Since the early history of domestication of the horse, it was noted that working animals were exposed to many conditions that created breakage or excessive hoof wear. Ancient people recognized the need for the walls (and sometimes the sole) of domestic horses’ hooves to have additional protection over and above any natural hardness. Because iron was a valuable commodity, and any worn out items were generally melted down and reused, it is difficult to locate clear archaeological evidence of the earliest horseshoes. From archaeological finds in Great Britain, it appears that the Romans attempted to protect their horses’ feet with a strap-on, solid-bottomed “hipposandal” that has a slight resemblance to the modern hoof boot, and earlier people may have used rawhide boots or other wrappings to protect horse’s feet. The nailed shoe was a relatively late invention.
There is very little evidence of nailed-on shoes prior to AD 500 or 600, though there is speculation that the Celtic Gauls were the first to nail on metal horseshoes. The ancient Greek horse trainer Xenophon mentioned nothing about horseshoes in his treatise on the care of military cavalry, nor did the Digesta Artis Veterinariae by Vegetius Renatus, written in AD 480, mention nailed-on shoes, though he accurately enumerated everything connected with an army forge in the time. There are early literary references in the Koran, circa AD 632, to “war-horses… which strike fire, by dashing their hoofs against the stones…” which arguably is an effect that could only be obtained by shod horses. The earliest clear written record of iron horseshoes is a reference to “crescent figured irons and their nails” in AD 910. By the time of the Crusades (1096–1270), horseshoes were widespread and frequently mentioned in various written sources.
Since the 7th century, nothing has changed with regard to horse hoof protection. Sure, the shoes have gotten lighter and better constructed, but there is only so much you can do with metal to make it seem like it’s not metal. It’s time for a change in the way horse shoes are constructed, designed, and applied. That change is the NanoFlex Flexible horseshoe. Whether you want to glue or nail the shoe, the shoe will flex with the horse’s hoof, and provide more comfort for the horse.