obedience by releasing his horses near a waterhole. Just before they could quench their thirst, the Prophet sounded the trumpet that summoned them. Only five of the parched mares responded and diligently returned to the Prophet. He intended to then use these five mares for breeding and wanted to recognize their loyalty. In doing so, the Prophet pressed his thumb into each of their necks and created an indent, or whorl. This particular whorl on a horse’s neck indicates that the horse is blessed, and whoever’s thumb fits perfectly in the whorl is the horse’s true owner. Its like a Cinderella story with an equine twist!

Among the prophet’s thumbmark, there are countless amounts of meanings behind whorls. Here are a few of them!

  • A whorl on the chest indicates prosperity
  • Whorls on the girth are a sign on good fortune
  • A whorl above the eye has an evil meaning, it is said that the rider will die from a head injury (yikes!)
  • A whorl on a horse’s cheek indicate debt and ruin (to some extent this is true for us horse owners!)

Whether they be true or not, its always fun to put a little mythical flair to these already magical creatures. Whorls might be the new horoscope reading for horses!




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