Unless familiar with caring for horses; if asked to list all of the things you’d expect to find in a horses’ stable, very few people would come back with a mirror. A saddle, a trough and plenty of horse-poo perhaps, but a mirror? – That being said, when you understand the psychological benefits for horses having a mirror in their stable; it makes perfect sense.
Like us, horses are incredibly social creatures. And while most owners endeavour to allow their horses to roam freely as frequently as possible; keeping them enclosed in a stable is often unavoidable – particularly in the winter.
Before the introduction of mirrors in the stable, most horses would tend to display restless behaviour. Their anxiety would lead to frustration and drive them to weave and nod their heads or box-walk. We put this down to separation anxiety and the fact that being kept in a tight space invariably goes against their nature.
Why Stable Mirrors are Great for Horses
First of all, consider what you would do when decorating a small room in your house: You would hang a mirror to make the space feel bigger. The reflection of the room creates the illusion that the room is larger, with the additional benefit of natural light reflecting off its surface. Horses evidently share a similar appreciation as we do!
In addition to the illusion of having more space; it is believed that a horse sees its reflection as another, as opposed to itself. This means that they accept their reflection as a companion, which can alleviate any feelings of loneliness that they will invariably experience when boxed up alone, without a mirror – Not only that but the mental stimulation that a stable mirror provides is beneficial for lightening boredom.
Of course, not all horses would take to it immediately. Some will greet their reflection with a gentle nose-bump, while others would immediately make a threat in its direction. However, in almost every case, after a week or two the horses will get used to their reflection and grow to benefit from its presence.
Always Use an Acrylic Mirror Over Glass!
Under no circumstance should you choose glass over acrylic for your stable mirrors! Acrylic provides the very same clarity of reflection as glass, though it has a much higher impact resistance. This is perfect for keeping in an enclosed environment with horses, which are prone to rearing and kicking.
Glass is delicate and prone to shattering, and there’s no telling how much damage broken glass can to do a horse. A shatterproof acrylic on the other hand can offer you peace of mind in the knowledge that even if it were to break, the horse wouldn’t be in any danger of being seriously injured.
Further to that, an acrylic mirror has a higher refractive index than glass. This means that it can allow more light to pass through it, which will make a small enclosed stable much brighter. Horses display higher levels of stress when they are kept in a stable with poor lighting, which is why acrylic mirrors are so valuable.
It’s Always Worth a Try
In a few, very rare cases, a horse wouldn’t take to the mirror at all. These horses tend to be unsociable types, or particularly domineering. However, again, the majority of horses to take to the mirror after a short while and show significant signs of improvement in their behaviour – more often than not, ceasing to weave and box-walk entirely.
For the sake of your horse’s comfort and mental health, it is definitely recommended that you trial an acrylic mirror in your stable to see how it affects them. Acrylic is much lighter than glass so they are incredibly easy to install. If your horse really does not take to it, removing it will be painless as well.
Just be careful with the placement of your mirror. Do not take up an entire space with a wall to wall mirror; your horse should have the option to turn away from the mirror if it wants to. Also, do not place your mirror near its feeding station. Other than that, you’re good to go!