Horseshoe Facts and Folklore

As most of you know I am an avid recycler, up-cycler and re-user. I even give lectures around the country on how to do this. Another presentation I give is on do-it-yourself projects for the horse lover. One of the ideas in this presentation is up-cycling horse shoes. Recently I met an awesome woman that does just that.  She uses shoes from horses in Montana and the results are wonderful.

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Talking to her got me thinking about the history of horseshoes.

Do you know how long the horse has been wearing shoes?

Throughout history, the purpose of horseshoes has remained pretty much the same;  for therapeutic purposes, providing protection for sore hooves and helping guard against future injury.  It was the composition of the shoe that has changed.

The first horse shoes were more like booties made from hides and woven from plants.  These primitive “shoes” are similar to what endurance or pleasure riders use today.

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Modern day canvas/rubber horse boot/shoe

Metal was introduced into horseshoes by the Romans.  The Romans used  leather and metal “hipposandals” fitted over horses’ hooves and fastened with leather straps to protect their valuable steeds.  These “horse sandals” were inspired by the sandals strapped to their own feet.

 

By the 6th century, the rest of European horsemen had started nailing metal shoes to horses’ hooves.  Cast bronze horseshoes with nail holes became popular around 1000 AD and in the 13th & 14th centuries, shoes were forged in large quantities and could be bought ready-made.

Around this time shoes became wider and longer to accommodate the larger feet of the cold blooded draft horses used in trade, travel and war.

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Draft Horse Feet

Surprisingly, many of the shoes today bear a striking resemblance to the shoes of the past.

Here’s a little bit of interesting horse shoe trivia…

  • In 1835, Henry Burden received the first patent for a horseshoe manufacturing machine.  His machine made up to 60 shoes per hour.  During America’s Civil War of the 1850s, the Northern forces had a horseshoe-forging machine that gave them a distinct advantage over the Southern armies.
  • In 1874, the Journeymen Horseshoers National Union was founded.  Proper shoeing became important and through apprenticeships and shoeing academies, there was an increased number of farriers, which in turn, required the union to be formed.
  • There have always been seven nail holes in a horseshoe.  Since ancient times, the number seven was considered very important.   A  rainbow has seven colors,  astrology once held that seven planets made up the universe, there are seven days in a week and a seventh child was thought to have special powers.

OK let’s expand a little more about the use of horse shoes of today and learn about horse shoe folklore.

Horseshoes today come in a wide variety and can be very technical in design. Some show barns and riding teams have their own private farrier that knows and designs shoes for each horse in the barn.

Horseshoes are available in a wide variety of materials and styles and these are created based on the type of horse and for the work they do. Steel is the most common material used for every day riding with aluminum a close second.

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Steel Horse Shoe

Sports, like polo, eventing and show jumping, need a strong, durable shoe so they would lean towards a shoe made of steel.

Major-Polo-Events

Polo requires a durable shoe

Other equine athletes require a lighter shoe like aluminum. Race horses use aluminum as do many show horses because they can facilitate better movement. You’ll see aluminum shoes in the hunter, dressage and western pleasure rings.

Horse racing action

Horse racing action

Some horses need specialized shoes and these can be made of rubber, plastic, titanium or copper. Other horses require “studs” or  “caulks” which are protrusions at the toe or heels of the shoe, or both, to provide additional traction.

Fitting shoes to a horse’s foot requires skill and knowledge as a good farrier {blacksmith} can create a shoe to help correct gait flaws, conformation issues and to meet certain terrain demands.

Here’s a little bit of interesting horseshoe folklore:

  • To assure good luck for the New Year, one should sleep with a horseshoe under his pillow.
  • If you dream of finding a horseshoe, good luck will come to you.
  • To ward off nightmares, hang a horseshoe in your bedroom.
  • Being a blacksmith is considered a lucky trade.  By working with elemental fire and magical iron, they were thought to have special powers.  It was believed that a blacksmith could heal the sick and if a couple was married by one, their marriage would be a happy one.

So, how do you believe a horseshoe should be hung – with the opening facing up or down?

Some people believe that hanging the horseshoe with the opening pointing upward like a “U” holds in all the good luck and protective powers it brings.  Hanging it this way also acts as a storage container of sorts for any good luck that happens to be floating around.

The superstition of hanging it upside down  simply means that the the good luck is able to flow out and surround the home.  If the horseshoe is hung over a doorway, ends up will catch good luck and ends down will let the good luck spill over the door and stop evil from entering.

Anyone that uses shoes on their animals understands that you get a new set every 4-8 weeks! So, what can you do with all those used horse shoes?  There are lots of ideas and you don’t have to be “crafty” to reuse them for something decorative in your home, barn or yard.

Here are some great ideas to re-use horseshoes around your farm

and here are some great ideas for creating crafts using horseshoes

As you can see the things you can do with horseshoes is endless! So grab a few and get busy decorating and creating!  For more great ideas check out our Pinterest Horse Shoe ReUse board.

If you’d rather get a horseshoe already done check crafting sites like Etsy or our Horse Hippie shop where you will find the Montana HorseShoe collection.

Thanks for stopping by,

Laura

Horse Hippie CHristmas 2014

 

 

2 thoughts on “Horseshoe Facts and Folklore

  1. Pingback: Horseshoe Facts and Folklore – The Story Behind This Stable Door

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