Horse Shoe , a strip of iron bent around in the form of the hoof of the horse, and fastened upon the bottom of the same by nails driven through the outer corneous layer, and clinched upon the outside. An additional security is sometimes given to it by turning up a piece of iron welded to the front part of the shoe and fitting this closely into the toe of the hoof; this serves also still more to protect the hoof from wear. For use upon icy roads, and also upon stone or wooden pavements, the shoes are provided with steel points called corks, one at each heel of the shoe and one at the toe. In the country the heel corks are usually made by turning down the iron shoe, and are not of steel, like the toe cork. Oxen also are furnished with iron shoes, each of which is made, on account of the cleft in the foot, in two parts, shaped to fit the bottom of the hoof. The need of such a protection to the feet of the horses and mules employed in war was greatly felt by the ancients, and the value of sound and strong hoofs was no less appreciated by them than by the moderns.
Xenophon, Vegetius, and other authors gave certain methods of rendering the hoofs harder; but no clear intimation is anywhere to be found that either the Greeks or Romans made a practice of shoeing horses to protect their hoofs from wear. In several campaigns the cavalry were rendered useless, and the horses were sent away till their hoofs could be restored. Camels were sometimes provided with leather coverings for the feet, and the feet of oxen were protected by a bandage woven or plaited with the fibres of plants. Beckmann is of opinion that modern horse shoes when first introduced were known by the Greek name from their moon shape; and the earliest use of this that he could discover was in the works of the emperor Leo the Philosopher of the 9th century. It is expressly stated that these are made of iron, and that nails belong to them. Horse shoeing is supposed to have been introduced into England by William the Conqueror. In the graves of some old Germans and Vandals of unknown antiquity in the northern countries, Beckmann states that horse shoes have been found with other horse furniture. - Horse shoes were always made by hand until the introduction of the machines invented by Henry Burden of Troy, N. Y. These are among the most efficient and perfect of the labor-saving machines of the day. A shoe, turned to the proper shape and grooved to receive the heads of the nails, is formed in passing through one machine. A full description would require several pages and many drawings ; its general action is as follows. A bar of well worked iron is passed through rollers until it is made of the proper size. This while red hot is introduced into one side of the machine between two rollers. After it has- entered a certain distance it is cut off by shears worked automatically.
The piece cut off is of exactly the length required for the shoe, and it is bent in the middle over a form by the action of a tongue moved by a cam wheel. This form is placed upon a heavy revolving cylinder about 20 inches in diameter, and in its revolution carries the shoe beneath a die placed upon another cylinder, by which the shape is given to it. It is then transferred to another die formed in two other cylinders, by which the groove is cut, and places indicated by indentations for afterward punching the holes, which operation is performed by hand with a power machine. After passing through the second die the shoe is dropped upon an endless chain, which passes under the machine and also under a number of other machines placed in a row. By this means they are conveyed to an adjoining room and dumped upon a car, which carries them to different parts of a vast semicircle where the machines for punching the holes and finishing are placed. Each machine occupies a space of about 8 ft. in length by 0 in width and 7 in height, weighing several tons, and is capable of making from 50 to 60 shoes per minute. - Horse shoes have long been the subject of a singular superstition.
They were thought to be a protection against evil spirits and witches, preventing these from passing the threshold at which one was nailed. Aubrey in his "Miscellanies" says that in his time (the latter half of the 17th century) most of the houses of the west end of London were thus protected.