Horsing Around

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Photo by Squeezyboy via Flickr (per Creative Commons)
If you're like most people, you've probably been given the impression that horseshoes are used to protect horses' hooves from wearing out. What a bunch of malarkey!

If you stop to think about it, it makes no sense that horses would need shoes to protect their hooves. After all, wild horses don't wear shoes, and they never have hoof problems.

In reality, horseshoes were originally used for navigation. Before setting out on a long trip, a horse's rider would go to the local blacksmith and tell him his destination. The blacksmith would then consult a chart and select a set of horseshoes to put on the horse. The shoes were magnetized so that one side would always tend to point north – just like a compass! By selecting the correct set of shoes, the blacksmith could ensure that in the event that the horse and its rider were separated, the horse would automatically make its way back to its stable.

Now that horses are no longer used as a mode of transportation, the use of magnetized horseshoes has become rare. But old habits die hard, and most horses can still be seen sporting purely decorative horseshoes to this day.

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