Is this correct, on Roman horseshoes?

Transferred from the old blog.

I’ve always been a bit hazy about the Romans and horseshoes. Catullus (17) has a mule casting its shoe in the mud.

et supinum animum in gravi derelinquere caeno
ferream ut soleam tenaci in voragine mula

This piece from Equisearch says hippo-sandals came in ‘sometime after the first century’.

The History of Horseshoes

You can’t enjoy your horse on the trail or in the arena without them.
Here’s the story of where they came from and how they’ve developed through the ages. By Rachel Cohen, photo by Mandy Lorraine

Once people discovered the utilitarian value of the horse,
they simultaneously realized the necessity to protect the horse’s feet-that is, if they hoped to maximize his use. Although horses in the wild seem to do quite well without shoes over a wide variety of terrain, they move at a slow pace. Those infrequent times when they are forced to run for their lives, those hindered by sore feet are easy prey for predators. Of course horse owners, even in primitive times,
weren’t interested in survival of the fittest. They needed to have their animals serviceable as much as possible, and so man began protecting their horses’ feet almost as soon as they started domesticating them.

A thousand years before any one thought to write about the
process, horses had some sort of hoof protection. Horsemen throughout Asia equipped their horses with booties made from hides and woven from plants. Often used for therapeutic purposes, these primitive shoes provided protection for sore hooves and helped guard against future

Sometime after the first century, shod hooves traversed the
roadways set down by ancient Romans. To protect their valuable steeds, the riders outfitted their horses with coverings inspired by the sandals strapped to their own feet. These leather and metal “hipposandals” fitted over horses’ hooves and fastened with leather straps.

Traveling to colder climes up north, the soft, wet ground of
northern Europe overly softened porous hooves. In these damp settings, horses used in farming and transportation became susceptible to soundness problems and had trouble gaining a toehold on the surface.
Horsemen tried various remedies, and by the sixth and seventh centuries began nailing metal shoes onto their horses’ feet.

I can’t find my own photos of hipposandals, but there is a picture from the Museum of London here, and another one, which looks more secure, from the British Museum here.


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