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A whorl or swirl is a patch of hair growing in the opposite direction of the surrounding hair, usually in a pinwheel fashion. It’s commonly found on the head, and especially the face. Whorls are also known as trichoglyphs, or cowlicks when they appear elsewhere on the body. Because every horse’s whorls are distinctive, like a fingerprint, recording their location and character is one of the oldest forms of identifying horses—especially those without white markings.

Tellington-Jones’ resulting breakdown of swirl patterns and their relationship to personality traits is detailed and specific. In general, however, she found that:

• a single swirl in the center of the forehead indicated an uncomplicated nature

• a single swirl centered below the level of the eyes indicated an intelligent, possibly mischievous nature

• a single, long swirl between or extending below the eyes indicated an especially friendly, agreeable nature

• two or more swirls generally indicated a more complicated personality in some way. 

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