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Why Do Horses Wear Shoes?

Why Do Horses Wear Shoes?

Have you ever heard the click-clack of a horse pulling a carriage? Or maybe you are a big fan of the Indianapolis Colts and see the horseshoes on their helmets. Either way, you may have asked yourself, “Why do horses wear shoes?” To help us explain, we turn to our friends at Equisearch.

Horseshoes aren’t exactly “shoes” like you and I would wear. They are nailed on to the bottom of the horses hooves. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt the horses if done properly. Their hooves are strong and don’t have nerve endings. You may be wondering why they need the extra protection for their feet if they already have these hooves.

It’s true, hooves do provide some protection for the horses feet and under most circumstances that protection is enough. However, if a wild horse must run for a long distance from a predator or a domesticated horse (one that is trained to work with humans) is going to work for an extended time, their hooves aren’t enough to guard their feet. Ever since humans have used horses for transportation or to assist with farming, ways to protect their feet have been used. About 2,000 years ago, the Chinese used tough animal skins to put around the horse hooves - similar to the socks we wear. 

Later, materials like iron, bronze, steel and hard rubber were used and vital for explorers in America who often rode horseback as they headed west. Kansas even had a horseshoe academy - a place people went to learn how to make and use horseshoes. In fact, horseshoes played an important role in the American Civil War. The northern states had more industrial manufacturers and created horseshoes in large quantities. This gave them an advantage over the southern states whose horses did not have access to as many of the protective footwear.

Today, horseshoes are very important to keeping horses healthy and their feet protected as they carry the massive weight of the animal and riders. Just like you want to keep your feet protected from things that could prick you, so too must our big four-legged friends be protected as they move around too.

Looking for more Never Stop Asking "Why?" questions? Catch up on all of the past "Why's" on the blog!