Why are horseshoes considered lucky?

with No Comments

Why are horseshoes considered lucky?

Yesterday when I was bringing the horses up to their stables I came across a horseshoe. Our property has black soil, which is prone to shrinking and expanding quite dramatically, so in dry times the soil shrinks and what is hidden below ground makes it’s way to the surface. We occasionally find old horseshoes around the paddocks and as none of our horses wear shoes I wonder about the horses they belonged too. Generally we just hook the shoes on a fence or whatever is closest but sometimes Don turns them into something to hang our headstalls on. I began thinking about how the horseshoe came to be thought as lucky and this is some of what I’ve found out.

Horse shoes have long been associated with good luck – although there’s an ongoing debate over the proper way to use them, when attracting this good luck. Carrie Bradshaw wore a horseshoe necklace in the “Sex and the City” movie and many of us have horseshoe shaped lucky charms, the horseshoe’s popularity as a lucky emblem dates back centuries, when they were used to ward off evil.

As with many superstitions, there are lots of different beliefs associated with the horseshoe. For instance, many believe to hang a horseshoe with the ends pointing upwards is good luck. This is so your luck is stored safely. However to hang it with the ends pointing down, is bad luck as all the stored good luck will fall out.

Others believe it doesn’t matter which way you hang the horseshoe as good luck will always come. The superstition with the ends-pointing-down means good luck flows out to envelope the home. If a horseshoe is hung over a doorway with ends up the good luck will be caught and ends down allows the good luck to spill over the doorway. A nice idea would be a combination of the two allow the good luck to be stored with the ends pointing up and then once full it could be turned ends down so the occupants of the house can have the benefit of all the stored good luck.

Another interesting point is how horseshoes were also considered lucky because they were made by blacksmiths. Blacksmith-ing is considered a very lucky trade, because the elements of fire and iron were magical, having special powers. The superstitions for iron are thought to originate in prehistoric times used in the form of a good luck charm to ward off evil spirits. A blacksmith was thought to be able to heal the sick and if a couple was married by a blacksmith, their marriage would be a happy one. Working with horses gave the blacksmith power and prestige, not only did they make the lucky horseshoe but they were also the keepers of the Horseman’s Word which I have learned is the basis for the movie, The Horse Whisperer. Even these days we use lucky horseshoes as good luck for the traditional and modern bride.


I was fascinated by the last mentioned aspect in that the horse shoe is held in place by seven iron nails – this adds to it’s good luck. The ancients observed life around them and knew the number seven was very important. Life was divided into seven ages and a rainbow has seven colours. Astrology once held that seven planets made up the universe. There are seven deadly sins and apparently a seventh child was thought to have special powers.

We all know there are seven days in a week and the moon changes from one phase to another every seven days. There is not one cell remaining in your body that was there seven years ago and seven is used over 700 times in the Bible.

Finally I found a folklore tale which tells quite a strange story of how the horseshoe came to be lucky. The story goes: the Devil saw a horse galloping over cobblestones throwing sparks. He grew envious and had a blacksmith nail a pair of horseshoes on his own hooves. But his cloven hooves were not suited to such a shoe giving him great pain.The blacksmith would not remove the shoes until the devil promised not to enter a house where a horseshoe hung over the door.

Today, many people display horseshoes for nostalgic or decorative purposes. They are commonly found on logos, in photographs, and in art. So the question is do horseshoes really gather luck and keep out the devil?

Photographs and words Carmel Rowley

Leave a Reply