Other research

Different positions of horses trichoglyphs in relation to the horses temperament when ridden by a novice rider.

Bamber. I., Cumberland. E., Farmer-Day. C.

BSc(Hons) Equine Performance Management Undergraduates, University of Bolton.


There have been many studies investigating the effect that the location, direction and nature of the horses facial whorls (trichoglyphs) have on the horses behaviour, ability, temperament and performance (Murphy et al, 2008; Randel et al, 2005; Williams, 2009; Williams, 2010; Gorecka et al, 2007). However there is still need for further investigation in this topic for future reference, and further studies to be carried out as a clear conclusion is yet to be determined. In this small study, the objective is to determine if there is a correlation between the location of the facial whorl and the horse’s temperament when ridden by a novice rider.

Materials and Methods

This small study looked at 7 school horses of different age, breeding and ability, ridden by 7 novice riders. Each horses facial whorls were objectively measured and noted, before the location being determined as either Central (evenly placed in forehead between the eyes) Central Long (central but neither high or below eyes set), High Above (set above eyes but central), Right Handed High Above (not central and to the right). It was noted from the 7 horses that Central n= 2, Central Long n= 3, High Above n= 1, Right Handed High Above n=1. A blinded observer then subjectively watched the horses being ridden by the novice riders in a school lesson. The 7 horses were noted on their temperament using a numerical order scale of 1-7 where 1 had the most desirable temperament and 7 had the most undesirable temperament within the group.


Fig 1. (Table of Raw Data)

Horse  Name Whorl  Location Temperament  Score
M  Central Long


O High Above


B Right Handed High Above


S Central Long


L Central


C Central Long


Mi Central



Fig 2. (Bar graph of Correlation between Whorl Location and Temperament)Key: Higher temperament score = undesirable behaviour.

Fig 2. (Bar graph of Correlation between Whorl Location and Temperament)
Key: Higher temperament score = undesirable behaviour.

The results show a direct correlation between the whorl not been located in a central location and the horse having an undesirable temperament.


This small study supports the evidence found in Gorecka et al (2007) investigation that the location of the facial whorl has a direct correlation to the horse’s temperament. Although this study has concluded with similar results, there is room for much more accuracy with in this particular investigation. Due to the small sample size, it is not an accurate study as it does not represent a fair sample of possible facial whorl locations within the horse. The lack of assessment of the rider’s ability is also a huge flaw in this study. The rider can have a huge effect on the horse’s way of going; for example, rein tension with novice and experience riders (Warren Smith et al, 2007) and therefore temperament of the horse may be affected by this.


Although the results correspond with previous studies, this study is flawed by small sample size, lack of assessment of riders ability, and an inaccurate sample of different facial whorl locations on the horse.


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