Horseshoe - History of Horseshoe


While wild horses roam free moving and grazing at will, a workhorse has a serious job to do. Although unnecessary for the slower moving and more relaxed wild horses, horseshoes are necessary to protect a workhorse from hoof or leg injury.

Although the origin of the horseshoe remains under debate, the first appearance of horseshoes occurred in an Etruscan tomb from around 400 BC. Other mentions of footwear protection for horses appears in Rome in 100 BC as well, although it is currently unknown if these references were for nailed horseshoes or instead about other less sturdy methods like leather boots.

The first reference of the common nailed horseshoes version appears in various European countries from around 900 AD. At this time the metal used for their construction was bronze, which was molded to form a curved outer rim with six holes for nailing into the horse's hoof. Quickly, however, the use of bronze faded away as iron was being more commonly used in metal working during the 13th and 14th centuries. Interestingly, as iron was extremely valuable at the time, horseshoes were accepted in lieu of other money to pay the taxes of the day.

Rapidly, the production of horseshoes became a large manufacturing operation during the 13th century. During the following five centuries the development of the horseshoes caused the parallel development of the blacksmithing craft required for their production. Eventually, blacksmithing became known as the staple job of the time, and the creation and development of the horseshoe contributed greatly to the development of metallurgy.

By 1835, a horseshoe manufacturing machine was patented in the United States by Henry Burden. This machine could create up to 60 horseshoes per hour! Today, horseshoe manufacturing is a common practice necessary for the production of thousands of horseshoes each year. Necessary to keep the average workhorse on its feet, the horseshoe has advanced throughout the centuries providing protection, safety, and security to workhorses throughout the world.

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