3 November 2014
I untied the lead rope from the tree and began to pull it softly towards me as I began walking. It was a beautiful summer afternoon – perfect riding weather. As I led my horse toward the gate for the pasture, my friend, Breekya, followed with another horse. This had been her first time riding, and she had loved it. Once within the gate, I showed her how to take the halter off and watched as she copied my movements. After gathering the halter and lead rope in my hands, I turned around and began walking back towards the barn. I didn’t get far before I heard, “Oh my god, a horseshoe!” Thinking nothing of it, I kept walking. Finding a horseshoe in the pasture wasn’t a big deal to me; in fact, it meant that it was time to shoe again, which meant money out of my pocket – not something to be very excited about. I had been riding my whole life, since the time my father could sit me up straight in the saddle with him. Since I have always had four horses, and horses are shod every six to eight weeks, I’ve seen over 2,000 horseshoes in my lifetime. Breekya ran up to me, a huge smile on her face. She was overly ecstatic, “I can’t believe I found this, this is SO cool. Can I keep it?!” I gave her a funny look before I said, “Yeah? We have a ton of them; you can have as many as you want. What do you want that old thing for anyways?” Astonished, she yelled, “MEGAN! Horseshoes are lucky!” In the back of my mind, I knew that they were considered lucky – I had heard it a time or two – but I had never put any thought into it. Seeing my friend so excited about the shoe, I couldn’t help but wonder why and how they’re lucky. The History of Horseshoes
Wild horses obviously don’t have horseshoes, but they still manage to do pretty well on the terrain. However, Rachel Cohen, an intern for Dressage Today magazine, wrote in her article, “The History of Horseshoes,” that without shoes, horses must move at a slower pace so that they don’t hurt their feet. It’s like when you’re walking around outside with shoes on versus being barefoot. When you have shoes on, you can easily run across grass, dirt, rocks, asphalt, etc. but when you’re barefoot, you must go slower across the terrain to keep from hurting your feet as much. Typically, if we must be outside while barefoot, we choose to walk versus running. The same goes for horses without shoes, they can walk across the terrain, but when forced to run or walk for long periods, their feet become sore. When man began to domesticate horses, he began protecting their feet in order to get the maximum use out of his horses. However, the iron horseshoes that we see today weren’t the first protection of horses’ hooves. Cohen writes that the first hoof protection originated in Asia, where horse owners used hides and woven plants to make booties to protect their horses’ hooves and prevent injury. After the first century in ancient Rome, Cohen adds, horse owners made “leather and metal ‘hipposandals’ [that] fitted over horses' hooves and fastened with leather straps… inspired by the sandals strapped to their own feet.” In the sixth and seventh centuries, bronze horseshoes were invented when travelers in colder climates began to notice that the damp ground “overly softened porous hooves,” causing the horses to become “susceptible to soundness problems and [have] trouble gaining a toehold on the surface” (Cohen). However, Cohen adds, in England, horseshoes were made from iron rather than bronze, making them heavier and also more valuable. Folklore
In ancient folklore, horseshoes were used to ward off supernatural powers and evil spirits. According to Remy Melina, the writer of “Why Are Horseshoes Considered Lucky,” fairies existed during the Stone Age and when Celtic tribes moved in the area in 400 BC, the faeries hid. In the forest, not only were there fairies, but there were also stories of elves and...
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