A hair whorl is a patch of hair usually found on the face of the horse. It runs in a swirl effect opposite to the hair around it. This is also called a cowlick, crown, or trichoglyph. These can also be found in other areas of a horse's body. Such areas as the chest, belly, neck or near the stifles. These are different to each horse and are like a fingerprint. Some breed registries even use the whorl as identification.
There are six different types of hair whorls. There is the simple, tufted, crested, feathered, linear or sinuous. About 80% of horses have this marking, with 16% having double ones and 6% having three or more.
In the Indian Marwari, it is said to be a bad omen if the horse has a whorl that is below the eyes. The Bedouin horseman, or those nomadic Arab tribes living in the Negev region in Israel, used the whorl to determine the worth of the horse. In the case of the Exmoor ponies, the breed standard calls for facial whorls. This keeps water from getting into their eyes.
There are many beliefs as to the different areas the whorl appears on the body and how this pertains to the personality of the horse. It could mean their temperament is good or bad or even that the area will know famine or misery. The most common whorl is found just above the eyes and is said to mean the horse is an uncomplicated animal and is even tempered. Below the eyes means the horse has a higher IQ. One on the left means that the horse will be trustworthy and on the right that it will have an obstinate personality. A horse with more than three whorls means it's personality is unpredictable.
In a paper authored by veterinarians Sean Arkins and Jack Murphy at the University of Limerick in Ireland, they determined some very interesting points on horse racing and "the incidence of motor laterality in the horse". They have classified 219 horses in several categories such as show jumpers, race horses and eventers. This has to do with the performance of both the left and right hoofed that they lead with when they begin to walk. Out of the 104 left hoofed horses, they found that about 75% had anti-clockwise hair whorls. Out of another 95 that used their right, about 67% had clockwise whorls. The point they are making is that with this information a trainer would be able to determine how to train a horse. This 'motor laterality' means that the horse could drift in a certain direction and this could make a major difference in the chances a horse has in competition.