What Are Horseshoes – & Why Do Horses Wear Them?


| LAST UPDATE 02/01/2023

By Amie Alfaro
Black Spotted Horse Field
Kurt Kaiser via Wikimedia Commons

Just like humans, horses wear shoes to walk around. But why is that? And how did this all get started? The practice actually dates back longer than you would think. Here's a look back...

Horseshoes have a fascinating history that dates back to at least 400-500 BC. Ancient Greeks and Romans are believed to have been the first to use horseshoes for their horses, as they provided better traction in wet, muddy terrain when riding. The custom of having a blacksmith fit horseshoes appeared by 200 AD in the Roman Empire, becoming popular over large parts of Europe as equestrianism grew. By the Middle Ages, horseshoe-making had become commonplace in many parts of the world. Horseshoes have been used pragmatically ever since then. Even today, horseshoes provide protective footwear for our beloved horses so they can live lives full of speed and comfort without suffering injury or harm.

Horseshoe History Ancient Rome Tradition
Vassil via Wikimedia Commons
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Horse owners often times look toward shoes to protect their horses' feet from the harsh surfaces and elements of their environment. Horse hooves are made from a special protective material called keratin – fun fact, it is the same material that makes up our fingernails. However, as it's not invincible, proper trimming is essential in keeping the hoof healthy and strong, just like our nails. Dr. Fernanda Camargo told Live Science, "Shoes provide protection to some areas of the foot of the horse." It keeps them from being at risk of splitting or cracking due to everyday wear and tear. Shoes also provide grip on slippery terrain that can cause horses to slip and injure themselves. It is important to keep in mind that if the horseshoes are nailed on improperly, it can hurt the horse.

Over the years, horseshoes have become a must-have step in the routine for any horse owner looking to keep their horses safe while they are out on trails or competing in shows. Stay tuned for more interesting facts about our furry friends.

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