It is pretty much justified to assume that we all know that horseshoes are something that horses wear as the name suggests. But you may be interested to know more about horseshoes. For example, you might wonder why horses have specialized shoes. You would be surprised to know that horseshoes servers a much wider purpose just than being shoes.
In this article, we are going to cover everything about horseshoes in depth which hopefully will answer all of your questions and clear your confusion.
All You Need To Know About Horseshoes
1. What is a Horseshoe?
A horseshoe is a U-shaped piece of metal that protects the hooves of horses from rough surfaces. The hoof is made out of the same thing that our nails are made of- Keratin. We all know despite being solid, how easily they can break.
The situation of horses is even worse as they can get damaged easily because of constant contact with rough surfaces and friction. As horses are used for many purposes, horseshoes are essential to protect their hooves. Let’s get to know about the purposes of horseshoes in detail.
Unique Purposes of Horseshoes
Protection: As mentioned earlier, horses can have fragile hooves that can break, be damaged, or be worn off easily. To prevent that, there’s no other alternative than horseshoes. Also, there’s a soft portion beneath horseshoes called paws that horseshoes protect.
Traction: Traction is very important when it concerns higher velocity or carrying heavy loads and that is the reason sports shoes and car tires exist. Horses are known for their competence in sports events and bearing load. Hooves are not naturally built for racing or bearing load and can lose traction easily. Horseshoes provide enhanced traction control to the hooves of horses and protect them.
Correction: Horse hooves are not always built consistently and balanced which is a prerequisite for the health of horses in terms of racing or bearing load. Horseshoes give the perfect shape to the hoof of a horse that is ideal for any activity.
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2. Brief History
Though there are debates regarding the origin of horseshoes, the most accepted history is that it was invented by the Romans. After horses were starting to be domesticated, the issue regarding their hooves was coming to light and they felt the necessity of protecting the horses. They tried to protect the feet of horses by attaching a solid bottomed sandal to the hooves of horses by strapping it on.
What Are Horseshoes Made Of?
The general idea about horseshoes is that it’s made out of metal. However, history says something very different that is horseshoes weren’t made out of metal from the very beginning. Let’s get to know some of the core materials used for manufacturing horseshoes.
Plants: Yes, you heard it right. The current purpose of horseshoes is mostly protection but in ancient Asia, they also considered medicinal purposes to protect the horse feet. And plants were used from ancient times till now for their healing capabilities which were also effective for horses.
Rawhide: Rawhide is a material that is manufactured out of leather waste from tanneries. The Romans who were first to invent rawhide used leather and rawhide to make horseshoes.
Metal: At a time in the sixth or seventh century, people in northern Europe realized that metal is one of the most convenient materials for horseshoes because it’s solid and flexible. It lasts for a very long time and it was also the easiest to fix by being reforged.
The most common material used is alloy, iron, steel, and aluminum. But nowadays, steel and aluminum are mostly used for making horseshoes. Moreover, plastic horseshoes are also rolling out cause since the very beginning of their invention, they started replacing everything. However, metal horseshoes are still far superior to plastic ones.
3. Types of Horseshoes
There are different types of horseshoes built for different horses and their purpose. Let’s get to know some of the most common types of horseshoes:
Fuller Front: This is the most common type of horseshoe that is built in a way to maximize traction control. It’s great for racing and even high load.
Straight Bar: As the name suggests, there’s a straight bar along with the shoe which aims to protect the bulbs and heels of the horse’s feet.
Rim: This is an enhanced form of the Fuller Front-type horseshoes for superior traction. It has a much deeper crease that makes it great for traction. This is well suited for harsh ground conditions.
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4. How Horseshoes are Put On?
People might be wonder that as they are like shoes, they’re put on the way we wear them, which is not the case. Horseshoes require to be nailed with the hoofs which require to be conducted by a professional who is called ‘farriers’. You might even wonder that it’s painful or it might amount to animal cruelty but it’s actually not.
As we mentioned earlier, horse hoofs are made out of Keratin which is the exact thing our nails are made out of. And generally, we don’t feel any pain when we cut our fingers and toenails. The same goes for horses, they don’t feel any pain in the process. Nails are put through hoofs and horseshoes which stick out of the sides that ferries use a hammer to bend and form it into a clamp or hook.
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Horses cannot wear horseshoes by themselves as we do so generally. Only domestic horses owned by individuals are seen to wear horseshoes. Barefooted wild horses usually suffer in the long term because of damaged hoofs which is a rare incident for domestic horses.
So by now, you should know many interesting facts about horseshoes and the importance of them. So make sure to get a pair of decent horseshoe if you own a horse or even plan to have one in the future.