Last Updated on April 9, 2022 by Allison Price
The invention of the steam engine and spinning wheels was long before it was invented. A human invention that revolutionized ancient trade, transportation, and warfare was horseshoes.
The horseshoe was born out of necessity. Humans discovered horses in the same way that they domesticated them. They also understood the importance of protecting their feet. Their goal was to get the most from their horse.
As far back as 400 BC, horseshoes were in their earliest form. The Romans called these “hipposandals”, and they were made from rawhide, leather, and plants. Horsemen in Ancient Asia wore shoes made from woven plants to protect their horses. Shoes were used to protect the horse from injury and also to ease any existing injuries.
Horses found it difficult to gain traction on terrain in parts of Northern Europe, which are known for their cold and wet climate. Around the sixth and seventh centuries, this led to the creation of the art of nailing metal shoes.
These archeological finds from all over the world show that ancient civilizations knew the importance of protecting horses’ hooves. These prototypical foot gears were the basis for the modern shoes that protect horses’ hooves.
The horseshoe was born out of horses working in harsh environments that cause breakage or excessive damage to their hooves. Horses became more useful by providing adequate protection against sharp objects in ground and the stress of traveling hundreds of miles each day.
The invention of horseshoes was also pivotal because horses with protective footwear actually run faster than horses that are wild. Aluminum horseshoes are lightening the burden of moving horses’ feet. They are able to protect the horses’ feet from breaking and make it easier for them to move faster. This can be crucial in horse racing events where winning or losing could be the difference.
It is difficult to understand the history of horseshoes as historians struggle to agree on many accounts of when horseshoeing began. Cast iron horseshoes are difficult to date, particularly since such materials were often repurposed for weapons and other metal crafts.
The result was that archeological evidence became so rare, it became difficult to prove the origin of this practice. The history of horse domestication is complicated. It is believed that horses were first ridden in 3500 BC.
War horses were used for warfare in the 2500 BC period. They were usually mounted on chariots and required protective footwear made of leather. Regardless, horseshoe-making was popularized in Europe around 1000 AD. Shoes were made of light bronze alloys and featured a scalloped structure and six nail holes.
The scallop-shaped shoes slowly disappeared over time. The design was modified to include two nail holes. The result was a heavier and wider structure. Horseshoes were a popular commodity by the 14 th century. It was first sold in large numbers in medieval Europe. Shoes for horses were made to be used in trade, transport, war, and other situations.
horseshoe production was only possible with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Machines capable of producing mass-produced horseshoes were developed in the 1800s. This gave them a significant advantage in warfare. In 1835, the United States received its first patent for a horseshoe-making machine. This machine could produce 60 shoes an hour.
Horseshoe production was a key advantage in the victory of the Northern armies during the American Civil War. They acquired a horseshoe-producing device. Properly equipped horses performed better on the battlefield than horses without shoes. This resulted in the defeat of the Southern troops in the 1860s.
Equestrian horseshoes were a commercial success in the early 1900s due to the stable market created by horse-riding becoming a sport. Equestrian became a competitive sport during the 1900 Olympic Games. The dawn of a new age was witnessed in horseshoes, and horse use generally.
Since then, horseshoes have been made from a variety of materials. However, equestrian shoe have mainly been made of steel and aluminum throughout history.
Steel horseshoes have been shown to be more durable than aluminum shoes and are also cheaper. Equestrian became a popular sport and horse racing was born. Therefore, horseshoes for equestrian horses were needed that were lighter. These shoes allowed horses to move more quickly and provided enough protection against hoof damage.
Recent research published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science showed horses wearing aluminum and steel shoes. Horses wearing steel shoes, which are 2.5 times heavier than aluminum, showed greater flexion at the lower leg joints and better trot animation. Horses wearing aluminum horseshoes had lower knee action and higher hoof flight.
This finding is significant because horses with heavier hooves, such as steel, have higher flight arcs and greater flexion.
This is a good idea when considering horse use. Horses used in equestrian would benefit from aluminum horseshoes because the material allows for more sweeping action. Steel shoes would be better for horses who are competing in performance events. However, it was not possible to show that either shoe material had a significant effect on stride length or suspension.
The horseshoe‘s history has been a long one. It is a testament to the power of human ingenuity, and it proves that necessity can be the mother of invention.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!