Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Evaluating Hair Whorls and Profile

Horse & Rider Magazine posted an interesting article on Horse Hair and Swirl Patterns. It discusses beliefs from multiple trainers on the value of whorls on horses, as well as coat colors. In the article, it mentioned Linda Tellington-Jones as being a forefront trainer in the study. This popped out to me because Linda Tellington-Jones is the trainer who Peggy Cummings seemed to be inspired from, and she takes a lot of ideas and concepts in her work from Linda. In the Horse & Rider article, the title of one of Linda's books was provided, so I went onto Amazon to see if I could take a peak inside. What I found seemed quiet interesting.

Throughout my short life, I have heard many people say how horse color and whorl patterns can be indicative for horse's personalities, but I never knew what each one could represent. Linda Tellington-Jones' book, Getting in Touch; Understand and Influence your Horse's Personality, gives some great images and descriptions of horse facial and body whorls. Here is what I gathered for Milo, although the study is not always completely accurate.

When I purchased Milo I noticed the interesting, and many, whorl patterns on his face. I always seemed to hear that whorls indicated a good thing for horses and their temperaments, but I didnt know how indicative they really could be. The above photo is hard to see, but Milo has one prominent one in the center of his forehead, and two a bit about it on either side of the white further up his head. They arent completely underneath the forelock, and they are uneven, the right being higher than the left. What might this mean?

According to Linda Tellington-Jones' book, it can mean a variety of things. Lets begin with the center whorl (Image and text excerpted from Linda's book).
"This pattern and position is the standard one displayed by the majority of the horses in our studies and in my observations. It indicates a horse with a generally uncomplicated nature, but there are variations. Sometimes swirls are set a little to one side or the other. 

With swirls set to the left as you face the animal, (as is Milo, but only slightly) the horse will tend to be a touch more complicated but still trustworthy. Horses who have a swirl set a bit to the right of center may be less cooperative than those with the pattern in the center or to the left. 

In general, swirls of this sort are less indicative of character than the more complex patterns."

This seems to hold true for Milo, but as she stated, it reveals less of character than some of the other patterns. Let's visit the next one then.

 "Three swirls close together on the forehead (not up under the forelock): Triple swirls are rare; very few are reported in the survey. However, from my own observations in the ensuing years, I've seen that, in geldings and mares, the triple swirl indicates a complex individual but not an unpredictable one. Stallions, however, are another story entirely - about 80 percent of the stallions I've observed with this marking have exhibited unreliable , often dangerous behavior. 

Those more rare, I have seen cases of multiple swirls on the face, and would venture to say that such patterns would ten to indicate complex horses. Many years ago I was a judge at a horse show in California, and in the line up I noticed a small, liver chestnut mare who had an amazing 16 swirls on her face. 

It turned out that she was a very successful junior jumper, but her owner, a 15 year-old boy, was the only one who could ride her. The young man said she had been very difficult to train initially, but now she was attached to him and would do anything for him."

This seems most interesting to me in concern to Milo. I would certainly agree that Milo is a complex horse with a wide range of emotion. I would also venture to guess that he would have been an absolutely terrible stallion to handle (and I have thought that as long as I have owned him, long before ever reading this). The final story Linda provides feels close to home as well. Milo was a difficult horse to begin working with, who resisted and displayed aggression. However, he soon learned to trust me, and he would do just about anything for me. I have already spoke in a recent blog post about his behavior towards others, which makes this excerpt from Linda's book most interesting, and therefore, more validity in the terms of whorls. 

I havent explored the rest of the book yet, but it has been a most interesting read. I did read, however, on the profile and shape of a horse's head, and I thought it's meaning tied into the swirl markings was most interesting. However, I couldnt seem to pinpoint one particular profile, so I collaborated a few. 
I see Milo being a combination between Profile 1, Straight Profile, and 5, Moose Nose. What?? Moose nose? How unflattering, but in truth. 

 With a straight profile, Linda states, "A horse who is very uncomplicated and learns easily". 

This is most interesting because from the swirl patterns, it seems Milo is a complex horse. But I must add that he is a quick horse, who learns easily, and I have always said this in my four years with him. He is smart and bored easily, but learns new concepts very, very quickly. 

So what about the nose?

"Moose Nose: This shows up as a bulge on the lower part of the nose and usually indicates a horse with a strong character, frequently a herd leader. A horse with a dish face that is complimented with a moose nose will be sensitive, but bold rather than timid."

Ahh, I must agree that Milo is a strong character, who (as we know) displays dominance and leadership in humans and horses. While I dont think his moose nose is as large as indicated in the photo, it still seems prevalent and worth noting, and this description (aside from the dished head) seems to match well with Milo's personality. 

What I find really interesting between the two, are that he "scored" a 1 and 5 for both swirl pattern and profile. Any correlation between the two? Or am I now reading too far into this all? Does this seem just like an old wives tale, or do you think it bears any prevalence to your horse? Check out her book and take a peak 
inside with Amazon and see what you might find. It's an interesting read nonetheless.


Cedar View Paint Horses said...

As much as I'm not a fan of LTJ, I sure enjoyed that book and refer to it often. Two swirls, side-by-side is my Hank, and it's oh so correct. Stubborn ass, he is.

Mary said...

That's really interesting, I have never given much thought to the swirls, now I'll be looking for them all the time. :-)

in2paints said...

Lilly has two on her forehead and one is slightly lower than the other, but what I've read about them doesn't really match with her personality. Perhaps I should read LTJ's book because it looks like she goes into much more detail. I hadn't ever given any thought to the profile either... :)

Story said...

Although most people say it's all just nonsense, and a side of me has to agree, at the same time I've just seen it be true way too often! Maybe it's just one of those things where the descriptions are general enough that everyone can find the particular answer in their horse, but when I looked up the whorl patterns on Page and Dee, I have to say, they seemed pretty darn accurate!