By Kay Frances
Few people would dispute that horses are magnificent creatures. Their functions are wide and varied and they have been a great asset to us since the beginning of time.
Over the years, they have provided work assistance, transportation, entertainment and companionship. Some horses are so beautiful that they are entered into shows where their primary function is to stand around and look good. They are the Heidi Klums of the animal world.
For reasons that I don’t fully understand, what fascinates me the most about horses are the fact that they wear shoes; and the long-held belief that their shoes are a source of good luck adds to my intrigue.
First, let’s address the footwear aspect. Horses wear shoes! How adorable is that? What other animal wears shoes? Dogs? No. Oh, sure, every now and then you’ll see a poodle wearing booties, but that speaks more to the mental health of the owner than the need of the animal.
Shoes on cats? Good luck with that one! My cat is so touchy about her feet that I have to take her to a groomer every six weeks just to get her claws trimmed. Then, she glares at me for weeks afterwards. Although, I have to admit that her “resting glare face” looks exactly like her “resting happy face” so who can really tell?
Horses wear shoes! However, it’s not so much a fashion statement as a practical measure to protect their feet. Their shoes are put on by experts called “farriers.” Horse hooves are similar to our toenails (especially the toenails of a certain unnamed male relative of mine. I don’t even think a farrier could hack into those big, thick, scary yellow toe-talons of his. Seriously. They should be registered as lethal weapons).
From time to time, the old shoes are removed and the horse gets a “mani/pedi” of sorts; the “nails” are trimmed and filed, a light coat of brightly colored polish is applied and — oh, wait. That’s only for pampered Kentucky Derby winners. The rank-and-file “regular” horses get the basic version of a mani/pedi sans the nail polish. Race horses get new shoes every couple of weeks, which is why I want to be a race horse in my next life.
There are conflicting stories as to how horseshoes became a symbol of good luck. Some might say that it makes no sense. (Other good luck symbols make less sense, such as a rabbit’s foot. Doesn’t seem like it was too lucky for the rabbit. Sure, your luck increased but the poor rabbit had to go through life with the nickname of “Tripod.”)
As the story goes with horseshoes, you are to hang one in the doorway of your house, with the tips pointing upward (U-shaped.) If you hang it the other way, it is said that the luck will “run out.”
So, if you notice that you’ve had a run of bad luck, you might want to scour your house for upside-down horseshoes. Finding one that has been there for 20 or 30 years will make you rethink your whole life!
Whether you believe that horseshoes are inherently lucky or not, I think we can all agree that horses are pretty special beings. They say that dogs are man’s best friend, but ask any horse owner who has bonded with their equine friend and they might beg to differ.
Horses might not have the same level of participation in our lives as they did before cars and farm machinery, but they are still beloved animals that are well known for their patience and tolerance of humans. There aren’t a lot of animals that would let you ride around on their backs. Although, I’m pretty sure there is a poodle somewhere with a saddle on it.
WRITER’S NOTE: No horses were harmed in the writing of this article, although there may be a mildly irritated poodle owner somewhere.
Kay is a motivational humorist from Wilmington who encourages people to “laugh more, stress less and take care of yourself!” She gives humorous keynote presentations and stress management workshops all over the United States. She is the author of “The Funny Thing about Stress; A Seriously Humorous Guide to a Happier Life.” To order the book or find out more about Kay, visit her website at: www.KayFrances.com.