Fact Check

Is It Real, or Is It Neighbelline?

Published Jul 21, 2015

FACT CHECK:   Does a photograph show a horse bearing a horse-shaped marking on its shoulder?

Claim:   A photograph shows a horse bearing a horse-shaped marking on its shoulder.


Example:     [Collected via email, July 2015]

This was posted on my fb feed. Just wondering if it is real.

Origins:    A photo purportedly showing a horse bearing a horse-shaped marking on its shoulder and side went viral in July 2015 after it was reported in a Daily Mail article:

It looks like an optical illusion but this chestnut foal was born with his own perfect white shadow.

The unique marking is the profile of another horse which runs up his left shoulder and neck.

It then merges seamlessly from white to black into his mane.

Whether it was the story's source (the Daily Mail is known for reporting misinformation as real news) or the fact that fake horse marking photographs have fooled online viewers before, many people were skeptical that the photograph was real.

But pictures of this horse and its intriguing marking were posted online several weeks before the Daily Mail article went viral. On 31 May 2015, a few days after Da Vinci (or Vinnie) was born at the Flying Hall School in Robin Hood's Bay (in North Yorkshire, England), the school shared a few images of their new foal:

It’s a boy! At 5am on 27th May we welcomed the newest member of the Fyling Hall family. He is lively and large and is already keeping our riding mistress, Wendy Bulmer, on her toes!

When the horse proved popular with the students, the school posted a second blog entry about him:

At certain times in the day the school stables have suddenly become the most popular place to be! Da Vinci (or Vinnie for short) continues to draw lots of attention and visitors from the Fyling Hall pupils. Despite only being weeks old, he appears to have taken all of the attention in his leggy stride, and practically revels in the cuddles that he receives on a daily basis.

With multiple photographs, videos, and confirmation from the Flying Hall school, it's safe to say that these horse-like horse markings are genuine:

Last updated:      21 July 2015

Originally published:    21 July 2015

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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