Horseshoe Facts and Trivia
There is an old saying among horsemen, “No foot, no horse.” Despite their size and strength, horses are notoriously fragile animals. Four slender legs and small hooves bear the horse’s full weight of eight hundred to two thousand pounds.
Horse owners pay particular attention to the care of their horses’ feet and hooves and typically will have horsehoes replaced about every six weeks.
Horseshoes protect horses hooves from wear and the shoes are attached with nails and in some cases are glued, although some horses do not need shoes at all.
The horseshoe goes back thousands of years, and the first shoes used by ancient Asian and then Roman riders were made of leather. The technology has developed over the centuries and now include metal.
What are horseshoes made of?
The function of the shoe and the horse’s job will dictate what material is used, the most common are steel or aluminium.
Horses can also be fitted with special plastic or composite shoes, and the farrier who looks after the horses hooves will decide on which is best.
Some Horseshoe Trivia and beliefs
Horseshoes are considered a symbol of luck, there are a various stories behind this, however no one is certain of the origin of this belief in the luck of the humble horseshoe.
One of the more colourful stories is the Irish story of the blacksmith and the devil. One day a blacksmith was working hard in his shop forging horseshoes. Suddenly, the devil appeared and demanded his own shoes. The blacksmith, recognizing the devil, took a burning hot shoe and nailed it deep into the devil's hooves. After walking away, the devil was in such excruciating pain, he ripped the horseshoes off and swore he would never go near one again. Thus, the tradition of hanging a horseshoe over the entrance of a house to ward off evil spirits was born. To this day, people put them above their front doors and they are given to brides at weddings.
When the racehorse Gun Runner won the prestigious Group 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga in New York on 5th August 2017, he did so with a horseshoe from the early front runner Cautious Giant entangled in his tail.
A silver-plated horseshoe that was once worn by Valegro, Charlotte Du Jardins Olympic medal winning horse was sold for $5,000 (£3,800) for an equestrian charity in a silent auction, in the USA.
Horseshoes is a lawn game played between two people (or two teams of two people) using four horseshoes and two throwing targets (stakes) set in a lawn or sandbox area. The game is played by the players alternating turns tossing horseshoes at stakes in the ground, which are traditionally placed 40 feet (12 m) apart. Modern games use a U-shaped bar, about twice the size of an actual horseshoe.
In Dunblane there is a horseshoe and plaque fixed to a wall at the corner of Bridgend and Stirling Road, This was from Queen Victoria's horse when she passed through the town. Her horse threw a shoe and the local blacksmith reshod her horse. The horseshoe was fixed to the wall in honour of this event.