Horseshoe Up Or Down?
October 26, 2013

Horseshoe Up Or Down?

When I was younger, and my family had moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to rural Oklahoma, I found myself in need of stuff to do. I had lived in a city neighborhood with all I needed and wanted to do within a bike’s ride. But my parents bought five acres of land in rural, rural Oklahoma where the dirt road was not really conducive to bike riding. So, I took up exploring our property and the land adjacent to it (with our neighbor’s permission, of course).

On one of my many adventures, I found a tiny horseshoe, probably a pony’s shoe or that of a young filly or colt. To this day my horseshoe sits on my dresser as decoration and reminder of my days as an avid country explorer. For many, though, the horseshoe is so much more than just a piece of metal crescent shaped to fit a horse’s hoof. For these individuals, the horseshoe is a symbol of good luck.

For some of these individuals, the horseshoe holds luck when it is pointed up in the “U” shape. When in this position, the belief holds that the good luck falls within the crescent thus the powers of good luck stay inside it. Others believe that hanging it pointed down shaped like a rainbow allows the good luck and powers to flow down it and surround the home and person. Some believe that hanging it like this, in the upside down “U” pose, makes all of the good luck fall out. I guess it is a matter of choice…if you like it with the open end up, then there is support that is good luck, and if you like it with the rounded end up, then good luck will find you as well.

But just why is the horseshoe a good luck charm? Well, The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry describes several possibilities:

  1. They are made by blacksmithing, a lucky trade in and of itself.
  2. They are made of magical iron and elemental fire, which gives them power.
  3. They are usually held in place by seven iron nails, and seven is very important (a superstition in fact, which I will address soon).

Psychic Library adds some more possibilities explaining the good luck of a horseshoe:

  1. The crescent shape wards off the evil eye.
  2. The Middle Ages bred the belief that witches feared horses and horseshoes.

The origins of the horseshoe’s good luck are explained by an article on The Arizona Republic website.

“One story has it that the devil went to a blacksmith to get his hooves shod. So the smith shaped the horseshoes and nailed them – red hot – into Satan’s hooves.

The devil went on his way, but soon the hot horseshoes and nails caused him such agony that he tore them off and never went near a horseshoe again.

Another idea is that horseshoes are lucky because they are made by blacksmiths, who were considered to be lucky in the old days. That was because they worked with fire – one of the basic elements – and iron, which was believed to possess magic because it was stronger than other metals and could survive a fire.”

I keep my horseshoe as a reminder of my life in the country, my parents, and my days as a novice explorer. I do not think it brings me good luck. But I can say that it brings me good memories, which make me positive and happy. Maybe that’s all luck is after all.

Image Credit: tockCube / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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