Why do horses need shoes?

4 July 2019

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The horse’s contribution to British Society is very rich and significant. There are early images of Queen Boudica in a chariot being driven by her two horses into battle with the Romans. The ancient people were so much in awe of the creatures that they carved figures of giant horses into the chalk hills of southern England.

In 1900, London was in need of 300,000 horses to keep it moving. Most of them and most of the earliest patients were horses of cabmen. The other horses worked for traders, laundrymen, grocers and rag and bone men.

There were 11,000 horse drawn cabs working London’s streets in 1900 before the popularity of the automobile. The horses were taken good care of by the driver because they depended on the horse for their income. There were some horses that were rented by the day but this meant that each driver usually worked the horses really hard. The horses had a high workload which was relentless.

A steady stream of exhausted horses would come to the animal hospital/shelter/clinic for treatment. Just as you are able to get a courtesy car nowadays, back then you would hire a replacement horse for around 25 shillings, which was about two days earnings. The feed for the rental horse was included to make sure that the hire horse was well fed and kept while out working.

Why do horses need shoes?

Horse shoes are essential for horses as their hooves are in regular contact with rugged flooring such as concrete and other rough surfaces. Their hooves can be damaged from the uneven surfaces or hard flooring which will put the animal at risk of stepping on an object and damaging their hooves.

Horseshoes are normally made of metal even though some are made partially or wholly of modern synthetic materials designed to protect a horse’s hoof from wear and tear. The shoes are attached on the palmar surface of the hooves which is nailed through the insensitive hoof wall. The fitting of horseshoes is a professional occupation which is conducted by a farrier. They specialise in the preparation of feet which assess any issues and fitting appropriate shoes.

A horse’s natural hoof is constantly contracting so you must ensure that their shoes are properly fitted and check that they are wearing the correct size. This will ensure that it is not painful to the horse. The horse grows a completely new foot in the span of one year so it is essential to replace the horse’s shoes at the correct intervals.

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Are you looking for a creative drama show in London? Want to see horses in theatre? Come join in to embark on a treacherous mission to find Albert's horse and bring him home. Book your tickets today!