Horseshoes And Why They’re Needed

Most people would likely be able to recognise a horseshoe; that strangely shaped piece of metal that they nail on to the end of a horse’s hoof. As recognizable as they are, most would probably not be able to explain what their usage is, and why most racing horses need to wear them.

It should be noted that horseshoes are not worn by all domesticated horses all the time; in fact, their overall usage is in something of a decline. Despite this, horseshoes are still widely used within the professional racing industry, and most racehorses rely on them.

What Is A Horseshoe?

A horseshoe is a u-shaped plate that’s meant to give extra protection to the hooves of a horse. They’ve been in usage for many hundreds of years, and were first created to allow horses to work in different, difficult environments, almost always related to farming or similar activities. A horse that’s wearing shoes is known as a “shod horse”, while a horse that doesn’t have horseshoes is described as unshod.

Most modern horseshoes are made of either aluminium or steel, but they can also be made from other materials like plastic or rubber. They most often need to be fitted by someone known as a farrier, as there’s a fair amount of precision needed.

The Point Of Horseshoes

The idea of a horseshoe is to give an extra layer of protection to a horse’s hooves. The hooves of a horse are made from the same materials as our fingernails, and they can wear down over time, especially when under a lot of pressure, such as when the horse is working on tough ground or running. In the wild, a horse will wear down their hooves as they move over hard terrain, but domesticated horses tend to wear through their hooves significantly faster.

People many centuries ago realised this was a problem, and the horseshoe was created to stop this wear from occurring, but also to provide the now much-needed layer of protection. They’ve also become popular symbols of good fortune, and it’s not uncommon to find them being used by jockeys or those that enjoy horse racing betting or other kinds of gambling, like online blackjack.

Horseshoes In Racing

Not all horses need to wear horseshoes, and it’s generally considered the personal choice of the owner or the trainer, along with what the horse is going to be used for. When it comes to professional racing horses, a horseshoe is generally considered a necessity, even though there aren’t technically any official rules that a horse needs to wear a shoe while it’s racing on the track.

In general, however, the vast majority of horses wear horseshoes while they are racing because the extreme nature of racing puts a lot of pressure on horseshoes and can wear down the hooves or cause damage to the horse’s legs, causing more issues down the line. Most horseshoes used for racing are made of aluminium, which is a strong but light material that provides excellent protection.


About Doreen Cohen