The Luck of Horseshoes

A traditional symbol of ‘luck’ has been the horseshoe. Even at one time, it was common practice for a business to make sure they displayed a metal U-shaped horseshoe, especially any business using horses – such as farmers, tradesmen, etc.

The luck of the horseshoe started began because horses were so important and you needed to keep them healthy. Without metal horseshoes, their hooves would wear down and cause pain to the horse.

The belief of luck goes back to a man named Dunstan in England in the 10th century (900s AD) who was a monk and skilled as an artist, metal-smith, musician and general tinkerer. Dunstan believed he at one time was visited by the ‘Devil’ himself who wanted a metal horseshoe on his hoofs. Dunstan managed to place a long nail along with a very hot horseshoe into the bottom hoofs of the Devil. The Devil cried out in pain and Dunstan promised to remove the painful horseshoe if the Devil promised never to come back to Dunstan and to respect the horseshoe. People hearing the story looked at the horseshoe as a lucky symbol, a protection against evil. Dunstan died in 988 AD and the story was told for years but the lucky horseshoe did not become fully part of European culture until the 1200s.

In Ireland a tradition of hanging a horseshoe above the entrance door became popular, a way of keeping evil out. Many people say that a horseshoe over a doorway must be oriented with the open side facing upwards so that the luck one had accumulated doesn’t fall out. Others believe the ends pointing down simply means that the good luck is able to flow out and surround the home.

Besides an entrance door, horseshoes are placed on the inside of an entrance door, a barn wall or an interior wall to decorate and bring good luck to the family in the house.

Check with some relatives, see if any recall a horseshoe hung on the family property. Maybe even start the tradition yourself.

Photos: Lucky Horseshoe; Outside a door entrance; and inside a door entrance.

Related Blogs:

Foods for Good Luck

Strange Practices


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